Review: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor

Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor
Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor by Susan Wise Bauer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A decent introduction to ancient history of young children. I fear that the book at times asks a bit too much of the audience for which it was written (1st graders, give or take), but it can be modified a bit to fit well. It can be used on a very simple level for the 1st grade audience and then used again in 5th grade when ancient history cycles back around in a typical classical curriculum. The issue here, however, is that it seems best written for children between these two grades. It is too difficult, I think, for most 1st graders and too easy, I think, for most 5th graders, so you will find yourself having to modify your use of the book no matter which year you use it should you keep to a classical curriculum.

That (relatively important) complaint aside, the book is very well written and does a good job of hitting the major points in history that children should be familiar with. Along with the companion volume of activities, this is a wonderful addition to the library of any homeschooling parent.

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Review: Contemporary Literary Theory: A Christian Appraisal

Contemporary Literary Theory: A Christian Appraisal
Contemporary Literary Theory: A Christian Appraisal by Clarence Walhout

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book serves as a wonderful introduction to contemporary trends in literary theory for the Christian audience. The authors, leading academics in their fields, treat each school of literary criticism, ranging from deconstructionism to Marxism to feminism and more, in a fair and fascinating way. Each is first explained on its own terms and then considered from the Christian perspective; the respective authors draw from each those aspects which can be appropriately applied to the literary criticism of a Christian while critiquing those aspects that cannot be so applied. The result is a balanced and insightful work.

I recommend this book for any Christian interested in expanding their knowledge of literary theory as well as for anyone, Christian or not, interested in the historical developments in Christian literary interpretation as well as how Christians apply their theology to this field today and what their relationship is with other currents in academia.

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Review: Christ and Apollo: The Dimensions of the Literary Imagination

Christ and Apollo: The Dimensions of the Literary Imagination
Christ and Apollo: The Dimensions of the Literary Imagination by William F. Lynch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Father William F. Lynch here presents his Christological vision of literary criticism. He departs from and critiques the many modern movements in literary criticism that would reduce the reading and analysis of texts to the merely political or social and the writing of these texts to an exercise in gnosticism. Lynch instead sees the Incarnation and the Eucharist as the starting points for any Christian movements in literary theory. For him, the particular is of the utmost importance and ultimately it is through entering deep into the finite that we attain the infinite.

Lynch is often difficult to read and understand, but this is not a point on which he should be criticized. Instead, his style invites the reader to ponder over his words and to reread them again and again, gaining further insight each time, perhaps, in so doing, directly us to precisely the way Lynch believes we should read. The copious quotations from medieval sources near the end of the book are a great plus that offer insight into Lynch’s ideas and their sources.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in literary theory and the place of the Christian in this field. I also recommend this to any Christians of an intellectual bent as its insights can be applied far beyond the field of literary theory.

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