Welcome once again to Eerdmans All Over, a Friday roundup of all the Eerdmans-related news, reviews, interviews, and other interesting online content we can gather in a given week.

Recent Releases

Four Gospels, One Jesus?
Four Gospels, One Jesus? A Symbolic Reading
Richard A. Burridge


Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer
Rowan Williams


News from Eerdmans . . .

. . . and elsewhere.

  • Publishers Weekly posted a starred review of Rowan Williams’s Being Christian: “Each of the four chapters closes with thoughtful questions, making this an excellent spiritual guide for individual or small group use.”How (Not) to Be Secular
  • Englewood Review of Books reviewed James K. A. Smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. “This is philosophy with feet, a thick theology that will get your heart beating because it meets you in the complicated world we all share.”
  • Two amazing eighth graders named Anika Rede and Maryum Ali created a website about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, consulting Nancy Koester (Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life) in their research. They entered their site in the National History Day Competition.  Ali and Rede won the State of Ohio competition, and went on to win fourth place in the nation!  They also won the Chronicling America Award from the Library of Congress.
  • William Abraham was interviewed by the Aqueduct Project about Canonical Theism, a book he edited with Jason E. Vickers  and Natalie B. Van Kirk.
  • Brittney Beakey of the blog Author Turf interviewed Lee Bennett Hopkins (Manger) in a fun, quick way, jumping through several “Quirky questions” and “Writing questions” with just one or two sentence (or word!) answers.
  • Kirkus reviewed Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak. “Inspired by a visit to a donkey sanctuary on the island of Corfu, this Dutch import offers a glimpse of a far-off land and a gentle lesson on caring for animals.”
  • Brother Hugo and the BearKaty Beebe (Brother Hugo and the Bear) returned to her roots to share her love of books with a writer’s conference for the Cass County Public Library Foundation, says the Kansas City Star.
  • The Patheos blog Euangellion reviewed Addison Hodges Hart’s Stangers and Pilgrims Once More, with a helpful summary and some words of affirmation.
  • Rhapsody in Book Weblog posted a review of Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe and S. D. Schindler. “This beautifully illustrated book about monks in the Twelfth Century echoes the look of manuscripts they produced.”
  • Bob Cornwall reviewed Dare We Speak of Hope? by Allan Aubrey Boesak. He says, “If we want to engage in a struggle that truly changes the reality for those on the margins, then we would be wise to consider the wisdom of Allan Boesak, a wisdom forged in the struggle for human dignity and justice.”
  • Shawn L. Wilhite reviewed David Crump’s book Encountering Jesus, Encountering Scripture on the blog Doctrinae Coram Deo. “This text raises important questions for the academic scholar regarding the relationship between Christian scholarship and faith in Jesus.”

Have we missed any news, reviews, or other online miscellany dealing with Eerdmans or EBYR books or authors from the last week? Please let us know in the comments. You also can post items on our Facebook timeline, mention us on Twitter (@eerdmansbooks or @ebyrbooks), or write to us directly: webmaster@eerdmans.com.

Earlier this week, Craig Harline introduced his new book Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary in a guest post here on EerdWord.

That’s all well and good (it was very good, actually), but . . . as Craig helpfully informed us . . . when Craig’s wife, Paula Kelly Harline, recently published her book with Oxford University Press, they put out an infographic to let readers know about it.

Now, we at EerdWord have traditionally thought of infographics mostly as a fun holiday treat, but we just couldn’t let Craig’s challenge go unanswered.

So today, partly to preserve equilibrium in the Harline household — but mostly for the benefit of readers who prefer their book promotions illustrated and fact filled — we’re very pleased to share with you our new Way Below the Angels infographic.

(Click anywhere on the graphic below to preorder your very own copy of the book. You can also find a larger version of this graphic on our website.)


You probably know that Eerdmans publishes fantastic Bible commentaries. You’re likely aware of our respected theological monographs, our groundbreaking ethics texts, and our library of ministry resources. You may even have heard about our award-winning line of international children’s books in translation.

But did you know that we also publish regional interest titlesArt booksFilm discussion guidesPoetry? Books on Celtic prayer? . . . physics? . . . Fokker airplanes?

Throughout the month of July, we’re celebrating some of the eclectic titles at the fringes of the Eerdmans list as we highlight a different niche collection each Wednesday.

This week we turn our gaze to Michigan history. Read on to discover five great books . . .

