Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The March on Washington Fifty Years Later

March on Washington, 28 August 1963
(Image in Public Domain, courtesy of the National Archives)

Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant events of 20th century America, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where upwards of 300,000 people, more than three-quarters of whom were African Americans, gathered for what must, in retrospect, be judged to be the signature event of the Civil Rights Movement. Today this event is known primarily as the occasion when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, the thrilling rhetoric and moral power of which still resonates to this day (for the text of his speech and my ruminations on it, see my post here).

The event is justly famous. But what has been its lasting impact? What lasting change, if any, did it actually effect? I ask these questions in the realization that some progress has been made. After all, when my dad and mom moved from North Jersey to Dallas in 1950 to attend seminary, the Texas city still had "colored-only" water fountains and rest rooms. Northern cities like the beloved Philadelphia of my youth were de facto segregated due to mass white flight out of the inner city industrial neighborhoods to newly-developed areas of the city's Great Northeast and the lily-white, wealthy suburbs. The triple whammy of white flight, post-World War II deindustrialization, and redlining conspired to make life miserable and devoid of hope for the hundreds of thousands of African Americans who just decades before had migrated to the city from the Jim Crow South to work in the thousands of factories in what was then the "Workshop of America." Even the media—dismissed as hopelessly "liberal" by the right-wing masses—could hardly mask their contempt for Dr. King's cause, as may be seen in the August 25, 1963 edition of Meet the Press, recorded just three days before the famous march.

Thankfully such overt discrimination and prejudice are legally disallowed and societally frowned upon in today's America. Just ask Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who was caught on videotape using the "n-word" at a Kenny Chesney concert in Camden, New Jersey on 31 July. While fined for his vile utterance, at least he kept his job, which is more than can be said about former Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas, who was fired from his position at ESPN when, a mere fortnight later, he used the same expression at an Orlando nightclub. Use of racially-offensive epithets is clearly, and rightly, unacceptable in America today.

Yet the problem persists. Joblessness, poverty, and incarceration still plague the black community. Moreover, large numbers of America's majority whites still haven't got with the program. While explicitly racist speech is strongly condemned in the public square, the anonymity provided by the internet encourages cowardly racists to spew their ignorant vitriol in the comments to numerous articles on, which I read every day to remind myself, if such were needed, of inveterate human sinfulness. And, sad to say, Riley Cooper is unique only in the sense that he was caught in using hateful speech. Indeed, only a month earlier a man named Darren Walp of Ridley Park, PA was arrested after shouting racial epithets and waving a Confederate battle flag after scaling the fence of an adjacent apartment complex during a Toby Keith concert in Camden. [Is it mere coincidence that both these incidents occurred in the context of a country music concert? One wonders. And the mere sight of a displayed Confederate flag, particularly in the north, always gets my dander up.] 

One must conclude that Dr. King's dream, fueled in part by the glorious vision of the Hebrew prophets, remains only partially fulfilled. And that is to be expected. Dr. King, after all, used the glorious words of Isaiah 40 ("Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.") to describe his dream and the famous exhortation of Amos ("we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.") to give specific content to it. As I have often emphasized, the New Testament consistently presents what has been described as "inaugurated eschatology." Yes, the Christ event brought with it an initial fulfillment of the covenant promises of the Old Testament. But their complete realization, and the ultimate transformation of both humanity and creation itself awaits the consummation of the kingdom subsequent to Jesus' triumphant return. In the meantime, humanity remains fatally flawed by virtue of the sin which resides in each of us [Indeed, as I often say, "total depravity" is the only empirically demonstrable "Calvinistic" doctrine.] In the meantime, it is incumbent on us who name the name of Christ to work to embody and promote (with love!) the priorities and perspectives of the kingdom until he comes, in the sure hope that at that time justice will run down like waters and all peoples will join together in praise of the one who loved them and gave himself for them.

I leave you with two videos: first, Dr. King's stirring speech itself (which really must be watched and heard to experience its power), and second, the performances by one of my musical heroes, Bob Dylan, at the march.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Are Evangelicalism and Rigorous Scholarship Mutually Exclusive (Part 1)?

