Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sze Zeng’s Favourite Reads in 2007

I managed to read only about 14 books last year (excluding those partially read). I am here recapping which books that were affecting Sze Zeng’s life and structuring him into who he is and who he is becoming. In fact, I think one might be able to make intelligent guess on my personhood and thoughts from the following list of my favourite read last year.

Epistemology/ Philosophy Category

The Shaping of Rationality
J. Wentzel van Huysteen

A very exciting book introduced by Ron Choong, a student of van Huysteen, on a constructive approach towards establishing a rationality which is not vulnerable to Descarte’s foundationalism and anti-foundationalism. A promising approach which strive to bridge the gap between the studies of religion and natural science by drawing on a shared resource of rationality. I’m grateful to Ron for this recommendation.

Hermeneutics/ Biblical Interpretation Category

Inspiration (New Century Theology)
David R. Law

Found this book lying at the dusty discounted corner of a local Catholic bookshop. It expounds the theological and critical issues relating to the doctrine of inspiration of the Bible. Though it is not thick, it covers rather wide discussion on the doctrine, drawing insights from relevant scholars from various traditions as its dialogue partners.

Culture/ Contemporary Issue Category

Technology and Human Becoming
Philip Hefner

The smallest of all the books that I remember reading in 2007. But it is also the one that leave the deepest impression on me. It deals with humans’ relation and response towards technology. It draws on movies like A.I, Blade Runner, I. Robot, and others to bring out his points. Absolutely illuminating and bizarre at some point. This book is a necessity for all who desire to be relevant not only for today but also for tomorrow’s world.

Biblical Studies Category

The Bible After Babel
John J. Collins

I am grateful to Niels P. Lemche for this recommendation. It is an eye-opener to student of biblical studies. It discusses the historical-critical criticism on the biblical text and how we have got it wrong in the past, and trying to get it right now, and what can we expect to get from it in the future with the current condition in biblical studies.

Ethics Category

The Way Forward: Christian Voices On Homosexuality And The Church
(edited by) Timothy Bradshaw

The book contains essays from Rowan Williams, Anthony C. Thiselton, Oliver O’Donovan and others. Needless to say more...

Theology/ Spirituality/ Christian Devotion/ Worldview Category

Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self
Anthony C. Thiselton

A majestic work that confronts the nihilistic postmodern condition on one hand, and the anti-realism theology on the other. Thiselton includes a variety of persona from Nietzsche to Freud to Wittgenstein to Don Cupitt to Gadamer to Ricouer in his discussion. One cannot help but to appreciate more of one’s identity, the nature of the world, and the realness of God when the last page was flipped. Remarkably Thiselton mentions one of his students, Mark Chan (currently the pastor of Evangel Christian Church and a lecturer at Trinity Theological College in Singapore), who was one of the lecturers that interviewed me during my application for enrolment at TTC. Apparently he is also someone that I humbly approached a few times for guidance.

Books that I struggle most to understand:

1) In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God’s Presence in a Scientific World – (edited by) Philip Clayton, Arthur Peacocke
Most struggles because this is a rather new concept to me as I was being bred as a classical theist and Calvinistic trinitarianism when I started my reading on God’s relation with the world. These are only on the one end. On the other end, having a F9 for chemistry, F8 for physics, and a C5 for biology intensify the struggle to understand a Panentheistic reflections on God’s presence in a scientific world.

2) Renewing Biblical Interpretation – (edited by) Craig Bartholomew, Colin Greene, Karl Moller
This book is not meant for elementary readers in hermeneutics or biblical interpretation. Though I do sense that the essayists try to avoid jargons and familiarized academic phrasing, the essays are really difficult to understand. Probably the driest book on biblical hermeneutics that I have come across. Thiselton’s Two Horizons is easier, though his arguments need extra effort if they are meant to be followed.

3) The Israelites in History and Traditions – Niels Peter Lemche
This is totally new to me. NPL discusses anthropology theories, social theories and archaeological findings in regards to the OT. The introduction and the first chapter are still fine but from chapter two onwards, the more I read, the more I am frustrated for not able to follow his arguments. But I have been very patient to read his text again and again to get what he means. And I am really glad when I managed to finished it!


Kar Yong said...

Pretty good selection - at least you are better read than the sense that you covered various categories - Can't say that for myself as my list is narrowly limited to NT studies....and even that, it is primarily Pauline studies....

I think it's time for me to read from other categories soon.....

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Kar Yong,

You are an optimistic person. For me, I see that I lack substance in all these categories because I can never go deep into one. The usual goes "Jack of all trade; Master of none".

My modified version is "Jack of all trade; Master of 'Jack of all trade'". So, in this sense, one is 'deep' on the superficial level of these categories.


Sze Zeng said...

Kar Yong,

At least, now I know who can I go to for guidance relating to the New Perspective on Paul :)

Seeker said...

Hi Sze Zeng,

You have an impressive reading list for 2007, but then most students do. I was particularly attracted to your list because of the inclusion of Don Cupitt, one of my favorite philosophers. And your inclusion of Phil Hefner also struck my eye; I'll tell Phil about it the next time I see him. We are both members of IRAS (Institute on Religion in an Age of Science); you might find our group of interest. ( My reading list is on LibraryThing. To see it, go there and search for a member called Seeker. That is me. Good luck to you in your studies.


Sze Zeng said...

Hi Alton,

Thank you for dropping by and comment.

I applied for an undergraduate course last year but my application didn't went through. So I didn't manage to be a student. Now I'm working and doing my own reading during free time. Ask if I will apply again anytime soon? Well, not in the near future due to some practical reasons.

Thank you for passing the message to Phil Hefner. His perception is bizarre though most interesting. I think he precedes many (F.Fukuyama for one) on 'post-human' discussion.

IRAS is certainly interesting. I hope there is similar group in Singapore and Malaysia, or anywhere in this region.