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E. Clarke "Cambusken" (Glasgow, Scotland)

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Philosophy of Language (Princeton Foundations of Contemporary Philosophy)
Philosophy of Language (Princeton Foundations of Contemporary Philosophy)
by Scott Soames
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £27.95

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Utterly incomprehensible, 23 Dec. 2012
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If this is where the Anglo/American Philosophy has come to in the 20 odd years since I studied it at university, it has reached a complete dead end. I rather think, though, I get this feeling from the writer, who is opaque, allusive and smug all at the same time. One dud!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 4, 2014 8:22 AM GMT


Siempre el mismo día (Grandes Novelas) (Spanish Edition)
Siempre el mismo día (Grandes Novelas) (Spanish Edition)
Price: £4.79

4.0 out of 5 stars One Day in Spanish, 23 Dec. 2012
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This is a translation of One Day by David Nichols. I wondered how his crazy English would translate, but I am learning Spanish and find translations easier to read than original Spanish. I won't add to the recommendations of the original story - it fully deserves it - but I really enjoyed this Spanish version.


Spanish: An Essential Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars)
Spanish: An Essential Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars)
by Peter T. Bradley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Totally comprehensive, 23 Dec. 2012
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All you need as a reference grammar, with lots of examples, for basic Spanish. You could easily make up your own exercises and learn Spanish from this. Very clear and easy to understand.


Preparacion Dele: Libro + CD - B1 - Edition in Colour (2010)
Preparacion Dele: Libro + CD - B1 - Edition in Colour (2010)
by Edelsa
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good resources, 23 Dec. 2012
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All in Spanish, with no English, lots of texts and exercises to practice, with a CD of aural tests too. Great


Rob Roy
Rob Roy
Price: £0.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely terrific story, 23 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Rob Roy (Kindle Edition)
I am not sure I can think of anything wrong with this book. It is written beautifully and entertainingly, it is jam packed with amazing characters, including women you would not dare mess with, and traverses the whole of Britain in times of great historical importance. Scott hardly mentions them, concentrating on the unfolding drama of the Robin Hood character from whom the book takes its name. Surprisingly, the book is more than half over before we arrive in Scotland. Something startling happens every odd chapter, and Scott's wry and sardonic commentry and subtle (and not so subtle) humour are present on just about every page. It is just great.


Waverley
Waverley

4.0 out of 5 stars At a bound ....., 23 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Waverley (Kindle Edition)
You can see where Ian Fleming or John Buchan got their ideas for a hero on the march, then on the run, with numerous scrapes and narrow escapes in exotic circumstances. What a charmed life Edward Waverley lived! At the end Scott wryly admits to stretching credibility on the escapes and deliverances of Waverley, but he does this with his usual leg-pulling attitude. This is his earliest novel here, and he does not hide its rough edges. No, surprisingly he ushers you past them saying, I know I should tell you about this but I haven't really got the time, because I want to push the story on. And that is Scott's great gift, he pushes the story along, giving wry commentary and comic asides when necessary. I think it tries to explain how Scotland was absorbed into the Hanovarian monarchy, but this does not really work. He is in love with the Highlands and with the traditional clan system, which he sees as based on feudal loyalties. I don't think he can hide his regret at its loss. His usual feisty women are also on show (compare Dickens!) but he does not really resolve their fates too well. So to be honest, it does not work as some sort of coherent arguement or seamless work of art. But it is a cracking good yarn, beautifully told.


Rob Roy (Wordsworth Classics)
Rob Roy (Wordsworth Classics)
by Sir Walter Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant template for all subsequent spy/adventure novels, 9 Oct. 2012
I can imagine the young author of the Bond books reading this, goggle-eyed and thinking he'd love to write something exactly like it. International conspiracy! Devilishly cunning villain! Gadgets and booby traps! They say that Hamlet is full of quotations, so I guess Rob Roy seems full of the clichés of the spy/adventure novel simply because, well, Walter got there first. Someone else can do the Lit. Crit. on this but I have to say that I was as goggle-eyed as anybody. The whole book is so full of surprises yet never lets up - not even in the last chapter - in the rollicking pace of the story telling.