Over the past couple of weeks I have been trying to catch up on some blog reading while working an inconvenient shift disadvantageous to writing or sustained thinking. This weekend I ran across a post written in July by Pete Enns entitled "James Barr on Evangelical Biblical Scholarship." Barr, of course, was a famous Old Testament scholar and linguist from Scotland, whose first major work, The Semantics of Biblical Language, published in 1961, has influenced generations of biblical scholars with its devastating expose of the manifold linguistic fallacies that served as the stock-in-trade for many a minister or Bible teacher. In his later academic career he served as the replacement Doctor-father of my own friend and teacher, Buist Fanning, at Oxford after the untimely demise of G. B. Caird. Barr also was no friend of fundamentalism ... or of an evangelicalism which, despite its smoothing of fundamentalism's hard edges, he nevertheless saw as a kindlier, more learned variant of the same thing.

I first came across the second edition of Barr's famous Fundamentalism (1981) in the early years of my own graduate theological education at a very conservative American seminary. At the time I was taken aback by what I considered the stridency of his views. Over the years, however, I have come to see insight in many of his accusations—evangelical "gains" in scholarly quality balanced by an intensification of (neo-) fundamentalist obscurantism, the prevalence of academic witch hunts in evangelical schools, undue influence of pseudo-intellectual gurus, an undifferentiated emphasis on the role of presuppositions, an unseemly predilection for playing power games—despite his penchant for what I view as uncharitable over-generalization in those very accusations.

For his part, Enns's post contributes to a prominent thread in his Patheos blog, one with obvious ties to his own experience of banishment from a very conservative and confessional seminary. Representative of these is his post from 3 January of this year, entitled "Can Evangelical Colleges and Seminaries Be Truly Academic Institutions?" There Enns asks a trenchant question: "Can an institution claim to be fundamentally academic while at the same time centered on defending certain positions that are largely, if not wholly, out of sync with generations of academic discourse outside of evangelical boundaries? (emphasis his)" Later he asks another question whose applicability to many an "evangelical" institution with which I have been associated is transparently a propos: "At what point, if ever, would it show more integrity for a school to say the following: “Our center of gravity is not academic integrity or engagement but the defense of our theology by either mining the academic discourse of biblical scholarship where useful or condemning it where harmful. We do not see ourselves as primarily an academic body but an ecclesial one.” Should such institutions publicly acknowledge that they are centers of theological apologetics and therefore not places of academic training? (emphasis his).

The problems, as I see them, are basically two, and are interrelated. First, how can an evangelical scholar or institution committed to biblical "inerrancy" and/or an ecclesial confession claim to operate within an environment committed to free inquiry (i.e., the fundamental environmental condition of academic investigation)? Do not such prior commitments make any supposed "academic" or "scholarly" investigations suspect in that they greatly delimit the potential results of the given inquiries? How is one to suppose the conclusions of such scholars are not motivated more by prior religious commitments than they are to the preponderance of the relevant evidence?

Second, are the "presuppositions" of evangelical and non-evangelical scholars both to be granted equal legitimacy? In other words, are the "unorthodox" conclusions of many non-evangelicals due simply to the problematic assumptions they bring to the inquiry a priori? Are all presuppositions to be granted equal respect, or must the scholar provide at least some methodological ground for those he or she brings to the table? This is an issue brought forward by another thoughtful post published earlier this month by Joseph Kelly entitled "Is Evangelical Scholarship Academically Rigorous?" To Kelly, evangelical scholars too often play the presupposition trump card when they should rather have applied more methodological rigor to their investigations. No doubt he is right on that score.

All who know me—indeed, all who simply read the "about me" on my blog—know that I am committed both to a theological and a critical interpretative approach to Scripture. Yet I am acutely and existentially aware of the difficulties associated with this dual task, not least for professional scholars whose scholarly views lead to conflict and ultimate severance of relationship with the conservative institutions who employed them. My answer to the question I posed in this post's title is a qualified "yes." But, as I hope to show, the matter is not a simple one. Presuppositions, personal temperaments, and professional ambitions all play a role in the matter and muddy the waters considerably. No one—not conservatives or "evangelicals," not "liberals" or "progressives"—are immune from these factors and pressures, and thus none can really claim the moral high ground on the subject.

