Surviving Difficult Church Members
Robert D. Dale, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1984, 125 pages, $6.95, paper. Reviewed by J. David Newman, executive editor, MINISTRY.
Everyone knows at least one difficult person. In this book, the fourth title in the Creative Leadership Series, Robert Dale discusses six different personality types: the traditionalist, the hostile, the lonely, the apathetic, the cliquish, and the "noncommunicating crazymaker." A chapter is devoted to describing each type, and an additional chapter to suggesting solutions for each problem.
While many books are available on this subject, this is one of the best and should be in every minister's library.
The Art of Biblical Narrative
Robert Alter, Basic Books, 1981, 188 pages, $7-95, paper. Reviewed by K. Campbell Norskov, English student, Lambuth College, Jackson, Tennessee.
Robert Alter, professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California, has written a book that will make you want to read your Bible all over again. Proceeding as the scholar he is, Alter carefully considers the components of Bible stories, pointing out the means used to construct unflinchingly honest documentary--artistically. Against the background of dynamic tension between divine purpose and human freedom, the skillful Hebrew writers ply four general techniques: words, action, dialogue, and narration. They weave accounts that tell only relevant facts, and move to a carefully orchestrated plan of allusion, foreshadowing, and discreet interpretation.
Alter concentrates on the preexilic writings, but his approach illumines the entire Bible. I blinked at the infrequent use of words like fairy tale or myth, but he uses these terms to identify narrative style, not to detract from the authority of the Bible.
Alter saves us from the modern fallacy that "if it is ancient, it must be simple" and points out the austere Oriental artistry in the book that is our manual of belief.
Illustrating Paul's Letter to the Romans. James E. Hightower, Jr., Compiler, Broadman Press, 1984, 121 pages, $4.95, paper. If you're planning to preach a sermon on Romans, this small book of illustrations will help bring theology to life. Organized for easy use--illustrations follow along in textual order with the book of Romans.
Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church. Elgin Moyer, revised and enlarged by Earle. E. Cairns, Moody Press, Chicago, 1982, 449 pages, $19.95. If you knew that Cyrus Hall McCormick invented a reaping machine but didn't know that he was a devoutly religious man whose contributions helped found McCormick Theological Seminary, or if you didn't know that Francis Scott Key was influential in the beginning of the American Sunday School Union, you'll find fascinating reading here. If you can't remember who Carpocrates was or would like to know how Dwight L. Moody got his start in church work, you'll find this a valuable ready reference. More than 2,000 religious leaders and others connected with the church are included. A twenty-four page chronological index and outline of church history in the front matter is a helpful bonus.
Harper's World of the New Testament. Edwin Yamauchi, Harper and Row, 1981, 128 pages, $9.95, paper. A rich source of background material, especially on the historical and cultural milieu of the first century. A valuable resource for any student of the New Testament. Helpful illustrations for sermon preparation. Many photos, maps, and illustrations. Major divisions: The Jewish World, Myths and Cults, The Roman Empire, and Roman Life and Beliefs.
New Visions for the Long Pastorate. Roy M. Oswald, Gail D. Hinand, William Christ Hobgood, and Barton M. Lloyd, The Alban Institute, Mt. St. Alban, Washington, D.C. 20016; 1983, 108 pages, $10.25, paper. A study of pastors who have had long pastorates, what made them successful, what skills are necessary, what skills should be developed. Most of the suggestions would be valuable to any pastor seeking better interpersonal relations.
The Right to Silence. William Harold Tiemann and John C. Bush, Abingdon, 1984, 252 pages, $10.95, paper. A revision and updating of an earlier book. A good primer for clergy who want to understand the laws affecting their confidential counseling.
Church and Family Growing Together. John C. Howell, Broadman, 1984, 168 pages, $5.95, paper. Numerous specialized bibliographies help make this a valuable guide.