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LENT BOOKS
February 21, 2007
 
Q gives up chocolate every Lent, a simple -- but by no means easy --
discipline to which he is faithful the whole forty days.

I have a harder time determining the shape of my Lenten observance. My diet is fairly strict, so there seems little room for further abstinence
there. I have already given up polo and skydiving, and no longer read
murder mysteries, so those are out.

I think I will take something on, although the thought of yet another
thing to do fills me with dread. But here's a thought: what if some of
my reading is New Testament scholarship? How about I re-immerse myself in the exploration of our ancient faith by reading some recent books about the writings it left us to puzzle over? Not a gifted Bible
scholar myself, I nonetheless love to read books by people who are. And there are some good new ones, approaches to the texts that I have not taken.

It's a deal. No more dense, beautiful novels, not for forty days.
Instead, intriguing looks at a world 2000 years in the past, a world whose writers speak to us today. Of course, it is us to whom they speak today, not to their original audience: we know some things they did not know, and we have forgotten some things they still remembered. If a book ended up in the Bible, each generation has embraced it as it has found itself able to embrace it, and we have inherited that constellation of commentary, as well as the words themselves. Commentary to which we cannot help but add, just by picking up the book and beginning to read.
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