The story starts off in the City of London and wends northwards to Northumbria, weaving intriguing elements of the story all the way. Family feuds, Father versus son, business versus poetry, North versus South, Catholic versus Dissenter. There wildness of countryside begins to make an impact, and in the old family home of a wild and dissolute family of Northumbrian gentry various dubious, intriguing and mysterious connections begin to be set up. Including of course the elusive Scottish cattle drover, who proceeds to enter and leave the story in surprising and mysterious circumstances for the rest of the yarn. Business failures, frauds, robberies - set up?- AND a bright but imperious lovely all become involved provoking the young hero to set off for Glasgow in the company of his irritating Sancho Panza-like sidekick. The plot thickens and darkens as he is drawn further northwards into wild Highland territory, uncontrollable despite garrisons of redcoats and about to burst into rebellion. He is in the company of the pompous, irrepressible Glasgow merchant and magistrate Baillie Nicol Jarvie, who must be the most genial comic character ever created. Captured, rescued, captured, escaped, etc, etc, with adventure after adventure, amazing meetings and coincidences, booby-trapped sporran, etc, etc.

You can't put it down! You need to cope with Scott's version of local dialect in the dialogues, but there is never much doubt what is being said. This is a marvellous book.


Christianizing the Roman Empire: (A. D. 100-400)
Christianizing the Roman Empire: (A. D. 100-400)
by Ramsay MacMullen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.95

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly but disturbing, 5 Oct. 2012
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This is a very short book on a very large topic. The scholarship is astounding, though evidence for this is wisely confined to the (extensive) notes section. MacMullen commands an unrivalled knowledge of the evidence surviving from early Christian times, from documents of course, but also from inscriptions and archaeological remains. He puts an amazingly cool and at times imaginative historian's brain to work to make sense of all this evidence, coming to conclusions that are no doubt challengeable (as is the way of all science) but which seem to me to be fairly robust. To arrive at these from a survey of fragmented but extensive evidence is an intellectual achievement on a par with, well, I would say Quantum Physics.

From the New Testament and related documents we have some idea of how the very first Christian, or at least Pauline, communities functioned as household based, urban "assemblies". For the second century we know something went on about the formation of the role of "bishop" but we don't really know the process and how it interacted with the processes that later led to a so-called "orthodoxy". MacMullen reckons that there was a conversion rate of about half a million a generation over the second century, ending up with about 5 million "Christians" of one type or another (he is wise not to be more specific) by the time of Constantine's conversion. This was about 20% of the Empire's population. This might compare to similar conversions to other cults and may have involved comings and goings to "Christianity" but it quite remarkable nonetheless. He argues convincingly that these conversions took place largely at the domestic or local level, based on conversions of heads of households, or their wives, and subsequently their families and entourages. Overwhelmingly the (Christian) documentation suggest that conversion was the result of witnessing or hearing about miraculous events or happenings performed by wandering holy men, often in contests with the "daimons" of pagan temples. (Mac Mullen thankfully acknowledges both the strength and the intellectual and moral respectability of pagan religion). In accepting the Christian religion, people did not have to accept anything strange to them, either in science, religion or morals, just an obviously more powerful "god". The one new thing they had to come to terms with was the possibility of everlasting torment if they refused this obviously powerful Christ. This had an enormous effect.