What do you think about this? Can evangelicals legitimately claim to do rigorous academic scholarship?

Friday, August 23, 2013

James D. G. Dunn on the New Testament and Infant Baptism

Over the past few months The Gospel Coalition has published a few posts on the subject of "Why I Changed My Mind about Infant Baptism." Two such posts have been written by prominent PCA pastors Sean Michael Lucas (First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi) and Liam Goligher (Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia), both of whom were nurtured in the faith in credo-baptist circles in America and Scotland, respectively.

Not surprisingly, what ultimately precipitated their change of mind was a discovery of the doctrines of grace, which led to a reconsideration of other elements of classic Reformed theology. Goligher indeed found the ultimate basis of paedo-baptism in the so-called covenant of grace, the organizing principle of the classic Reformed theology of his native Scotland and the Presbyterian churches emanating from it [On a side note, he contrasts this with the classic dispensationalism in which he was reared, but—as is all too common with Reformed writers—he badly misrepresents what that system believes about salvation through the ages. Considering that Charles Ryrie's Dispensationalism Today[i] was published in 1965, such misrepresentation really is inexcusable. And I write this as one who, though raised in that classic dispensationalism, no longer hold to its distinctives.] Interestingly, both Lucas and Goligher were led to reconsider their previous views about baptism after being influenced strongly by the system of Reformed theology to which they had been attracted by their graduate studies in theology, not as a result of biblical exegesis per se.

As a soteriological Calvinist reared in classic dispensationalism, I understand the pull Reformed theology exerts acutely. Baptists, at least here in America, are all too often characterized by "easy believism," anti-intellectualism, and a stifling legalism that measures piety at least partly by the avoidance of trivial external "worldly" behaviors. Even worse, so-called "Bible Churches," "Community Churches," and—worse still—megachurches which adhere to credo-baptism have all too often substituted historic Christian worship for the mess of pottage provided by "contemporary" entertainment-based services. Reformed theology harks back behind the contemporary Zeitgeist or fundamentalism's 19th-century ethos to the 16th and 17th centuries, ultimately finding its origins in the thought of perhaps the most learned and intelligent thinker God has given his church, the great Calvin himself. When one adds to this the fact that a growing number of Reformed theologians are vociferously protesting the use of the "Reformed" label by credo-baptist Calvinists like John Piper and the "Young, Restless, and Reformed" crowd, one understands immediately the tendency of many young Calvinists to take the metaphorical plunge into the advocacy of paedo-baptism.

Nevertheless ... I am a New Testament student by training. I am very wary of, and hence not beholden to, theological systems, no matter how venerable or apparently intellectually rigorous (Indeed, I find it hard to imagine how anyone could make the outrageous claim that any pre-critical confession, no matter how well-thought out, could possibly contain “the system of doctrine taught in scripture” and thereby command complete assent). What matters to me, as it should to any Christian, is what the Bible, in this case the New Testament, teaches on a given subject. To put it differently, what is needed is a reaffirmation of the classic Protestant principle of sola scriptura—the notion that Scripture, properly and historically interpreted, must be allowed to trump tradition. And it is here, in my measured opinion, that the case for infant baptism falters badly. Indeed, there are no clear examples of prescribed or practiced paedo-baptism in the New Testament. Texts like 1 Corinthians 7:14 are simply too insubstantial and ambiguous to bear the weight preachers like Lucas and Goligher place on them. Indeed, the fact that St. Paul here writes that the unbelieving spouse is rendered “sanctified” (hēgiastai) by his or her union with a believer renders it highly unlikely that he intends an oblique reference to baptism when he describes the offspring of such unions as “holy” (hagia). Moreover, the use of Acts 2:39 as warrant for infant baptism (“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call”) simply boggles the mind. Are all who are “far off” likewise to be baptized on the off chance that they will be recipients of the effectual call? At best the biblical arguments proffered by supporters of the “covenant” baptism of children suggest infant baptism as a possible, though unstated, implication of the texts in question. But that possibility diminishes significantly when one considers what the New Testament actually says explicitly concerning the significance of Christian baptism in such texts as Romans 6.[ii] Simply put, it is transparent that other factors are involved in the switch to a paedo-baptist position than the exegesis of holy Scripture.[iii]

