Johannesburg, South Africa | Member Since 2013
More or less three years ago I opened a facsimile edition of the oldest codex of the complete Christian bible, the fourth century Codex Sinaiticus. I remember thinking while being awed by it that except for the Dead Sea Scrolls, this is the oldest text of the Bible we have - and it is in Greek! This realisation took me on a personal journey to reassess the Greek Old Testament, better known as the Septuagint. When Audible Studios published, Alexander Von Humboldt Fellow & Junior Research Fellow at Oxford, Dr. Timothy Michael Law’s book “When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible” (OUP) I bought it almost immediately.
This is - as far as I know - the only popular introduction aimed at ‘lay’ persons. Most books on the Septuagint are written for scholars and postgraduates, though some like Jennifer M Dines’ “The Septuagint” (T & T Clark) can also be considered for everyone as it is clear and easy to read. That said, Timothy Law’s book comes at the right time, almost six years after “A New English Translation of the Septuagint” (NETS) was published. Readers and listeners of Law’s book who cannot read Greek, can access the text of the Septuagint through an excellent translation when necessary. (However, if you just want to follow his argument, remember to download the PDF file that accompanies the audio book.)
Law writes from a Christian perspective. He begins his book by sketching the effects of the Hellenisation of the Ancient Mediterranean world and how it created the necessity for a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Fairly soon it becomes clear that he wants to venerate the Septuagint as the original bible of the early Church. It has become popular in Septuagint scholarly circles to make out a plea for returning to the Septuagint as the bible of the Church. To an extent it seems that he does it also. (Yet the same plea could be made out for the Latin Vulgate.) But Law has a point, the Septuagint was indeed the preferred text used by the New Testament writers, including Paul and Matthew. It also contains important variant readings that differs from the Masoretic text (the Mediaeval Hebrew Text of the Old Testament provided with vowel marks by the Ben Asher family or Masoretes) which he claims has been downplayed due to conservative theological agendas for too long. I think that this is one of things I found of value in Law’s book, he convincingly illustrates that the Septuagint - through a translation of an often lost Hebrew text - bears witness to alternative textual traditions. Together with that, he offers a different approach to textual authority than the limiting doctrine of “in-errancy.” Highlighting Origen, Augustine and other church fathers’ views he shows how the early Church accommodated different texts of the Bible.
I found Law’s critical and honest approach to the legends surrounding the creation and translation of the Septuagint, of great value. Having read various books that would touch on letter of Aristeas which tells about how it came to be that the Septuagint was translated, I now realise that various scholars may have reported only what other scholars had to say about it. It is clear to me now that the letter of Aristeas doesn’t say explicitly that 70 scholars translated the Septuagint over a certain period in seclusion where after they compared their translations to that of each other, finding them to be exactly the same. This is a later interpretation of the story.
Another issue that Law made me think about was the order of the Decalogue (ten commandments) and how it differs (especially in order) between the scrolls from the Dead Sea, the Septuagint and the Gospels. One cannot just presume that the Hebrew text’s order is the correct order, which has an influence on how one should evaluate Jesus quoting of the commandments.
This brings me to the one thing that I have been wondering about Law’s study. While he illustrates how complex it can be when dealing with quotations of the Septuagint texts and its revisions in the New Testament, he seems to assume that the New Testament writers didn’t adjust the text of the Septuagint to make a point. All differences between the Septuagint and the New Testament can therefore be explained in terms of different layers of Septuagint texts that were used by the New Testament writers. If I take his argument a bit further it would mean that theoretically one should be able to date various books in the New Testament according to the revisions and type of Septuagint text that they used. I am a bit sceptical about his assumption that the Septuagint’s text was almost mechanically used by the New Testament writers.
All that said, I think that Dr. Law’s “When God spoke Greek” is a very timely introduction to the Septuagint. I admire him for writing a popular introduction on a highly technical topic. It is a tremendously important work which - I hope - will bring a new appreciation for the Septuagint. Maybe a new generation of seminary students will buy the ‘Biblia Graeca’ of the German Bible Society which contains both the critical texts of the New Testament and the Septuagint and not just the New Testament and ‘Biblia Hebraica.’
“When God spoke Greek” is an up to date, engaging work of which every Christian and Jew should take note. It illuminates the two religious traditions through the Sacred Scriptures of the Hellenistic Jew and the story of how it became the Scriptures of the Christian Church until it was replaced in the West with the Vulgate. It definitely challenges long-held perceptions on theology, the Bible and its text.