The unique feature of Christianity was its intolerance of other religions, which perhaps explains the (infrequent) persecutions. Once Constantine allowed toleration of Christians, they became more open in their attacks on temples and their "daimons". They themselves attracted massive imperial donations and preference. There was a sort of "Dissolution of the Temples", as Constantine and others raided the temple treasuries and, as time permitted, closed them down or put them to other uses. This process was long drawn out because of local opposition. Meanwhile, vast tracts of land in Italy and elsewhere - with all their tenants and slaves - became church property, with attendant "conversions" of all concerned. Imperial career paths could now be enhanced if you followed your master's lead, and this had its effect all the way down to the local city level. Moreover, career paths in the Church now became lucrative, or at least had tax-exemption benefits, so much so that already in the third century there were frequent cases of corrupt and disputed appointments. The intolerance Christians showed to other cults they also showed to "Christians" with other ideas of what Christianity was (or to those who had been appointed to lucrative bishoprics they claimed for themselves).
By the end of the fourth century possibly a bare majority of the Empire was "Christian" in some sense, but there was certainly a majority, though not a monopoly at the elite level and later in the army, so that Christians could become more aggressive in applying what they claimed to be "the law" often with great barbarity. Christians like Ambrose and Augustine really did think they were fighting "daimons" so we should not be surprised at the ferocity of their appeals and the actions they provoked. They had no problem with forced conversions either, many poor pagans being offered a choice of death or conversion. Nevertheless, it is hard for at least one 21st Century Christian to feel any co-religiosity with these people. As we enter the sixth century, the "Christian mob" begins to make regular appearances, especially in great centres of pagan civilisation, such as Alexandria. These mobs are often also turned upon "deviant" forms of Christianity (though extensive property rights in the enriched Church were also in play).
Thus the church was established by word of mouth and local example, most often based on wandering miracle workers whose power persuaded people to choose an obviously more powerful, but very jealous, divine being over all the defeated "daimons". This was backed up (for the same reason) by imperial preference, money and an increasingly aggressive often very violent application of a "legal" demand for uniformity of belief and for the destruction of "daimons". It is an amazing story, but it leaves me at a loss to think what the Holy Spirit was up to during this (and, let's be honest, all later times). Perhaps the Reformers were right, and the whole Imperial Church was a sham, or at best an edifice within which real Christians could continue to lead out their lives quietly. Perhaps the Holy Spirit really does just choose specific individuals in any generation to be part of the "Church" no matter what institutions are put in place or "orthodoxy" enforced by the Princes and the Powers.
I have one reservation about the book and that is MacMullen's almost too casual writing style - allusive, almost ironical and often a bit involuted - which sometimes makes it difficult to work out exactly what he is claiming. The overall argument is clear and convincing, though, based on scholarship of the highest standard.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2013 2:28 PM GMT


River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line
River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line
by Rachel Havrelock
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £32.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly but sober, 11 Sept. 2012
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Rachel Havrelock writes fluently and clearly about an almost impenetrably difficult subject - how the River Jordan has featured as a border, or crossing point, in the folklore and mythology of the Jewish Bible, The New Testament, the Talmud and subsequently in the stories recounting the establishment of Israel and the reaction of Palestinians to this seemingly overwhelming fact. She takes what she calls a folkloric and geographic approach, distinguishing this from exegetic or historical approaches, but she is as complete a master of the latter disciplines as of the former. No doubt there is an underlying ideology which will be apparent to opponents - maybe she might appear too much of a liberal, diaspora Jew - but the coolness and even-handedness of analyses seem to me to be the hallmark of the book. Perhaps another indication of a degree of impartiality would be the feeling you have at the end of the book that we are a very long way indeed from aligning or synchronising any of these narratives. The Jordan as border and as mythic crossing point is more potent today than ever - partly because it is today indeed a well-defined, though still idiosyncratic border, with daily enactments of its power. However, this book may play some long-term part in imagining the Jordan as a unifying factor, at least in so far as there are real ecological problems, chief among them water use, which can only really be addressed in a transnational and trans-communal fashion. Her account of the immense fluidity of conceptions in all the sources - no surprise in the Bible, but also apparent elsewhere - might be some ground for hope for a more pacific future. At least it leads you to think that a more cooperatively occupied and managed Jordan Valley is not an impossibility.


The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul
The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul
by Wayne A Meeks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine scholarship, 9 Sept. 2012
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This is a fine introduction to the world of the mid-first Century Christians, who were, we really should have realised, city dwellers through and through. Meekes does not pretend to "know" things he has no evidential warrant for, but nor does he shy away from trying to make sense of the evidence (primarily Paul's letters, but also making use of Acts and what is obviously a comprehensive knowledge of the Hellenistic pagan culture of the cities in which these Pauline Christians found themselves. He uses some theoretic models from modern social studies to try to get an angle on some of the evidence, but he is cautious in this and does not make any rash presuppositions about transferring such models across time. The result is a very striking, but still puzzling, picture of groups consisting largely middle-class people and their servants based in households, excited and confused by a new set of stories and ideas, brought to them in various guises by various teachers and writings, but steadied and challenged by the letters of the ever-elusive Paul to stand firm both in the new faith and in the well-established virtues of the Hellenistic (pagan) middle class. Through the noise you can hear the echo of modern evangelical households, including their smugness. This is about the only disappointing thing about the book. Modern Christians, with their disputatiousness, sectarianism and self-righteousness can reasonable point to Paul's letters for justification, and not just spiritually . Paul, though, comes over as a curiously more flexible and attractive character, partly because he tailored each letter to a particular audience, changing emphasis as he did so. I could easily become a fan of Paul.


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