Book Review: Soldiers: German POWs on Fighting, Killing, and Dying

Soldiers: German POWs on Fighting, Killing, and Dying, by Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer is an eye-opening book about the amorality and monstrosities of German soldiers in the Second World War and how this mindset developed.

Soldiers: German POWs on Fighting, Killing, and Dying, by Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer

Sönke Neitzel, a German historian and “currently Professor of Military History at the University of Potsdam”1 and Harold Welzer, a German social psychologist, combine to build a definitive and unassuming portrait based on taped conversations of Germans detained in Allied war prisons. These were secretly done and transcribed by British and American intelligence agents during the Second World War. These dialogues helped the Allied forces better understand the technological and strategic initiatives within the German military during the War. However, the social and moral dynamics found in these discussions had little strategic value and were left unused for over five decades.

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Book Review: The Great War for Civilisation

A picture of the front cover of the book, The Great War for Civilisation

The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by the seasoned author and journalist, Robert Fisk is a compilation of his over 30 years of on-field experiences in the various war zones around the Mediterranean and Middle East. The result is comprehensive portrait from a litany of primary sources that makes this book a definitive work.

This work is difficult, challenging and long, but worth every word. One cannot read this in one, or even two sittings. Nor can it be read for great lengths of time because the dark corners of humanity are ever present in this book. Such imagery requires one to pause repeatedly and escape from such realities.

Fisk purposely over-documented The Great War for Civilisation. There is no other choice for the author to do this as detractors, especially those of government, military and enforcement institutions, would like to refute such findings and discredit him personally. The greatest strength of his book is the documentation that takes it out of the realm of his personal opinion and into the place of factual history. It is a work that has been sorely lacking in this genre.

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The Jews In Their Land During the Talmudic Age

Book Review: The Jews in their Land in the Talmudic Age by Gadaliah Alon.

A magnificent piece of scholarly work that touches on life in Israel from 70 to 640 A.D.

His retelling of the story of Middle-East mankind during this period draws from classical Greek, Roman, Patristic, and Rabbinic sources that is simply astounding. He combines religion, culture, language, economic systems, leadership structures both in the Jewish community and in context of Roman occupation, historical analysis, and social perspectives into an intelligent and cohesive narrative. He especially excels covering the change in religious, social and leadership structures after the destruction of the Temple, and the traditions that underlies the development and establishment of the Mishnah and Talmud.

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Book Review; 1-3 John: A General Reader

A book which attempts and succeeds at helping novice to advanced Greek New Testament students improve their reading and textual critical skills.

I John : A General Reader, edited by J. Klay Harrison and Chad M. Foster, aims to target those finished with the basics of New Testament Greek and want to advance their skills — an area that is greatly lacking in resources and may be the source of why so many abandon Greek studies. I have been feeling that the whole realm of ancient Greek studies is in a woefully neglected state, greatly due to lack of demand and also that its methodology, and outdated teaching manuals, are putting it into the realm of obscurity and eccentrics. Then this comes across my desk and gives hope, opening the door for more to successfully study this genre. This is a good sign and a start of new things to come.

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Review: A.D. The Bible Continues

ADBibleContinues Poster

My brief review of A.D. The Bible Continues “The Spirit Arrives,” as shown on NBC on Sunday, April 19th, 2015.

It was exciting to find out a TV narrative on the mystical event of Pentecost was going to be produced by an established filmmaker, but when broadcast, it did not supply any answers to this age-old debate.

When NBC announced that they were going to do one broadcast in the A.D. The Bible Continues series on Pentecost, I was very intrigued. How were they going to cover this difficult text in the Book of Acts? Would it be a miracle of speaking or hearing? Was it going to be ecstatic utterances or languages? Did the Apostles possess this gift for the rest of their lives or was it just temporary? What was the purpose of it?

As many are well aware, this website is the source for the Gift of Tongues Project which is a repository of all things related to the Christian doctrine of tongues — from the earliest original Greek texts all the way to the Azusa Street Revival in the twentieth century. It has been a long process to accumulate all this data and see first-hand how the story of Christian tongues has evolved throughout the centuries.

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Book Review: My Promised Land

My Promised Land Cover

My Promised Land is a controversial, thought provoking and important read for those wanting to understand the Middle East from an Israeli perspective.

The well known Israeli journalist, Ari Shavit, weaves a delicate story of the ever changing doctrine of Zionism from its utopian non-sectarian, communist vision of the early 1900s to its current identity of self-preservation. He shows a modern Israel stripped of its stereotypes and what it really is — a country mired in an identity crisis. A place that is part-libertarian, hedonist, Orthodox, Western European, Middle Eastern, and everything inbetween. These competing forces along with the ominous threat of a much larger Arab community around them leads Shavit to be cynical of Israel’s future.

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Film Review: God Loves Uganda

God Loves Uganda Cover

God Loves Uganda — a faulty premise that neglects important details and falls for grandiose stereotyping.

This documentary film by the acclaimed director Roger Ross Williams is a story about the complex mix of homosexuality, faith and politics in Uganda. He sees it as religious fanaticism stoking the flames of hatred and forcefully blames the influence of American evangelicals as the root cause of Ugandan homophobia.

His documentary thesis is supported by filming a devoted group of followers, and highlighting one of their former leaders, Lou Engle, from the International House of Prayer — an unaffiliated charismatic community located in Kansas City.

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Book Review: The Swerve

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Stephen Greenblatt’s book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, is an excellently well written book that combines both history and storytelling.

It is a scintillating work of historical fiction that is equal to the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Greenblatt’s book revolves around the life and times of a fifteenth century Florentine/Roman scholar and one time secretary to the Pope, Poggio Bracciolini, and his discovery of a lost poem entitled De Rerum Natura by the first century BC poet Titus Lucretius Carus.

The Swerve strings together the complex weave of religion, society, corruption, greed, immorality, Greek philosophy, war, the lives of monasteries, monks, and libraries to tell the story. This narrative is structured by following Poggio Bracciolini in his pursuits. The Book revolves around Poggio finding this poem which was unknown to civilization for a number of centuries.

He believes that the discovery of this poem written by Lucretius was a cornerstone in the development of humanism and the reshaping of what is now become the modern world.

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Book Review: God’s Plagiarist

God’s Plagiarist: Being the Account of the Fabulous Industry and Irregular Commerce of the Abbé Migne, by R. Howard Bloch is a wonderfully written, and documented biography of Jacques-Paul Migne.

Who is J.P. Migne, and why would Bloch spend so much considerable time researching, analyzing, and documenting nineteenth century French archives on such a name? Migne was the principal person responsible for publishing Patrologia Graeca, and Patrologia Latina — both series contains the most comprehensive texts of the Church Fathers from Clement to the fourteenth century ever available. It is likely this feat will never be repeated again.

However, the manner by which Migne so zealously went about to produce such works are full of intrigue. The approach of the book is part detective, part ethics, and respective of the political and religious background of nineteenth century France. Bloch believes it to be futile to figure out if Migne was altruistic or self-serving in motivation. He leaves that part for the reader to figure out.

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