Some thirty years ago I read an early work by the current doyen of British New Testament scholars, the moderately evangelical James D. G. Dunn, entitled Unity and Diversity in the New Testament.[iv] Professor Dunn was raised as a Scots Presbyterian, and today is a member of the Methodist Church of Great Britain. So he has no credo-baptist axe to grind on the matter of infant baptism. Thus what he wrote on the subject all those years ago has remained imprinted on my mind as a cautionary word against adopting a position for the wrong reasons without sufficient scriptural warrant:

A few brief comments are perhaps called for on the subject of infant baptism. It is one of the standing ironies of the diversity of Christian theology and practice that the chief means of accomplishing regeneration for so many centuries has had so little foothold in the NT, and has not clearly been encompassed even within the wide-ranging diversity of first-century Christian practice. For it has to be recognized that infant baptism can find no real support in the theology of baptism which any NT writer can be shown to espouse. And the more we recognize that a primary function of baptism throughout the first decades of Christianity was to serve as a means of expressing the initiate’s faith and commitment, the less justified in terms of Christian beginnings would the practice of infant baptism appear to be. The strongest support from within the NT period would probably come from the Corinthians …, but that is not a precedent many would want to argue from.
A more circuitous justification can be attempted with greater promise through the concept of family solidarity—that the child of a believing parent by virtue of that fact stands within the circle of (the parent’s) faith (1 Cor. 7.14). And no one would want to deny that Jesus blessed infants during his ministry (Mark 10.13-16). The real question is whether Christian baptism is the appropriate expression of this status within the family of faith, or whether baptism is the means whereby the children of today are brought to Jesus and blessed by him. The household baptisms of Acts 16.15, 33, 18.8 and 1 Cor. 1.16 might provide sufficient (NT) precedent; but the case is hardly proved, since it is far from certain that the households included small children: Acts 16.15—was Lydia married? 16.34—all rejoiced in the middle of the night; 18.8—all believed; 1 Cor. 16.15—all served. The supporting argument from circumcision’s being administered to Israelite (male) infants as part of the covenant people of Yahweh depends on how one assesses the relation between the old Israel and the new: as we have seen, the new covenant equivalent of old covenant circumcision is the circumcision of the heart, the gift of the Spirit, not baptism; and membership of the new covenant is through faith in Jesus Christ, not by natural descent (see particularly Gal. 3). The weakness of the family solidarity argument then is that it explains the child’s status within the circle of faith, without necessarily justifying the further step that he/she ought therefore to be baptized—for certainly that status is not dependent on baptism, nor is the blessing of Christ. Consequently if baptism is to retain its regular significance within the NT, as the expression of the baptisand’s faith, it should probably be reserved for that time when it can serve to express the child’s own commitment, a practice which can be followed without detracting in any way from the status of the child of a believing parent within the circle of faith. In short, for all the diversity of faith and practice in first-century Christianity it remains doubtful whether it stretches so far as to include infant baptism.[v]

Professor Dunn, I believe, is right. To put it simply, the case for infant baptism in Reformed theology rests almost entirely on a theological understanding of the relationship between the old and new covenants in which their salvation-historical discontinuity is downplayed in the interest of subsuming both under the rubric of an overarching, hypothetical “covenant of grace.” Rightly understood, however, the Old and New Covenants are not structured identically. The Old Covenant was a national covenant into which boys and girls were born, with circumcision functioning as the badge of covenant identity for male children of Abraham. No one is born into membership of the New Covenant, however. Membership there, as Luke records Peter as proclaiming, is reserved to those whom God calls (Acts 2:39) and who accordingly respond in repentance, faith, and baptism (Acts 2:38). Baptism in the New Testament is not only the concrete expression of the faith that saves; it is the means provided by God to picture the union of the believer with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6)—the very union by virtue of which the believer is “justified” (Gal 2:17), constituted a member of God’s eschatological covenant people who will be acquitted at the great assize on the last day. As such baptism can be viewed as the means by which God concretely declares the justified status of the baptisand that the Spirit effected when, through the word of the gospel, he created in the believer that faith through which he or she became united with Christ. Baptism, in other words, is not a mere badge, even a theologically pregnant one, like circumcision was. But, as Dunn rightly points out, circumcision of the foreskin has as its New Covenant counterpart the circumcision of the heart (Deut 30:6; Rom 2:26-27), not baptism. Baptism, on the other hand, proclaims what has already happened to the believer who submits to it. Therein lies the inherent contradiction in evangelical practice of paedo-baptism.