Holland, Michigan

Holland, Michigan

Holland, Michigan: From Dutch Colony to Dynamic City
Robert P. Swierenga

Holland, Michigan: From Dutch Colony to Dynamic City is a fresh and comprehensive history of the city of Holland from its beginnings to the increasingly diverse community it is today.

The three volumes that comprise this monumental work discuss such topics as the coming of the Dutch, the Americans who chose to live among them, schools, grassroots politics, the effects of the world wars and the Great Depression, city institutions, downtown renewal, and social and cultural life in Holland. Robert Swierenga also draws attention to founder Albertus Van Raalte’s particular role in forming the city — everything from planning streets to establishing churches and schools, nurturing industry, and encouraging entrepreneurs.

Lavishly illustrated with nine hundred photographs and based on meticulous research, this book offers the most detailed history of Holland, Michigan, in print.

Young Jerry Ford

Young Jerry Ford

Young Jerry Ford: Athlete and Citizen
Hendrik Booraem V

Rare has been the president whose life blended the individual drive that propels one to high office with the social responsibility of being an exemplary person. Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006) was one of those rare men.

In this biography Hendrik Booraem traces the early life of Gerald Ford in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to his high school graduation in 1931, showing how he developed the outlook and ideals that he brought to the White House. Ford’s childhood offers telling glimpses of family and school, sports and recreation, and Western Michigan life in the Jazz Age and the Depression. Amply illustrated with photos from the 1920s and ’30s, Young Jerry Ford shows the 38th President of the United States in a new and colorful light.

“A wonderful early life portrait of my dad growing up in West Michigan during the 1920s. All of the colorful stories and more that Dad told around our dinner table are here. No doubt Grand Rapids put its stamp on the future president that helped shape him to have the character to lead and heal our nation during a unique time in its history. This book is a great read.”
– Steve Ford

Read an excerpt from the book and a blog post by Booraem here on EerdWord.



Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State
Willis F. Dunbar and George S. May

This standard textbook on Michigan history covers the entire scope of the Wolverine State’s historical record — from when humankind first arrived in the area around 9,000 B.C. up to 1995.

The third revised edition of Michigan also examines events since 1980 and draws on new studies to expand and improve its coverage of various ethnic groups, recent political developments, labor and business, and many other topics. It includes photographs, maps, and charts.


Thin Ice: Coming of Age in Grand Rapids
Reinder Van Til and Gordon L. Olson

Thin Ice

Thin Ice

This unique volume contains twenty-eight fascinating life stories of people — many of whom went on to become famous — who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The coming-of-age stories in Thin Ice relate a range of experiences both good and bad, including happy memories and heartwarming recollections but also personal traumas, intergenerational and racial conflicts, the strictures of religious belief and practice, the joys and sorrows of young romance, and more. Above and beyond the stories of the more notable personalities — Jim Harrison, Roger Wilkins, John Hockenberry, President Gerald Ford, Betty Ford, Al Green, Paul Schrader, William Brashler — the book as a whole is chock-full of crisp, humorous, irreverent, and moving writing.

Reinder Van Til and Gordon Olson have excerpted half of the pieces from previous publications, while they directly solicited the other half from active writers specifically for this book. The earliest stories go back to the 1830s and 1850s, and the most recent are a cluster of contemporary pieces that describe coming of age in the Grand Rapids of the 1960s through the 1980s. Together they paint a multifaceted, impressionistic portrait of a century and a half in the fair city of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Great Lakes Shipwrecks and Survivals

Great Lakes Shipwrecks and Survivals

Great Lakes Shipwrecks and Survivals
William Ratigan

In this breathtaking chronicle of the most spectacular shipwrecks and survivals on the Great Lakes, William Ratigan re-creates vivid scenes of high courage and screaming panic from which no reader can turn away.

Included in this striking catalog of catastrophes and Flying Dutchmen are the magnificent excursion liner Eastland, which capsized at her pier in the Chicago River, drowning 835 people within clutching distance of busy downtown streets; the shipwrecked steel freighter Mataafa, which dumped its crew into freezing waters while the snowbound town of Duluth looked on; the dark Sunday in November 1913 when Lake Huron swallowed eight long ships without a man surviving to tell the tale; and the bitter November of 1958 when the Bradley went down in Lake Michigan during one of the greatest killer storms on the freshwater seas. An entire section is dedicated to the wreck of theEdmund Fitzgerald — the most famous maritime loss in modern times — in Lake Superior in 1975.

