Prolific and conservative New Testament scholar Ben Witherington has read and reviewed Anne Rice's newest novel, Christ the Lord -- Out of Egypt. As I wrote earlier, Anne Rice has returned to her Catholic faith and embarked on writing a three-novel series about Jesus. Professor Witherington is welcoming of Rice's latest venture but offers some informed criticism, though mostly about historical and biblical details. Helpfully, Prof. Witherington provides this synopsis of Rice's novel:
The novel is in essence about the mental journey Jesus makes over the course of a traumatic year which also involved much actual traveling (leaving Egypt, coming to Nazareth, visiting Jerusalem both before and after arriving in Nazareth) as he comes to realize who he is as he pieces together that the “Christmas story” is in fact all about him!
I have bought Rice's book and read the first chapter. It is interesting but so far at least I do not find the writing style compelling. I have not read any of her other books, but suspect that this is more a matter of the point of view. When you write from the point of view of a young child who is confused, it does not make for the clearest literary effort.
In other Ben Witherington news, he has released a new book of theological focus: The Problem with Evangelical Theology: Testing the Exegetical Foundations of Calvinism, Dispensationalism, and Wesleyanism. The book is described as follows:
In this volume Ben Witherington wrestles with some of the big ideas of these major traditional theological systems (sin, God’s sovereignty, prophecy, grace, and the Holy Spirit), asking tough questions about their biblical foundations. For these key doctrines, Witherington argues that evangelicalism sometimes wrongly assumes a biblical warrant for some of its more popular beliefs and, further, pushes the reader to engage the larger story and plot of the Bible to understand these central elements of belief.
I for one am looking forward to reading this. Usually, systemic theology is not of much interest to me, but this kind of overview and critique of present-day evangelical theology looks to be informative and perhaps controversial. Moreover, having read much of Prof. Witherington's other writings, I have confidence that he will treat the matter in an informed and honest manner.