Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Morning devotions--a bibliography

Probably only a librarian would read a bibliography for devotions and get all teary! Can't help it. I think I've mentioned this book before, but it continues to amaze me, and it's 65 years old. If you saw a 1944 Peloubet's select notes on the International Sunday School Lessons at a yard sale or book store, it would probably cost fifty cents, if they weren't offering it for kindling. Mine was free, I think, selected from a "not needed, free to a good home" box. [Aside: once when I was the librarian at the vet school at Ohio State, I put a huge bundle of equine magazines that we kept for 2 years only on a table in the hall and put up a sign "free to a good home." Someone put the journals on the floor and took the table!]

This editor (Wilbur M. Smith) includes the most amazing, analytical and critical bibliographies which say more in a sentence or two than most reviewers with all their hedgings and howevers do today. If most of the book was worthless, but one chapter was outstanding, he said so. In this volume there is an extensive bibliography in the introduction for I. Lives of Christ, (25 titles); II. Useful for the study of Mark's Gospel (one list for English and one for Greek), (23 titles); III. Biographies of the Apostle Paul, (23 titles); and IV. Old Testament History (8 titles). Then each lesson (there are quarterly themes) has a section called "The Teacher's Library." These are books the editor recommends in addition to those listed in the introduction, or he selects specific page numbers from titles mentioned in the introduction. For instance, in the longer bibliography:
    ALEXANDER WHYTE, The walk, conversation, and Character of Jesus Christ Our Lord, New York, Chicago, 1905. "A book that stands altogether by itself on the subjects which it treats. A wonderfully suggestive exposition of various texts in the Gospel relating to the person of Christ, which are too frequently overlooked." (p. 5) Then in lesson one, it appears again in The Teacher's Library paragraph as: "On verse 12 see a great chapter by Alexander Whyte in his The walk, conversation, and character of Jesus Christ out Lord, 105-114."
One author in this initial bibliography he sets above all the rest, G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit, which in 1943 he said couldn't be purchased anywhere in the English world because it was out of print, unless at a second hand book store. So I googled that title, read what the reviewers said, and read some excerpts. The first page grabbed me for its clarity and style. I'm putting it on my list. I'm looking over my right shoulder at my stuffed, jammed book shelves, and I see no room. This will require some tough decisions. Christian books that chit chat with anecdotes, or Christian books that teach and inspire.

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