Chilling watercolor illustrations, photographs, maps, and news clippings accentuate Ratigan’s compelling and dramatic storytelling. Sailors, historians, and general readers alike will be swept away by these unforgettable tales of tragedy and heroism.

Read an EerdWord review of this book by Rachel Bomberger.

And one more (because we can’t resist) . . . 

An Eerdmans Century

An Eerdmans Century

An Eerdmans Century, 1911-2011
Larry ten Harmsel with Reinder Van Til

From ten-cent specials for Dutch farmers to over 1,000 titles currently in print, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has since 1911 built a solid reputation for producing “the finest in religious literature”: an ecumenical blend of thoughtful books by authors including C. S. Lewis, Karl Barth, John Howard Yoder, Philip Yancey, Joan Chittister, N. T. Wright, Rowan Williams, Martin Marty, Eugene Peterson, and Pope Benedict XVI. In this book, published in conjunction with the Eerdmans centennial celebration in 2011, Larry ten Harmsel tells the company’s story. Through first-person interviews, historical documents, and newly uncovered information, ten Harmsel relates how Wm. B. Eerdmans Sr. started and built the American publishing company that bears his name — and how Wm. B. Eerdmans Jr. has carried on the family tradition of independent and eclectic religious publishing into the company’s 100th year.

Read about the book in an interview with Larry ten Harmsel here on EerdWord.



Melanie C. Ross is assistant professor of liturgical studies at Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Mark Noll is, well, Mark Noll

The following excerpts are taken from Ross’s new book Evangelical versus Liturgical: Defying a Dichotomy, for which Noll has written the foreword. 

* * *

From the Foreword by Mark A. Noll . . . 

Evangelical versus Liturgical

Evangelical versus Liturgical

This book, though presenting its research calmly and moving carefully to thoughtful conclusions, has been written by an author with a mission. At first glance, Evangelical versus Liturgical? Defying a Dichotomy would seem to be on a fool’s errand, for it reflects commitments to both the theoretical liturgical studies that have flourished in Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant circles as well as the worshipping lives of Protestant evangelicals for whom “liturgy” can sometimes sound like a dirty word. Yet by bringing together her mastery of standard authorities in the study of Christian liturgy and her own familiarity with evangelical traditions, Melanie Ross shows that, far from a fool’s errand, this task can lead to edifying illumination.

The result of her pioneering effort is a challenge to scholars of liturgy to recognize that “free churches,” which may be inert to traditional or formal liturgical studies, nonetheless can possess responsible (if unselfconscious) liturgical traditions. Along the way it shows that these churches have often developed insights about worship that formally trained liturgical scholars need to appreciate, and that these churches deserve a place at the table in liturgical study more generally.

But the book also aims a challenge at evangelicals by showing that formal liturgical studies pose no threat to the free churches, that the informal liturgies of evangelical churches may contain unrecognized problems, and that free churches would benefit from more liturgical self-consciousness. Professor Ross has explored aspects of these themes in technical articles written primarily for scholars. With this book she shows that ordinary Christians who are concerned about their own worship practices, along with scholars, can benefit by “defying a dichotomy.” . . .

As a whole, this book is enhanced by Professor Ross’s broad reading in contemporary theology, both evangelical and other; it is marked by a solid grasp of American religious history; it reflects thorough knowledge of evangelical, mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic liturgies; and it is particularly alert to how those liturgical practices have changed over time. Most importantly, it is a strategically important attempt to bridge the gaps that continue to divide the American Christian landscape between self-conscious liturgical scholars and dedicated evangelicals. The payoff from Melanie Ross’s close attention to the day-to-day worshipping lives of ordinary American believers, her unusual measure of theological sophistication, and her deep liturgical learning is a feast for heart and mind in equal measure.

From the Introduction by Melanie C. Ross . . . 

The notion of “middle” is important to me because I live with one foot in both evangelical and liturgical worlds. When I first entered the world of liturgical studies, I was confused by a lexicon of words I had never encountered in my nondenominational church: anamnesis, epiclesis, homily, lectionary, and antiphon, to cite but a few examples. Over a decade later, I continue to do a great deal of translation work when I talk to my family and church friends about my chosen academic discipline. I am sympathetic to honest critiques of my tradition: evangelicals should be engaged in deeper study of sacramental practices, ecumenical creeds, and the liturgical year. Resources abound for introducing these topics, and I use them regularly in my teaching.

