My Journey So Far by Andrew White (Lion Books, £14.99). Canon Andrew White is known as the “Vicar of Baghdad”. He is familiar to many as a courageous and faithful Christian witness in that troubled city. A man of reconciliation and peace, pastor to the only Anglican church in Baghdad, White has spent his life since ordination bringing together Muslims and Christians, Israelis and Palestinians, Shia and Sunni, often at great risk. Despite suffering from multiple sclerosis, he continues to provide food, healthcare and education to beleaguered people. His book should be read by all who want peace in the Middle East.
Apostle of the North by Peter Francis Lupton (Gracewing, £20). Lupton, a member of the Catholic Record Society, has written a comprehensive biography of a little-known figure in the history of Catholicism in this country who deserves to be better known. Fr Rowland Broomhead was born into a recusant family in Sheffield and in his adult life exerted great influence over the whole of the Northern Vicariate and the establishment of Ushaw College. Against the background of the Industrial Revolution and Emancipation, he worked tirelessly to build churches, hospitals and schools.
The Upside-down Bible by Symon Hill (DLT, £9.99). The author, a Christian activist, subtitles his book What Jesus really said about money, sex and violence. Books that tell us “what Jesus really said” have to be handled with caution, as they often try to separate Jesus from the Church he founded. Allowing for this caveat, Hill has written a lively study, utilising the insights he has gained from groups of people who have no Church background and who bring their own distinctive interpretation to the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s behaviour. His book reminds us that tradition must never become a straitjacket.
Power, Ethics and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity by Julia Watts Belser (Cambridge University Press, £65). Drought was “the pre-eminent climate crisis of the ancient Mediterranean world”, so it naturally became a focus of theological contemplation. On one reading, as in the Book of Deuteronomy, such natural disasters were the clearest divine rebukes for disobedience. But Belser reveals that other texts in Jewish Late Antiquity took a more ambiguous approach: when the rains refused to fall, was it time to fast and pray – and if so, how? There are precious insights into the ways ancient peoples interpreted and confronted ecological crises.
Liberation through Reconciliation by O Ernesto Valiente (Fordham University Press, £66). Valiente aims for a theology of reconciliation based on the thoughts of Jon Sobrino, rooted in notions of truth and justice, and applicable not just in Valiente’s native El Salvador but also on the global stage. The grounding in Liberation Theology will not delight everyone but the book has a keen sense of the material, mental and spiritual scars left by conflict and of how long they take to heal. There is also a useful broader assessment of Sobrino’s life and work.