I received an e-mail from Barnes and Noble with a 20% off one item offer, good through the end of today (Sunday, August 18, 2013 for anyone who may stumble across this in the future). Now ordinarily a 20% off deal isn’t enough for me to pull out the credit card. But as I’ve been reading ancient Christianity sources I keep finding myself wanting to pick up a modern book or two on a particular author, mainly as a check on myself to make sure I’m not completely misreading what the source material says. 1 As an example of this, as I began reading Clement of Alexandria I picked up Clement of Alexandria by Eric Osborn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2005). ISBN: 978-0-521-09081-0.
As I’m coming to the third-century I thought this offer would be a good chance to pick up something I’m pretty sure I’ll want when reading those authors, all while saving a few bucks. Makes sense, right? So I started working through my wishlisted Christianity books on Library Thing to see what I should order.
I came up with two books:
Allen Brent, Cyprian and Roman Carthage, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2010). ISBN: 978-0-521-51547-4 and
Peter Martens, Origen and Scripture: The Contours of the Exegetical Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2012). ISBN: 978-0-199-63955-7
However, in the same category in Library Thing was; Anthony Briggman, Irenaeus of Lyons and the Theology of the Holy Spirit, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2012). ISBN: 978-0-199-64153-6
When I’m looking for information on books I typically go to Amazon. I’m familiar with how their book pages are laid out and it gives me the information I want for the spreadsheet I keep where I list the books I own and those I want (this is my backup to Library Thing). Whenever possible, I buy books from someone else. I don’t have an Amazon boycott or anything but I’ve had some negative experiences with them and am not completely thrilled with some of the labor practices they’ve adopted as they’ve transitioned from a small virtual bookseller to the online version of WalMart. If I can find a book for close to the same price elsewhere, I buy from elsewhere.
Anyway, the Martens book was around $100 at Amazon (unless I want to rent it, WTF is that about? is Amazon trying to compete with libraries or end Inter-Library Loans?). It was higher at B&N so that went off the list. However Brent was under $70 so with 20% off it’s reasonable. Except at B&N it’s also at about 100. Briggman was a bit under 80 at Amazon but around $120 at B&N.
That ended my use of the 20% off. (I also checked publisher prices BTW). You’d think this meant I didn’t buy something, right? Well, you only think that if you don’t know me very well. By this time I was infected as visions of a shiny new book on a topic I’m interested in were running through my head. The addiction had kicked in; I needed my fix.
My opposition to Amazon isn’t on the same scale as, say, Nike due to their labor practices. So it came down to a choice between Briggman and Brent from Amazon. I’ve complained rather frequently that if I do what I want to do which is really dive into early Christianity (I’ve now been reading on it for 20 months so I’m beginning to question my use of “really dive into”) I’ll never get back to the 4th-6th centuries. This means leaving my knowledge level below my inclinations. I’ve already read Irenaeus and bought one modern book about him. And I’ve started my Irenaeus posts on this blog. So I should buy a book on Cyprian, right? Wrong.
Subsequent posts on Irenaeus will have to wait until I finish Briggman, despite my being over a thousand words into one. The interesting thing is that Irenaeus’ theology related to the nature of God and Christ wasn’t one of the major points I was going to be talking about. I was going to mention it as he writes in Trinitarian terms and explicitly states that Christ was begotten which indicates a progression from Justin Martyr, however his thinking is not yet refined to that displayed during the Nicaean-Arian conflict of the Fourth Century. But I expect Briggman will discuss more than just this.
Instead I’ll be following with some interesting issues discussed by Christian writers from the first and second centuries. I suspect some of these continued into the 3rd and even the early fourth but I’d hate to not post for another month while I finish this book. And there are a couple of interesting things in Clement of Alexandria which I think would make good posts.
When I started this whole Christianity thing I had a plan. I seem to be having trouble keeping to it. There’s just way too much interesting stuff to look into. At some point I need to quit complaining about this though. I think it’s just my nature.
1 As I’ve stated before, a huge weakness for me is that I don’t read Greek or Latin, though I am capable enough in the latter to parse through it and determine if a translation means what the English version says. However the Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers Series’ I’m using are a) old (though generally considered OK despite being written in Victorian English) and b) not accompanied by the Latin or Greek originals. So reading modern books, among other things, is a way to make sure that what I’m seeing in a translated source isn’t due to a misinterpretation/mistranslation. To date this has happened occasionally though not related to what I’d consider a major issue.