Where Mortals Dwell
A Christian View of Place for Today
Craig G. Bartholomew, Baker Academic
This is an important book on a significant topic.
It uses the close analysis of concept of place and associated terms to frame a persuasive reading of the entire Bible, Christian history and commentary on contemporary issues of home, church, politics and cities.
This might seem as grand an undertaking as it is refreshing — and in the end one wonders if the chronological historical approach fully tackles the thematic opportunities available.
On one hand it is a delight to survey narratives of Eden and Jewish tribal society through the same inquiry about belonging and place applied to the gospels and New Testament — and be reminded of recurrent inquiry about the dynamic relationship of humans and their material environments.
This recurrent theme is a refreshing tonic to Grecian idealism and quietism in Christian tradition — that faith is focused on paradise or inner life somehow disconnected to how and where we materially live on this planet.
This volume is a premise in any wider study of a spiritual ecology and new territorialising of society. One can want for more commentary in the last contemporary chapters, to balance the earlier historical chapters. Discussion on virtual and digital place would be good, as well as thematic connections between earlier cultures and today, and clearer conceptual distinction between public and private places (Protestants often focus too quickly on the latter).
The reference list is comprehensive and impressive. A deserving work in progress.