Well, a few months ago, I made a list of books I said I was going to read through this Summer and/or finish. Can you believe I finished all of it? Actually, not only did I finish all of it, but a few other books can be added to that list as well.
The following are additional books I also finished. I read through Pseudo-Dionysius’s Divine Names and Mystical Theology. This one was a fairly light read but nevertheless thrilling. Also, I was kind of interested in expanding my knowledge of classical theism. One finds in this book that the basis of what is criticised by many modernist Evangelical theologians is actually strictly based in the scriptures. Was Pseudo-Dionysius a Platonist? If he was, he never cited Plato. His teachings have become influential in both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology.
The next book I was able to read through was The Life of the Virgin by St Maximus the Confessor. This is officially the start of my collection of Marian biographies. To this list, I have added volume 1 of the Bl Mary of Agreda’s Mystical City of God. This is actually also my first encounter with the writings of St Maximus the Confessor and it is not a work that is easy to find in English. Thanks to Stephen J. Shoemaker it is! The Greek translation is gone but a Georgian monk was able to preserve it somewhere around the 9th-10th century A.D. and it the monk preferred to use it in the divine liturgies as well.
Then I also added to my reading a list a book I had first encountered as an undergraduate in a study of Judaism and the origins of Christianity. This book is Daniel Boyarin’s Border Lines. Boyarin approaches the issue as a religious sociologist so if one is not caught up in terms of religious sociology, one is going to be lost reading it. It by no means is a theological work despite the fact he frames the separation in terms of the creation of theologies that became orthodoxies and heresies to both the religions. In addition, he approaches the question as to how accurate it is to think of Judaism as a religion as it has often been framed from the Christian mindset. He writes from a Jewish perspective of the issue as he himself is an Orthodox Jew.
I also was able to read Julius Caesar’s The Gallic War. This gave me a sneak-peek as to what to expect in my upcoming Latin class this semester as we will be working a lot on translating this work of Caesar’s. It was a bit of a difficult read especially since Caesar so oddly refers to himself in the third person a lot. “Caesar did this.” “Caesar did that.” I was perplexed as to how it came to be attributed that Caesar wrote this. But it will be interesting to see how my own translation of the texts this coming semester of Latin will compare to the Oxord’s Classics edition.
Finally, I read through the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena. Other than St Maximus the Confessor’s 7th century hagiography of the Virgin, this is actually the only other medieval spiritual text I read. I love reading the Catholic mystical theology especially in the middle ages because it is so rich. I would count St Hildegard except I read the Scivias kind of before the reading list started. It just ended up on the reading list as something I read prior to beginning it. I have of course, on my wishlist right now, St Bonaventura, St Bernard of Clairvaux, and St Bridget of Sweden.
I also have started another book which I hope to be through by next week. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I’m not too thrilled with the characters right now. They are quite bland. Maybe they’ll get better as I progress through the book but I suppose I just like romance and spiritual literature. Perhaps after this, I might try some Jane Austen as a couple of books I have on my wishlist of hers are from a critical series I’m wanting to look into called the Ignatius Critical Series of Ignatius Press. I might go back to more Tolstoy and Dostoevsky as well. Nothing can beat the Russians and their character developments. War and Peace was littered with so many good characters. Characters you could absolutely hate, characters you could absolutely love, and characters that were so complex, you had no idea what to think or predict about them.
Of course, my favorite things I like reading right now–literature, mystical and ascetical theology, the New Testament, and history. I’ll probably be back into reading multiple books at once as well.