Mysteries of the Kingdom

            in awe of scripture, viewing it through the lens of the kingship of Jesus





Recommended Reading


    Until recently, my understanding of Christianity has been pitifully Western. That is to say I understood Christianity exclusively through Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives (primarily Protestant). I recommend here only those books which have shed the greatest light for me on the historic and global Christian faith.
    I pray my summaries do not dissuade the reader. All of these books include errors alongside important truths, between which the reader must distinguish. Beware: you may slip out of a strictly Protestant mindset into agreeing with two thousand years of Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, the Assyrian Church of the East, and Protestantism as well:

John Burgon, "The Traditional Text"
    Burgon's classic (dating close to 1900) was intended to defend the "majority" manuscript line, but inadvertently showed his Protestant readers the global and unified nature of the early church. The manuscript line underlying most Protestant New Testaments disagrees with:
    - The ancient Greek New Testament of Eastern Orthodoxy
    - The ancient Aramaic "Peshitta" New Testament of the Assyrian Church of the East
    - The ancient Latin Vulgate New Testament of Roman Catholicism
    - The ancient Ethiopic New Testament in Oriental Orthodoxy.
    Coptic Egyptians alone continued to use the manuscript line adopted by most mainline Protestant New Testaments. Despite the political and geographic barriers between them, the historic and global Christian faith agreed about which books comprised the New Testament and about their underlying texts as well.

Timothy Michael Law, "When God Spoke Greek"
    Law presented rather well the Jewish "Septuagint" version of the Old Testament. The Septuagint underlies the Old Testament of every form of Christianity except for Protestantism.
    Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Assyrian Church of the East all agree that at least seven books are holy scripture which Protestants reject. Law did not write as one who believes in the innerancy of scripture, but he has much to teach those of us who do believe in the innerancy of scripture.

Samuel Hugh Moffett "A History of Christianity in Asia, Vol I"
    Moffett here gave us 500 pages of fascinating details regarding the first century birth and subsequent growth of Christianity in India, Persia, and Western Asia. Moffett's scholarly but well written work showcased the grand history of the Assyrian Church of the East plus some of Oriental Orthodoxy. Please don't miss this great book!

N.T. Wright, "What Saint Paul Really Said"
    I highly recommend this short and imperfect book, dating to 1997. Despite problems with what Wright presented regarding justification, his early book marvelously clarified the original gospel as preached in scripture. Surely no topic is more important than the gospel itself. Greatest Stories Ever Told has now published my own work on this topic under the title "Forgotten Gospel" as of February 2nd, 2015.

Vandiver and Keen, "Luther's Lives"
    We Protestants may have worked too hard at making a perfect hero of the flawed man who began the civil war of European Christianity. "Luther's Lives" first offers Philip Melancthon's rosey biography of Martin Luther, then follows it up with Johannes Cochlaeus' vilifying biography of the same man. While the opinions of each writer betray their biases, both men can be trusted to quote Luther accurately. The quotes Cochlaeus provided are eye-openers indeed. These two biographies are the only ones written by contemporaries of Martin Luther.
    Surely Luther's true character lies somewhere between Melanchthon's and Cochlaeus' versions, prompting us to think critically about the founder of our Protests.

Gustaf Aulen, "Christus Victor"
    After Cochlaeus' scathing biography of Luther, Aulen may restore the reader's high opinion of the man. Aulen's "Christus Victor" offered a thoroughly researched presentation of the historic understanding of the cross. Aulen considered Anselm of Canterbury as having veered from the historic Christian understanding of atonement and Martin Luther as having returned to it. Most Protestants except Lutherans follow Anselm's Roman Catholic understanding rather than Luther's. Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Assyrian Christianity all hold to Christus Victor instead.

"The Apostolic Fathers in English," translated by Michael Holmes
    As Protestants, we uniquely disregard the writings of the early church. Our doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers" opens us in part to the capricious interpretations of those who can articulately rationalize their interpretations.
    By contrast, Assyriac Christians, East Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Roman Christians give strong preference to the earliest Christian leaders. The disciples of the apostles are assumed to have received and retaught what the apostles themselves taught. If therefore, any modern teaching disagrees with Polycarp of Smyrna whom the Apostle John personally taught, then Polycarp is assumed to be right and the modern teacher wrong. Likewise to Polycarp's disciple Irenaeus, etcetera.
    This book provides all of the earliest writings from the line of bishops who were discipled by the disciples of Jesus.

Irenaeus of Lyons, "Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching"
    While earlier Christian writings include theology, Irenaeus' short book, "Demonstration," is the first intentional summary of all the theology of the apostles of Jesus.

Eusebius of Caesaria, "Ecclesiastical History"
    Written near the end of the fourth century, Eusebius' work was the first history book ever written about Christianity after the book of Acts. As a warning, the final third of this book is very difficult to read because it primarily describes the many ways in which various Christians were tortured and executed for the faith.

Vassilios Papavassiliou, "Journey to the Kingdom"
    Papavassiliou surprised me in his ability to describe the Eastern Orthodox liturgy in such an enjoyable style. There is something innocent and unusually engaging in his writing which I can't quite identify. "Journey to the Kingdom" will bring any believer into a greater and more sympathetic understanding of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

    I could recommend many more, but these ten have done more to open my eyes than any other books regarding the historic, worldwide Christian faith rather than just the Roman and Protestant flavors to which I was accustomed. Through these books, the Protestant will meet many heroes whom other Christians have celebrated for two thousand years. Enjoy!!



                                                    
-----   Continue the conversation by replying at Twitter.com/Romans611   -----

"Recommended Reading" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on September 15th, 2014. All rights are reserved.