[i] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody, 1965).
[ii] Despite the valiant-yet-unsuccessful effort by John Murray, Christian Baptism (Philadelphia: P&R, 1974), to argue that the significance of infant baptism must be the same as that for adult believers/converts.
[iii] One such matter is the acknowledged practice of infant baptism dating back at least to the second century. See, for example, Irenaeus, Against Heresies II.22.4; Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition 21.3-5; Origen, Commentary on Romans 5:9. Origen indeed claims the tradition of baptizing infants went back to the apostles. On the practice of paedo-baptism in the early church, see the back and forth between the Lutheran New Testament scholars Joachim Jeremias, Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2004 [1960]) (for) and Kurt Aland, Did the Early Church Baptize Infants? (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2004 [1963]) (against).
[iv] James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977).
[v] Unity and Diversity, 160-61. See also Dunn’s The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1998) 457-59.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Reza Aslan's "Zealot": Some Belated Reflections on a Book about Jesus

Nothing is bound to garner notoriety for an author more than producing a well-written, seemingly "novel" (read "unorthodox") "historical" study of the life of Jesus of Nazareth for mass consumption. Think the late Robert Funk's infamous Jesus Seminar, whose democratic voting process led to 1996's The Five Gospels, with its portayal of Jesus as a peasant Cynic poetaster adept at spinning aphorisms about the lilies of the field. Think too of Dan Brown, whose incredible historical hypotheses about Jesus formed the substrata of his 2003 murder-mystery page-turner The DaVinci Code, the popularity of which led to serious responses by such prominent evangelical scholars as Darrell Bock and Ben Witherington, who really had better things to do with their time.

The latest writer to "earn" his Warholian five minutes of fame is Reza Aslan, Associate Professor of Creative Writing (!) at UC-Riverside, whose new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, is ensconced at the top of The New York Times' Best Sellers List. The reason has less to do with the merits of his work (more on that presently) than popular response to an already-infamous interview on Fox News by host Lauren Green conducted on 26 July. The interview was a disaster for both Green and Fox. The former—where does Fox come up with such gray cell-challenged hosts, anyway?—made the fundamental error of repeatedly (!) expressing incredulity that Aslan, as a Muslim, would even desire to write a book about Jesus, more than implying that he had some ulterior motive to tackle a subject about which he could have no objectivity. Green's ineptitude simply furthered the (valid) perception that Fox's institutional Islamophobia renders the network unable to comment meaningfully on related matters. Response was immediate (see the swift take of Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed here) and almost unanimous in its sympathy for, and support of, Aslan.

For his part, Aslan played a feisty defender of both his honor and his credentials for writing his book. He repeatedly declared himself to be an "expert" and "scholar of religions" with "four degrees, including one in the New Testament and also a Ph.D. in the subject." Well, not so fast, as many, including Joe Carter, quickly countered. Aslan, it seems, pulled one over on most of the media who, not surprisingly, were unacquainted with the academic discipline in question—my discipline, as it happens. As it turns out, Aslan doesn't have a terminal degree in any of the relevant fields related to the study of the historical Jesus: Ancient History, New Testament, Ancient Judaism, or Classics. Neither has he written any peer-reviewed works in any of those fields, nor even taught any of these subjects at the undergraduate or graduate levels. His Ph.D. is in the sociology of religion, his dissertation, as Barnard College Religion Professor Elizabeth Castelli informs us, a mere 140-page work on contemporary Muslim activism. That is not to say, of course, that Aslan could not possibly write intelligently on the matter (indeed, his bibliography shows him to be fairly well-read in the field of the Quest of the Historical Jesus, though, as Anthony Le Donne has rightly remarked, much of it is of older literature, with unfortunate lacunae in many areas). It is to say, however, that Aslan has deliberately overstated his qualifications to write as a self-styled "expert" on the matter. It would have been better if he had admitted that he wrote as a non-specialist. After all, books like that are written all the time, not least by ministers and others who, like Aslan, are fluent in Koine Greek but have no legitimate claim to be scholars in the field.

