It was a good year for Adventist authors. An Adventist nutritionist won a prestigious “Best in the World” award for her cookbook and another author saw his books banned by a conference president (and sales subsequently rise). Still other authors wrote on subjects as diverse as American history, philosophy, biblical commentary, Martin Luther, evolution, and emotions. Here we round up 17 books that were published in 2017.
William G. Johnsson, retired long-time editor of Adventist Review, penned the title that arguably got the most buzz this year. In Where Are We Headed? Johnsson discussed the aftermath of the July 8, 2015 vote on women’s ordination at the General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas. He described it as “a truly sad day for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I am ashamed of what transpired.”
See: Book Review: Where Are We Headed? Adventism after San Antonio Six Young Scholars Review William Johnsson’s Book “Where Are We Headed? Adventism After San Antonio” William G. Johnsson Explains Why He Wrote Where Are We Headed? Adventism after San Antonio Roy Branson Legacy Sabbath School Class Responds to Johnsson’s Book
It was a big year for prolific author and theologian George R. Knight. In addition to writing two of the church’s official Sabbath School quarterly companions used this year (on Romans and Galatians), he also caused a stir with a paper he presented at the London Unity Conference. His “9.5. Theses” — presented at the end of the paper — went viral and led to Michigan Conference President Jay Gallimore banning all of Knight’s books from the three Michigan Adventist Book Center locations. Amidst the kerfuffle, Knight released his book Adventist Authority Wars, which seems to be doing quite well despite the ban.
See: Book Review: George Knight’s Reformation Tract George Knight Talks About Trying to Slow Ted Wilson's Crusade Catholic or Adventist: The Ongoing Struggle Over Authority + 9.5 Theses Michigan Conference Bans George Knight’s Books from Its ABC Stores
Spectrum’s Summer Reading Group selection for 2017, Humanism and the Death of God asks, “Can we have a rationally coherent, morally compelling, and historically sustainable discourse, as well as practice, of humanistic values and human rights without a ‘thick’ metaphysical or religious framework?” To answer this question, Osborn engages with the writings of prominent religious critics including Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Ellen G. White’s much-loved and shared classic received an elegant, annotated update this year thanks to Denis Fortin, former dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University. Fortin’s meticulous work, which provides historical and theological context to White’s book through annotations and chapter introductions, is showcased in this 125th anniversary edition that features cloth-covered binding with foil stamping and gilded edging.
Prominent author Sigve Tonstad’s latest book was written for the Earth Bible Commentary series from Sheffield Phoenix Press. In a review for Spectrum, John Brunt described Letter to the Romans as “a magisterial work on the entire letter that not only embraces virtually all the issues in Pauline studies but also enters into fruitful dialogue with most of the major interpreters of Romans in both the past and the present. No one who is serious about the study of Romans can ignore this commentary.”
Walla Walla University theology professor Paul Dybdahl believes that studying about other faiths can challenge, refresh, and bless, and says his book Before We Call Them Strangers was inspired by his theology students. This was Dybdahl’s first book and over the summer he chatted with Spectrum interviews editor Alita Byrd about his inspiration, process, and the reaction to his work.
Rolando Rizzo, an Italian pastor turned novelist, published his fourth novel this year through the Italian Adventist publishing house ADV. In an interview with Spectrum, the author told readers his latest work “follows a loved, respected, and happy Adventist family. There is a dad, a mum, and two young people who are very close to each other. All of a sudden, one of the kids disappears. The parents get a good private detective to search for their son. The search reveals a reality that they would have never imagined.”
Southern Adventist University professor Jud Lake’s second book tells the story of the American Civil War from the unique perspective of Ellen G. White's visions. Discussing the book with Spectrum editor Alita Byrd, Lake said, “When I finished my first book, Ellen White Under Fire…the sesquicentennial celebration of the American Civil War commenced (2011-2015), and I puzzled that there was no major publication on Ellen White’s contribution to Civil War literature. With White’s war essays on my mind, I attended the 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 2011, and was fascinated. After a couple of years reading on the war, I began intensive research and writing in 2013 and finished [A Nation in God’s Hands] four years later.”
Marian de Berg is an administrative assistant at the Ellen G. White/Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre at Avondale College of Higher Education, where she has served for two decades. She also leads tours and trains volunteers at Ellen G. White’s Australian home, “Sunnyside.” With encouragement from her boss, Dr. John Skrzypaszek, she set out to tell the story of Ellen White’s time in Australia. Drawing from primary source material, including the personal correspondence, manuscripts, and other materials that Ellen White wrote during this nine-year period, de Berg paints a robust portrait of the beginnings of Adventism in Australia and White’s direct role in building a thriving Adventist community, complete with numerous churches, schools, and sanitariums.