I wish I could say that I enjoyed Stephen F. McLaughlin narration as much as the content of the book. He is an established audio book narrator with more than 20 books up his sleeve. His pronunciation of word and sentences is clear and easy to follow. His accent is quite neutral. Having listened to other samples of his interpretative reading, I cannot say that this was his best reading. I suspect that he read the book slower than most of his other productions. Furthermore I really got the idea that he doesn’t know Greek, Hebrew or Latin, especially because of accent placed wrongly on words. However McLaughlin gave a decent performance that shouldn’t hinder you to buy the audio book.
“When God spoke Greek” is a must-have for anyone interested in the story of the Bible.
If you are Anglican or Episcopalian this book might just be the right book for you. Dealing with Baptism, Eucharist, the Bible and Prayer, Archbishop emeritus Dr. Rowan Williams gives an overview of what it means to be a Christian, therefore the title is appropriate.
Each subject focus on a very basic and easy to understand concept of baptism, the Eucharist, the Bible and prayer. I found the subject matter very basic.
Maybe this is the type of book for newly converted Christians. It is pious, though engaging, basic though to the point.
I admire Orson Scott Card's (OSC) bravery in bringing together various strands of time together in one big bang. Building on the previous two novels OSC Rigg and his friends successfully stops the visitors from destroying the planet Garden, but only after failing in some time-lines.
OSC explores in this novel with developing the same character in different ways at different times and bringing the different versions of the same character together to join forces against the enemy. While I admire this approach, I got lost in al the entanglements and time-streams that the characters felt a bit shallow at times. It is as if they developed but still stayed too much the same.
I am not sure who will find this book enjoyable, maybe die-hard fans of OSC. I do believe that it might not be everybody's cup of tea. For me, having so much time-travel back and forth in time, ensured that I got lost.
I think this book is a far cry from Ender's Game.
Kirby Heyborne, Emily Rankin and Stefan Rudnicki did a great job of narrating the story.
If you have nothing to do and a lot of time to kill, are not so much worried about a good plot, maybe this could be one of the books you might consider listening too.
In a world called Erna seemingly hostile to human dreams and thoughts an unusual story draws to a close. Has the fallen prophet an vampire-like creature of the religion in the one god, the God of Earth and Erna, done enough to be redeemed out of his centuries of hunting women as prey? Will the priest Reverend Damien Canon Vrice done enough to save his friend? How will he choose between his religion and his loyalty to a very dark person?
C.S. Friedman ends a successful trilogy with a good ending. While I thought she was totally against religion - almost like Philip Pullman - she was debating the value of religion throughout the story. I found her approach interesting and refreshing.
R.C. Bray did an excellent job of reading the book. It is very much in the same line as the other two books he read in the trilogy.
If you want a relaxing well put together fantasy story, why not give this trilogy a go?
In “The Industrial Revolution” lecture series Prof Patrick N. Allitt (professor of American History at Emory University) introduces the listener in 36 half hour lectures packed with information, to those technologies which - according to him - we all take for granted and never think about until it is lacking. Then we react with annoyance.
Ironically enough, while listening to this series, South Africa was forced into load shedding (the switching off of power grids for a certain amount of time) due to a coal silo that collapsed at one of the coal power plantations. This followed an event where Rand Water couldn’t provide water to great areas of the Gauteng Province because of some pump failures. I therefore can say, Prof Allitt’s argument hit home!
He also argues in this course that the early industrialists were seen as people with big fat purses who extorted the working labour class to live in luxury. While this might be the case in some instances the legacy of the Industrial Revolution are the upliftment of the living standard of the peasant population partaking in the project. He makes a striking statement in the beginning of the course that the kings of old were poorer than the peasants of today. The Industrial Revolution came up with the idea of continuous improvement.
If you want to know how and why things have changed so drastically over the last 250 years, this course seems a good place to start. While half of the lectures are focussed on the Industrial Revolution as it began and progress in 18th century Britain, the rest of the lectures are split up in the Industrialisation of the United States of America, Europe, Russia, Japan, India, Taiwan and China. I thought Prof Allitt’s focus on technology and how it impacted on who won the Second World War was very informative and interesting.
I was amazed that he thought of Sub-Saharan Africa as backwards and not yet there (my words). I am not completely convinced that he knows what is happening in Africa. Maybe his statement is too sweeping.
I was intrigued by the idea that different political systems saw the need for industrialisation, though it failed miserably if the state was too authoritarian. Though not mentioned by him, it seems to me that Apartheid in South Africa also had industrialisation as its driving force - another odd marriage partner of the Industrial Revolution.