More importantly, however, is the fact that Aslan's thesis, to wit, that Jesus was a "zealot" who was crucified because he wanted to overthrow the Romans violently (and thus, of course, that all the Gospels' talk about "loving one's enemies" was a later fabrication by his followers, who were further divided when St. Paul "introduced" the idea of Jesus' divinity and the like), has an absolutely zero percent chance of being true. This is something about which every reputable New Testament scholar who has responded is in agreement, both evangelical (Gary Manning, Jr.Anthony Le DonneCraig A. Evans, and especially the scathing article by John Dickson) and non-evangelical (Elizabeth CastelliSimon J. Joseph) alike. Indeed, Aslan's problems lie, not only with his central thesis, but with scores of over-generalizations and blatant historical errors to boot (see especially the exposes by Le Donne, Castelli, and Dickson on these), which no "expert" in Jesus studies would write in such numbers.

Aslan's thesis is also hardly a new or "novel" one, and so needs no substantial feat of ingenuity to refute. Indeed, for anyone who has read widely in historical Jesus studies, Aslan's thesis will recall that of Hermann Samuel Reimarus, the posthumous publications of whose Wolfenbüttel Fragments by G. E. Lessing in 1774-78 is generally regarded as the first installment of the original Quest for the Historical Jesus. More recently, S. G. F. Brandon of the University of Manchester tried to resurrect a variation/refinement of Reimarus's thesis in his 1967 work, Jesus and the Zealots. Reimarus, after all, exerted more influence in method than he did by virtue of his conclusions, which ultimately failed to satisfy almost all scholars. Not surprisingly, Brandon failed to persuade many, and his thesis was delivered a knock-out blow by a substantial article published by Ernst Bammel in 1984 ("The Revolution Theory from Reimarus to Brandon," in E. Bammel and C. F. D. Moule [eds.], Jesus and the Politics of His Day [Cambridge: CUP, 1984] 11-68). Since that day, Jesus scholarship has moved on, with the so-called "Third Quest of the Historical Jesus" dominating the discussion (apart from the more "radical" stream represented by such men as Funk, Dom Crossan, and Burton Mack). Like Aslan, scholars associated with the "Third Quest" (both Jewish and Christian, "conservative" and "liberal") insist Jesus must be understood against his Jewish background and seek, above all, to explain both the historical reasons for Jesus' crucifixion and the rise of the early church. Aslan provides a possible, though, contrary to his assertion, not a necessary or even probable, explanation for why Jesus was crucified. Where he really fails, however, is in explaining how the early church developed as it demonstrably did. Particularly egregious is his understanding of Paul and the delineation of his putative differences from the Palestinian Christians who followed Jesus before him. At best one can say that Aslan's thesis is an inelegant one.

The lesson to be gained from this is that popular audiences should be careful whom they read on matters as potentially important as the identity, message, and work of Jesus of Nazareth. Credentials matter, and the lack of such credentials is often painfully evident to those with the specialized training to notice it. For those who are interested and really want to see how genuine historical research into Jesus is done, I suggest two works: from a more conservative perspective, N. T. Wright (The University of St. Andrews), Jesus and the Victory of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 2; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996); from a less conservative standpoint, Dale C. Allison, Jr. (Princeton Theological Seminary), Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010). Neither is for the faint of heart or dull of mind, but the difference between such works and that of Aslan is immediately obvious.