Monday, November 23, 2015

The Oxford History of the Biblical World

The Oxford History of the Biblical World
edited by Michael D. Coogan

In this impressive volume, leading scholars offer compelling glimpses into the biblical world, the world in which prophets, poets, sages, and historians created one of our most important texts--the Bible.
For more than a century, archaeologists have been unearthing the tombs, temples, texts, and artifacts of the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean world. Using new approaches, contemporary scholars have begun to synthesize this material with the biblical traditions. The Oxford History of the Biblical World incorporates the best of this scholarship, and in chronologically ordered chapters presents the reader with a readable and integrated study of the history, art, architecture, languages, literatures, and religion of biblical Israel and early Judaism and Christianity in their larger cultural contexts. The authors also examine such issues as the roles of women, the tensions between urban and rural settings, royal and kinship social structures, and official and popular religions of the region.

Understanding the biblical world is a vital part of understanding the Bible. Broad, authoritative, and engaging, The Oxford History of the Biblical World will illuminate for any reader the ancient world from which the Bible emerged.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


by Stephen King

While riding home from work with his friend Dennis, nerdy teen Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham spots a dilapidated red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury parked in front of a house. Arnie makes Dennis stop so he can examine the car, despite Dennis' attempts to talk Arnie out of it. The car's owner, Roland D. LeBay, an elderly gentleman wearing a back supporter, sells the car—named "Christine"—to Arnie for $250. While waiting for Arnie to finish the paperwork, Dennis sits inside Christine. He has a vision of the car and the surroundings as they were 20 years ago, when the car was new. Frightened, Dennis gets out of Christine, deciding he dislikes Arnie's new car.

Arnie brings Christine to a do-it-yourself auto repair facility run by Will Darnell, who is suspected of using the garage as a front for illicit operations. As Arnie restores the automobile he becomes withdrawn, humorless and cynical, yet more confident and self-assured. Dennis is puzzled by the changes in both his friend and Christine; the repair work proceeds haphazardly and the more extensive repairs do not appear to be done by Arnie. Arnie's appearance improves in tandem with Christine's. When LeBay dies, Dennis meets his younger brother, George, who reveals Roland's history of violent behavior. George also reveals that LeBay's small daughter choked to death on a hamburger in the back seat of the car, LeBay's wife was so traumatized that she apparently committed suicide in its front seat by carbon monoxide poisoning. As time passes, Dennis observes that Arnie is taking on many of LeBay's personality traits. He also notices that Arnie has become close to Darnell, even acting as a courier in Darnell's interstate smuggling operations.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Shadow Divers

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
by Robert Kurson

In the tradition of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm comes a true tale of riveting adventure in which two weekend scuba divers risk everything to solve a great historical mystery–and make history themselves.

For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.
But in the fall of 1991, not even these courageous divers were prepared for what they found 230 feet below the surface, in the frigid Atlantic waters sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey: a World War II German U-boat, its ruined interior a macabre wasteland of twisted metal, tangled wires, and human bones–all buried under decades of accumulated sediment.
No identifying marks were visible on the submarine or the few artifacts brought to the surface. No historian, expert, or government had a clue as to which U-boat the men had found. In fact, the official records all agreed that there simply could not be a sunken U-boat and crew at that location.

Over the next six years, an elite team of divers embarked on a quest to solve the mystery. Some of them would not live to see its end. Chatterton and Kohler, at first bitter rivals, would be drawn into a friendship that deepened to an almost mystical sense of brotherhood with each other and with the drowned U-boat sailors–former enemies of their country. As the men’s marriages frayed under the pressure of a shared obsession, their dives grew more daring, and each realized that he was hunting more than the identities of a lost U-boat and its nameless crew.

Author Robert Kurson’s account of this quest is at once thrilling and emotionally complex, and it is written with a vivid sense of what divers actually experience when they meet the dangers of the ocean’s underworld. The story of Shadow Divers often seems too amazing to be true, but it all happened, two hundred thirty feet down, in the deep blue sea.