With his British accent and all, Prof Allitt is an excellent presenter and has compiled a very informative, thought-provoking course. Generally he seems to be neutral in his presentation and comes to an appreciation of the progress of humanity through industrialisation. (One thing that bothered me, was when he talked about the Protestant groupings as sects. I wonder if he is Anglican or Roman Catholic?)
In general this is an excellent well-prepared and researched course that covers a vast array of subjects relating to the Industrial Revolution (as Fredrik Engels dubbed it). Any listener will be challenged by the amount of information that needs to be thought through. I can almost guarantee that it will help you to orientate yourself in terms of your own biases and blind spots towards technology and progress.
Celia S. Friedman appears to be an established American fantasy writer. The Coldfire Trilogy the first trilogy she ever published. ‘Black Sun Rising’ is the first book of the trilogy, though she has later written a prequel to the trilogy in the form of a novella called ‘Dominion’ (+/-30 pages, guessing by the length of the audio recording). It was the latter that draw me into this trilogy.
It is an excellent introduction to the planet of Erna, a planet which in substance is very different from earth and also consists out of a mysterious substance called Fae (think of an animistic reality which really comes true) that makes people’s dreams come to life and gain substance. In ‘Dominion’ we are introduced to Gerralt Tarrant a seemingly undead vampire and fallen prophet of the Faith in the One God, creator of Earth and Erna who seems to have made some dark covenant to yield and bend the Fae to his purposes. He seems evil to his core, but maybe there could be some goodness left in him… somewhere. These were the two concepts that I found quite original and that draw me to ‘Black Sun Rising.’
‘Black Sun Rising’ introduces the listener to the Reverend Damien Canon Vrice, whom is a Jesuit-like warrior priest fighting the evil conjured up by the Fae through human dreams. He has just arrived in the great city of Jaggonath, the seat of the Eastern Patriarchy from the Western Matriarchy. (I wondered if there is not a play on the Latin Western (Roman Catholic) Church and the Eastern (Orthodox) Church.) Falling in love with a heathen ‘adept’ (a person who has assimilated with Erna and can yield some natural power over the Fae), Vrice is summersaulted into an adventure when some mysterious creatures from the Rakh lands (a place inhabited by an indigenous species of Erna called the Rakh which seems to have evolved into something maybe more human) steals her ‘adept’-powers. Besotted by love Vrice sets out with Ciani, the ‘adept’ and his lover, to get her powers back.
However, as they travel to these mysterious lands, they meet a dark and threatening stranger, seemingly one of the dark minions of the Hunter, the fallen prophet of Vrice’s church, Gerralt Tarrent.
Friedman explores themes of good and evil, truth and lies, corruption and purity within this novel. I think that she successfully shows that a diamond has many sides, while entertaining the reader/ listener with wit and misdirection. Though I sometimes felt that some of her characters are too predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and went on to listen to “When True Night Falls” and “Crown of Shadows.” In many ways the books stays within the classical style of the hero’s journey. Yet there is enough suspense and intrigue to give a satisfactory listening experience. The trilogy is a worthwhile buy.
R.C. Bray is an established audio book narrator, though I see some reviewers complained about his reading. Though his American accent came over more pronounced at some places in the audio book than other, I found his narration quite enjoyable. He did especially a good job with the demon voice of Calista.
If you are looking for a fantasy trilogy with some interesting concepts, enough intrigue to hold you and keep you guessing and with a good ending, this trilogy comes highly recommended.
If you are looking for something short and to the point and how to start or participate in a conversation, you might find this short course just right. Prof. Anne Curzan teaches English at the University of Michigan and is an excellent Linguist. In this course you will not only learn more about conversations, you will also receive some useful tips that will allow you to read a conversation better. I found, for instance, the way that one uses and phrases questions in different contexts very interesting.
So why don't I give it a five... The course though it even contains excellent role plays and is well presented, is in certain ways very basic. It is an appetiser that might be the starting point, but one needs to dig deeper. Still it comes highly recommended.
It's seldom that a collection of short stories and novellas of such a vast array of authors pulls a listener time after time into its narrative worlds. While I bought the book because of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire Novella, I was pleasantly surprised by the 20 other stories.
Though not sticking to only fantasy and SciFi the various authors are seasoned and upcoming writers who have staked their claim in the SciFi/Fantasy world. My favourite stories in this anthology are: Joe Abercrombie's “Some Desperado” (when chasing a 'cow girl' the danger is immanent), Megan Lindholm's “Neighbors” (danger lurks in the woman with Altzheimers), Sharon Key Penman's “A Queen in Exile” (when a queen refuses to be just a queen), Diana Gabaldon's "Virgins" (a feline take on Jamie Fraser) and George R.R. Martin's "the Blacks and the Greens" (a war prequel to the Game of Thrones). However there are many more that is probably just as good.