“Your emotions are made in God’s image,” states author and Spectrum contributor Marc Alan Schelske at the beginning of his new book. In The Wisdom of Your Heart, Schelske takes the reader down his own road of discovery that emotions are a God-given source of guidance that can be used to deeper our understanding of self, others, and God. Raised Seventh-day Adventist, Schelske describes how his upbringing taught him to view emotions as untrustworthy and even sinful. In his book, he offers readers an opportunity to view emotions in a new light.
Longing for God was released in November 2017 by Pacific Press. Dale Galusha, president of the Adventist publishing house, recently discussed the journey of publication for Hasel’s book, saying “at the General Conference Annual Council meeting in October 2016, several people told me that Nancy Wilson, wife of Elder Ted Wilson, needed to talk with me right away. Later that day, we met in the foyer of the General Conference building, and she excitedly told me about a book that needed to be translated from German to English. She told me that it would be a powerful book in English. She was right. The result of that conversation is Longing for God by Dr. Frank Hasel, associate director of the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference. This powerful prayer journal is filled with spiritual insights as well as practical ideas for making your prayer life more fulfilling and drawing you closer to God.”
Jerry Gladson arrived at Southern Adventist University in the fall of 1972. He had just started a doctoral program in Old Testament studies at Vanderbilt University, and enjoyed sharing with his students what he was learning, encouraging them to think about things from multiple perspectives, with a goal of understanding what biblical texts actually said. Soon, Gladson found himself “caught up in the maelstrom of [the] church's greatest theological crisis. For him, the denomination's theology and practice agonizingly unravel[ed], forcing him to choose between loyalty to his church, his vocation, and his personal integrity,” state the publisher’s description. Gladson’s former student, Aage Rendalen, recently interviewed Gladson for Spectrum about his personal and poignant memoir.
This year marked the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, and a number of new books commemorated the important milestone. One was Nick Miller’s 500 Years of Protest and Liberty, published by Pacific Press. According to the publisher’s blurb, this new title “traces a direct line from Martin Luther’s powerful ideas about the equality of persons before God to more current debates about equal opportunity and the fundamental rights of humanity. Along the way, it asks tough questions about where the protestant church is headed today. Most important, 500 Years of Protest and Liberty is a reminder that Martin Luther’s powerful ideas, which shaped our thinking as Christians today, call us back to the fundamental principles of our Christianity.”
In this title, editors Campbell and Satelmajer have compiled writings from 25 scholars who compare and contrast Luther and Adventist theology. The book was published by Pacific Press which says this about the work: “Although separated in time by centuries, Seventh-day Adventists see themselves as heirs of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther 500 years ago. This volume explores the various facets and contours of Luther and compares them with Seventh-day Adventism.”
Clifford Goldstein, editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, hopes his latest title will “free believers from the knee-jerk reaction that the only logical and rational response to the phrase ‘But it’s science!’ is to surrender one’s beliefs, even religious ones, to it,” according to the publisher’s blurb for Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity.
Professor of Hebrew Bible & Ancient Near Eastern Languages at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University, Roy Gane is considered a leading expert in biblical law. In his latest book, Gane “explicates the often confusing legal system of ancient Israel, differentiates between time-bound cultural aspects of Israelite law and universally applicable aspects of the divine value system, and shows the ethical relevance of Old Testament law for Christians today,” according the publisher Baker Academic.
Published by Adventist Forum, God, Land, and the Great Flood is a follow up to Bull and Guy’s God, Sky & Land. Lawrence T. Geraty, President Emeritus at La Sierra University, had this to say about the book: “Guy and Bull have done it again — translating the Flood Story the way it would have been understood by its original hearers! What a novel approach: using time, place, and circumstance to understand the message of the Bible.”
Though published in the fall of 2016, Sue Radd’s award-winning cookbook deserves an honorable mention this year. During the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, held in Yantai, China, May 26-29, 2017, Radd’s book was named “Best in the World” and awarded the Best “Health and Nutrition” Cookbook in the world for 2016. In a recent interview with Spectrum, Radd discussed her book and the big win in more depth. “More than 10,000 cookbooks altogether were entered, from more than 205 countries. At the 2017 award ceremony in China, more than 600 people representing 52 countries attended. These worldwide awards have been held annually for the last 22 years and are run by the family that runs Le Cordon Bleu cooking schools.”
What was a favorite book you read this year, whether published in 2017 or before? Tell us in the comments below. And, if you appreciate the book reviews and author interviews we do throughout the year, please consider giving to support Spectrum. As a non-profit news organization, every gift — big or small — makes a difference. Thank you and Happy New Year!
Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
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