An Unconventional God– Part Three

An Unconventional God– Part Three November 13, 2020

BEN: A practical question— why no bibliography in this book? It is after all a book published by Baker Academic, not merely Baker generic? I found that confusing. I realize there are a few references to your other works in the few footnotes sprinkled throughout, but on the important topic of Jesus and the Spirit a bibliography for further reading would be very helpful.

JACK: Good question, Ben. You are probably right. Maybe I should leave it at that. But, like you, I’m an academic, so I never “leave it at that!” Let me try, therefore, to respond, if a response is possible. First, there are great bibliographies available. Volker Rabens and I complied the bibliography on the Holy Spirit in the Oxford Bibliographies Online. Though a bit dated now, it is thorough. It is annotated. It is reliable. Frankly, I should have put some of the entries, summaries and all, in An Unconventional God. It is probably shortsighted that I did not.

Second, books on the Holy Spirit tend to fall into two categories: popular and scholarly. On the one hand, I do not think the popular books are of much help. Or maybe I should say the contemporary penchant for self-help when it comes to the Spirit renders them somewhat utilitarian, somewhat predictable—what the Holy Spirit does for us. They don’t dig deep and fire our imagination about Jesus.

On the other hand, scholarly books are often relatively inaccessible to a typical reader. There is a recent spate of dissertations on the Spirit from England, for example, but they are not particularly readable. The best book on the subject, in my opinion, is Jimmy Dunn’s Jesus and the Spirit: A Study of the Religious and Charismatic Experience of Jesus and the First Christians as Reflected in the New Testament. But this is tough-going. I figure that anyone interested in the scholarly side will know about such a book (which, again, is featured in Oxford Bibliographies Online), so they don’t need me to tell them about it.

Third, An Unconventional God doesn’t fit either category comfortably. It’s not self-help. That’s for sure! And it is not an act of pure scholarship, weighted with footnotes, because I want an intelligent reader to be drawn into it rather than intimidated by it. But you are right, Ben. It would have been the work of an afternoon to add a bibliography, and I probably should have.

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