This anthology is like a full box of chocolates, the novellas and short stories might not all be to your taste... but they are delicious and worthwhile to listen too.
I don't think that you can go wrong. In "Dangerous Women" the adjective 'dangerous' is explored in depth. Almost every time you are challenged by the idea of what could be dangerous in a woman.
I really enjoyed it. It is one of a very few anthologies where you cannot go wrong. It is especially worth your while if you are seeking for new authors to listen too. It comes highly recommended!
I don't know CS Friedman's work at all. Yet, for some or other reason I enjoyed 'Dominion.' I think it has to do with the concepts that she plays with. I haven't come across the idea of fae being an impersonal substance that can mould and shape things to its nature. For me this concept is quite original.
I have therefore been successfully lured into the Dominion trap. I have bought the first book of the Coldfire Trilogy to find out how the undead sorcerer Gerald Tarrant or his descendants will make it on a planet called Erna. The story rings gothic and vampires seem to be vampires, not rehabilitated citizens of the world.
I didn't think that RC Bray's performance was dull or bad. I thought it appropriate to the type of story told.
If you need a no-brainer gothic thriller to pass the time, this might just be the book for you. I don't know how it fits in with the Coldfire Trilogy. I do suspect that with this writer you might find some originality that is often, sadly to say, absent in a lot of fantasy these days.
Vivian Vande Velde begins with a pithy critical assessment of the traditional Red Riding Hood story as known through the Brothers Grimm. She then re-imagines the story focussing on each character in the traditional story, thus telling and re-telling the story in various short stories. I think the idea is brilliant.
So why not give her 5 out of 5? Well, when it comes to collections of short stories, you always get better stories and lesser stories. This collection is no exception. Generally I enjoyed it... I can especially recommend the last story about the smart cloak, but there were a few very dull stories. Furthermore I expected the writer to understand the traditional Red Riding Hood story within its context. There is hidden eroticism, the idea of coming of age, chastity etc. that hides behind some of the elements in the story, at least that is what many scholars agree on. Where are those elements? It seems that Vivian Vande Velde missed them completely. Red Riding Hood is mostly a silly spoiled brat in her.
That said, Vande Velde came up with a few excellent tongue in the cheek moments filled with good humour. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see the story in a different light and is in search for light reading.
I think Laural Merlington does a splendid job in reading the audio book. If you just want to relax and not think too much or need something to kill the time, this book might just be for you.
It has happened more than once that I had to consider either buying the ‘Audible’ audio version of a ‘Great Courses’ course or the downloadable video version of the same course. What was I thinking not buying this a course on writing in video format with an accompanying .pdf guide!? The content of Prof Marc Zender’s ‘Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity’ is so gripping, it left me spellbound. (That said, I do have a thorough background in Semitic and Classical Languages… but he was able to broaden my understanding of writing systems.)
He takes the listener through a journey of writing signs and systems in 24 lectures which are intricately connected and completely mesmerising! I think this course is probably one of the best structured courses I have listened yet. Starting with the basic concept of writing, dispelling myths surrounding Futhark (the runic alphabet), he proceeds to more difficult scripts such as that of the Chinese. Subsequently the listener is introduced to the decipherment of different ancient writing systems, such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, Cuneiform and later on Mayan hieroglyphs. By comparing the properties of different systems of writing, he is able to illustrate some fascinating universal aspects of writing. (He convincingly argues and illustrates that writing systems were invented at different times in different places, but also that some peoples borrowed their writings from others.) Prof Zender discusses failed attempts of decipherment, the reasons thereto, as wells as invented scripts and languages such as those of JRR Tolkien.
This course is a highly accessible as well as an excellent overview of writing over the ages. It is presented professionally. Yet I refrain from giving it 5 stars under ‘story’ and overall because not being able to see the examples that Prof Zender used, kept me an outsider to complete insights. While I do understand that Audible does not provide the accompanying .pdf guide to any of ‘The Great Courses’ not being able to follow the Mayan or Egyptian hieroglyphic examples in the course felt utterly frustrating. I believe that a shortened .pdf file without all the contents of the regular guide could be made available to give the listener the best value for his/her money.
All said, ‘Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity’ is a brilliant course, splendidly arranged, highly engaging, well presented and highly relevant for anyone interested in languages and its writing systems.
Report Inappropriate Content