2018 in 9 Reviews

We’ve had a busy year at SCM Press, and we’ve been thrilled to receive so much positive feedback in journals and magazines, from individuals and via our website. Here’s just a few of our favourite comments.

To Gain at Harvest: Portraits from the English Reformation (Jonathan Dean)

“Jonathan Dean’s eloquent and enlightening portraits of ten ‘icons of faithfulness’ from the Reformation –  clerical and lay, male and female, Protestant and Catholic –  are intended to facilitate a dialogue between modern Christians and their forebears from a fractured and traumatized age. This is ecumenism of a robust and courageous kind, not looking to erase or minimize past differences, but holding out the hope that sincere efforts to understand Christian integrity in an era of conflict can help illuminate our own difficult path to unity.”


Professor Peter Marshall, Department of History, University of Warwick

The Abiding Presence: A Theological Commentary on Exodus (Mark Scarlata)

“The writer, a vicar and a lecturer at a London theological college, has written this commentary ‘to understand not how Exodus came to be but what Exodus means.’ Having reviewed other commentaries so  suffused in theological terminology that they unintentionally conceal the message of the book concerned, Scarlata instead actively reveals Exodus’s message in the contexts of the reality of God’s abiding presence with His chosen people and of His revelation to Moses at the burning bush, on Sinai and within the tabernacle. Much too is devoted to ‘the revealed God who remains hidden’, echoing the very definition of faith (Heb. 11:1) and emphasising the centrality of Exodus to the entire Old Testament (and to the New). Aside from the final, each chapter finishes with a concise summary from a New Testament perspective on the
material covered. These summaries provide not only accessible application, but also a sermon source and study guide. 

If more commentaries were written like this, more Christians would read them.

Andrew Carr in The Reader, 18.4

Undoing Theology: Life Stories from Non-Normative Christians(Chris Greenough)

“The aim of this engaging and thoughtful volume in the SCM Research Series is “to explore the content of the spiritual and religious journeys” of three non-normative Christians, in order to explore “the cumulative impact of traditional theological discourse regarding sexuality” on their lives.

… Greenough subtly defends experience as a source of theology by conceding its limitations (for instance, its shifting character and the limitations of the language by which it is articulated). Queer theory and queer theology, like experience, also require undoing. They help us “to deconstruct previously traditional dominant theologies”, but they don’t figure in the lives of people, and they don’t recognise the need to preserve what is good within master narratives.

Christians of the more “normative” kind will learn much from the book as well. Simply listening to the stories told (and thousands of others like them) is a simple act of neighbour-love and plain human respect. We need to learn the pain that we cause. This is a bold, truthful book…”

Adrian Thatcher, Church Times

Seeking the God Beyond: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality (JP Williams)

“The sub-title is ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality,’
and it is exactly that, an overview of the via negativa, a way to reach God by discovering what he is not rather than what he is. I found it a theological page-turner, leading on from the biblical roots starting with
Moses, the Song of Songs and John the Baptist to Jesus; these texts are revisited in succeeding chapters: an explanation of the ‘negative way’; exponents such as St John of the Cross and Meister Eckhart; a fascinating
description of related topics, Paul in Athens, Keats’ Negative Capability, the books of Narnia and Zen Buddhism; finally apophatic content in practices such as pilgrimage, liturgy and prayer. There are useful addenda such as the need for spiritual emptying and humility in the Afterword, and also further reading. You will gather that it is very wide-ranging, indeed breath-taking in its compass, but it is in direct language
and easy to read. I would say it is essential for those engaged in spiritual direction and otherwise highly recommended for all.”

John Foxlee in The Reader, 18.4

A Preacher’s Tale: 
Explorations in Narrative Preaching
  (Jon Russell)

“Russell has practised what he preaches here on training courses where preaching is taken very seriously as a theological and practical discipline. His sermons are easy to read and, one must assume, engaging to hear, offering space for dialogue and a more emotional and transformative response to the word of God which is being proclaimed. His short reflections combine practical wisdom and helpful insights from superstars of the preaching world: Barbara Brown Taylor, Thomas G. Long, Henri H. Mitchell, and Eugene Lowry, revealing the influence of the New Homiletic movement.
It would be a danger to underestimate the challenge in a book like this, but Russell gently provokes preachers to re-cast their preaching in a new light — letting their scriptural imagination run free, and reigniting their vocation.
Given the growing interest in preaching, there is a need to hear from those voices who have honed their skills on the ground. The real test of those who write, teach, and lecture about preaching is whether they are any good in the pulpit. A Preacher’s Tale suggests that Russell is, and is someone worth listening to.”

Victoria Johnson, Church Times

Broken Bodies:
The Eucharist, Mary and the Body in Trauma Theology (Karen O’Donnell)

“This extraordinarily powerful book does not retreat from the blood, loss and deathliness sewn into Christian theologies across the ages. Nonetheless, it also insists on their transformative potential and capacity to bring new light to experiences of trauma and its aftermath today. O’Donnell’s is a bold new voice in constructive theology.”

Susannah Cornwall, Exeter University, UK

Buying God: Consumerism and Theology (Eve Poole)

“Dr Poole’s work is a magnificent contribution to the church. Written by a gifted theologian and practitioner, this book is for all those wishing to gain both a richer theological understanding of capitalism and modern consumerism, and practical insights on how we can simplify our lives. This is vital work, not only for our own spiritual benefit, but also for the good of society and for the wellbeing of our planet.”

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Theology for Changing Times: John Atherton and the Future of Public Theology (edited by Christopher R. Baker and Elaine Graham)

“This all-star collection of essays strikes sparks off the valuable legacy of the late John Atherton’s social theology. It will hugely enrich our understanding of the impressive trajectory of Anglican social thought that runs from William Temple to the present. It will spur us to a more incarnational engagement with the empirical, material world and stimulate a deeper wrestling with the the unresolved theological problem of the meaning of ‘the secular’ in our contemporary pluralistic society.” 

Paul Avis, honorary professor, University of Durham.  

The Hardest Part: A Centenary Critical Edition (GA Studdert Kennedy, edited by Thomas O’Loughlin and Stuart Bell)

“A dialogue across the years since World War One about the age-old problem of how to reconcile horror and fear with the Christian message. This is a reprint of a deeply thoughtful book with modern reflections, critical comments and very exciting notes by Tom O’Loughlin and Stuart Bell. An inspiring project”

Customer review on the SCM Press website

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