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What We Are Reading

Mugabe and the white African

by Ben Freeth, Mugabe (Cape Town: Zebra, 2011).

Last year I drew attention to David Coltart’s really important book on Zimbabwe, Fifty Years of Tyranny: The Struggle Continues. If you haven’t yet read it please do!!

The forewords to Freeth’s harrowing account are written by two Bishops: Desmond Tutu and John Sentamu. In the West countries like Zimbabwe easily slip off our radar, but they ought not to. Freeth’s is a searing account of his and other farmers’ attempts – literally against all odds – to continue to farm in Zimbabwe and to contribute to the well-being of the country. An unusual but compelling aspect of Freeth’s narrative is that, as a Christian, he finds himself compelled to take spiritual warfare seriously amidst the chaos and dreadful oppression. Bishop Sentamu compares Mugabe’s actions to those of Idi Amin in Uganda and writes that “The international community must coalesce in putting pressure on Mugabe and ZANU-PF.”

If we are to take any action we have to begin by becoming informed about the situation in Zimbabwe. Coltart’s book is simply essential and comprehensive reading. Freeth’s enables one to get a sense of just how difficult life is amidst tyranny.

Craig Bartholomew, July 2017.

To purchase this book click here

Spirituality for the Sent
Casting a new vision for the missional church

By Nathan A. Finn and Keith S. Whitfield

While spiritual formation focuses on the inner life of the Christian, the missional church discussion focuses on one’s life in the world. Nathan A. Finn and Keith S. Whitfield bring together leading voices in both fields to cast a new vision of missional spirituality for the church. Craig G. Bartholomew also contributes a chapter to this volume entitled “Spirituality, Mission and the Drama of Scripture”

Buy this book.

The Eagle, the Cave


by Robert B. Sloan

Hamelin is only a few weeks old as he and his parents, Johnnie and Simon, flee from trackers. Certain of their eventual capture and desperate for their son’s survival, Johnnie and Simon devise a plan that lands Hamelin in a nearby orphanage. As Hamelin grows up in this nontraditional home, people begin to notice that he is “always looking for something or someone else.”

After their inevitable capture, Hamelin’s parents are imprisoned in a nearby world under the control of the ruthless Ren’dal, all the while remembering the son they have abandoned. As Hamelin grows, he learns to deal with some of life’s biggest challenges: making friends, dealing with bullies, and understanding why the people he’s closest to always have to leave him.

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Not Without a fight

By Helen Zille

There is a saying that women hold up half the sky. Sometimes I wonder if it is not far more! South Africa has produced many remarkable women and Helen Zille is one of them. Zille has been mayor of Cape Town, premier of the Western province and leader of the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance. She has a reputation of being incorruptible, no mean feat in a country awash with corruption. Not Without a Fight is a wonderfully honest narrative of her journey and the extraordinary opposition she and her colleagues have faced in the quest for embodying good government. Against so many odds the book breathes hope and a deep commitment to the beloved country. Must reading.

The Arab Center: The Promise of Moderation

(New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008).

By Marwan Muasher,

This is a truly astonishing book and, I would think, a must read on the Arab-Israeli situation. Muasher was the first Jordanian ambassador to Israel and has played a central role in initiatives for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis as well as for reform in Arab countries. He has held multiple important positions in the Jordanian government and met the major political players in recent years. He is also a Christian.

justice for all How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics 

By Jeremiah Unterman

Biblical Ethics vs. Ancient Near East Thought “Take notice. Jeremiah Unterman has written a major book that expertly documents the supremacy of the ethical in the Hebrew Bible. It will affect not only how you understand the Bible but how you live your life.”—Dennis Prager, nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and best-selling author of The Ten Commandments: Still the Greatest Moral Code
Justice for All demonstrates that the Jewish Bible, by radically changing the course of ethical thought, came to exercise enormous influence on Jewish thought and law and also laid the basis for Christian ethics and the broader development of modern Western civilization. Jeremiah Unterman shows us persuasively that the ethics of the Jewish Bible represent a significant moral advance over Ancient Near East cultures. Moreover, he elucidates how the Bible’s unique conception of ethical monotheism, innovative understanding of covenantal law, and revolutionary messages from the prophets form the foundation of many Western civilization ideals. Justice for All connects these timeless biblical texts to the persistent themes of our times: immigration policy, forgiveness and reconciliation, care for the less privileged, and attaining hope for the future despite destruction and exile in this world. jeremiah unterman is a resident scholar at the Herzl Institute, Jerusalem. He is the author of From Repentance to Redemption: Jeremiah’s Thought in Transition and numerous scholarly articles.

One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict

 (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2009).

by Benny Morris,

15 January 2017

Today the peace meeting hosted by France takes place in Paris. It is another important attempt by the international community to nudge the peace process forward in Israel. One of the Jesuits here works at the French Embassy in Jerusalem, which is right next door to the Pontifical Biblical Institute where I sit writing this book note. Thus, I have a sense of a connection with what will transpire in Paris later today.

When I am in Israel I try and read what I can of the local literature. This book, albeit a bit dated, is an interesting narrative of the history of the conflict and attempted solutions. It discusses the swing – following a provocative article by Tony Judt – back towards interest in one state solutions but rejects them. For me, the most intriguing part of the book comes in the brief conclusion where Morris explores possible solutions. He discusses confederate options and then moves towards a possible two state solution with Israel and a joint West Bank-Gaza-Jordan state.

It feels here that things have reached a horrible impasse involving immense suffering. I am reminded of times in apartheid South Africa in which the situation seemed insoluble. And then, I remember well a book published called The Solution. It was so refreshing to even hold a book with such a title. One hopes and prays that by God’s grace the Paris meeting might somehow contribute towards a solution.

Craig Bartholomew, Jerusalem

The Struggle Continues

by David Coultart (selected by Craig Bartholomew).

The struggle continues David Coltart is one of the most prominent political and human rights figures in Zimbabwe. In 2000, he was elected to Parliament and, following the creation of a ‘coalition’ government in September 2008, he was appointed Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, a position he held until August 2013. Over the years, Coltart has been threatened, detained, spuriously prosecuted and has survived several direct attempts on his life. For three decades, Coltart has kept detailed notes and records of all his work, including a meticulous diary of Cabinet dealings, the source material for much of his book.


For better and for worse journalism has played a crucial role in the history of South Africa. In 1994 South Africa became a democracy and two veteran South African journalists who covered the news during apartheid and up to the present have recently published memoirs. Both make for fascinating and often,disturbing, reading.

John Matison, God, Spies and Lies: Finding South Africa’s Future Through its Past (Vlaeberg: Ideas for Africa, 2015).

Allister Sparks, The Sword and the Pen: Six Decades on the Political Frontier (Johannesburg and Cape Town: Jonathan Ball, 2016).

Dru Johnson’s Picks

How repentance became biblicalDavid Lambert’s How Repentance Became Biblical (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Calum Carmichael’s The Spirit of Biblical Law (University of Georgia Press, 1996)

Ed Shaw’s Same-sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life (IVP, 2015)

Benjamin T. Quinn’s Picks

G. Bromiley, Historical Theology;

Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) Love and Responsibility; 

Robin LanAugustine imagee Fox, Augustine: Conversion to Confessions.




Matthew Emerson’s Picks


Paul Griffiths, Decreation: The Last Things of All Creatures (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2015);

Catherine Ella Laufer, Hell’s Destruction: An Exploration of Christ’s Descent to the Dead (Surrey: Ashgate, 2013);

Lyra Pitstick, Christ’s Descent into Hell: John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger, and Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Theology of Holy Saturday (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016).

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