Books Worth Reading
The Resurrection of the Messiah, by Christopher Bryan. Oxford University Press (New York, 2011). 456 pp., $39.95 HB.

The Resurrection of the Messiah, by Christopher Bryan may be the best book on this topic that this reviewer has ever read.

Bryan manages his material in three parts. In the first part he presents the setting or the context for studying resurrection, namely, Israel’s hope and death and afterlife in the Greco-Roman world. The Christian claim, according to Bryan, is that of a “transformed physicality, a transformed physicality that [Jesus’ followers] perceived in terms of Jewish resurrection belief and Jewish eschatological hope.”

The second part of the book presents the witnesses, specifically Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. Here, Bryan carefully exegetes the biblical passages pertaining to Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and appearances.

Bryan questions the witnesses in part three. Here, he draws conclusions and ties those into Christian doctrine.

The 432-page book consists of 234 pages of text and 198 pages of notes, bibliography, and indices. Particularly helpful in the notes section is the page header which indicates the pages of the text to which the notes refer.

A Land More Kind Than Home (NY: HarperCollins, 2012) is Wiley Cash’s first novel, and it is an outstanding creative work of fiction. Cash, who teaches English at Bethany College and lives with his wife in West Virginia, first introduces the character of Adelaide Lyle, who narrates the moving and renaming of her church.

She writes: “The name of our congregation got changed. . . , from French Broad Church of Christ to River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following. Under that new sign, right out there by the road, [Carson] Chambliss lettered the words, ‘Mark 16:17-18’ in black paint, and that was just about all he felt led to preach on too, and that’s why I had to do what I done. I’d seen enough, too much, and it was my time to go.”

After having Lyle tell the story from her point of view, Cash introduces Jess Hall. Jess has an older brother, Christopher, called Stump, parents named Ben and Julie, and a grandfather, Jimmy Hall. Jess, about nine years old, also has a playmate named Joe Bill, with whom he shares many adventures.

The reader is then introduced to Clem Barefield, the sheriff of Madison County, North Carolina, whose son, Jeff, was killed in an electrical accident. Jimmy Hall was the foreman of the electrical repair crew when Jeff was electrocuted. Barefield enters the story to investigate what happened to Stump at River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following.

Each major character in the novel has a voice, and each voice comes through loud and clear. Each major character has a past, which the reader learns of directly from the character. To find out what happened to Stump (Christopher) Hall in River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following, the reader must keep listening patiently to the characters as they unravel the story.

“In a galaxy far, far away. . .” there were once two trilogies of Star Wars films. Sex, Politics, and Religion in Star Wars is an anthology of essays edited by Doublas Brode and Leah Deyneka (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2012). It is amazing what a 36-year perspective does!

The first Star Wars, Episode IV, “A New Hope,” was released in 1977. Not only was George Lucas’s brainchild a huge box office success, it began a saga whose appeal to the public does not appear to be in any danger of abating.

Individual essays deal with Lucas’s early life and career, the influence of eastern religions on the saga, the Force and its Jedi-Hebraic connection, the presence of Cold War politics, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and lots more.

The essays are easy to read, and they are indexed.

FATHER BOYER, a priest for 38 years and an instructor in the Religious Studies Department of Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo., for 26 years, is the author of 35 books primarily in the areas of biblical and liturgical spirituality. His latest book is Nature Spirituality: Praying with Wind, Water, Earth, Fire (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2013).