At the same time, I keep in mind John Witvliet’s caution:

It is terribly tempting to teach worship with an undertone of guilt (“if you don’t do it this way, be shamed”), fear (“worship practices out there are pretty bad, and getting worse”), or pride (“how fine indeed it is that we don’t pray like those [fill in the blank] publicans”).

Witvliet stresses that “even in the bleakest days,” the most fitting “gospel undertone” for discussions of worship is gratitude. So, in addition to introducing my low-church evangelical students to the riches of Catholic, Orthodox, and mainline Protestant liturgical traditions, I want to help them see that they themselves have important gifts to bring to the ecumenical table.

However, this book was born out of the discovery that little translation work was being done in the opposite direction: it was — and continues to be — difficult to find academic literature that explains “low church” evangelical worship practices to those from more “high church” liturgical traditions. In 1989, liturgical historian James White noted that evangelicalism had been “almost totally ignored in liturgical scholarship, as if such an omnipresent American phenomenon did not deserve description, still less interpretation.” Fourteen years later, in 2003, liturgical theologian Graham Hughes reported little change in the scholarly landscape: “One faces an unmapped (possibly hazardous) territory in attempting to include evangelical Christianity in an account of liturgical theology. . . . This style of worship is simply bypassed in discussions of liturgical theology.” White and Hughes sound similar notes of caution to their mainline and Catholic colleagues. “We face a basic problem in ignoring the worship of most North American Christians,” says White; and Hughes comments that “as a highly prominent way of making sense of ‘God’ in our times, [evangelicalism] belongs in an account of liturgical meaning production.”

White, Hughes, and a handful of other liturgical scholars have taken steps to address the lacuna, and I am appreciative of their pioneering work. But as an individual with deep academic and experiential knowledge of evangelicalism, I find their scholarship problematic on a number of levels.

Too many historical accounts of evangelical worship fixate on the controversial innovations of Charles Finney and neglect the ecumenical vision of earlier evangelical leaders. Too many liturgical scholars use the words “fundamentalism” and “evangelicalism” interchangeably, despite the fact that historians like Mark Noll, George Marsden, and Joel Carpenter have spent thirty years nuancing the definitions of both terms. Too many descriptions of evangelical worship are written by mainline scholars on the basis of isolated visits or secondhand reports. Most of these accounts are now decades out of date and describe a “seeker-service” model whose influence has waned significantly among evangelicals. There is pressing need for work that brings together the best of liturgical scholarship with the best scholarship on American evangelicalism and puts both in conversation with worship practices of contemporary congregations. I hope this book is one small step in that direction.

Click to order Melanie C. Ross’s Evangelical versus Liturgical: Defying a Dichotomy

Craig Harline

Craig Harline

Craig Harline is the author of Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary. He teaches European history at Brigham Young University. Learn more about him at craigharline.com.

* * *

Why would a former Mormon-missionary want to publish his presumably very Mormon account of his presumably very Mormon mission with Eerdmans?

Or even more to the point, why would venerable old Eerdmans want to publish such a Mormony thing as that?

I can speak only for myself, of course, but I’m pretty sure that the answer to both questions is basically the same, and it’s this: the book is meant just as much for other-believers as it is for Mormons.

If it were more the triumphalist-faith-promoting sort of thing, meant to inspire Mormons and alienate just about everyone else, then I would indeed have sent it to a Mormon-oriented press, where triumphalist-faith-promoting sorts of things about missions have pretty much, well, triumphed.

And if it were more the real-inside-story-about-an-obviously-ridiculous-faith-tradition-by-someone-who-saw-the-light-and-thank-goodness-got-out-just-in-time sort of thing, meant to confirm the suspicions of outsiders and alienate just about all Mormons, then maybe I could have interested one of the really big publishing houses, where real-inside-story sorts of things are pretty much de rigueur.

But my story (and most mission-stories) didn’t feel like it fit either one of those long-prevailing sorts of things. Instead it felt like something that any type of believer (including Mormons), might relate to. And where better to try to reach a crowd like that than Eerdmans?

Ironically, it was being a missionary, and then later a historian of the Reformation, that got me a lot more interested in “relating” to other-believers than in converting them. And for me the best way to relate has always been through sharing warts-and-all faith experiences, rather than talking (arguing) about theology.

There’s nothing wrong (usually) with talking (arguing) about theology, of course. In fact it’s usually what people interested in improving relations between people of different faiths think of doing first, in the hope of finding things you can agree on. But it doesn’t always improve relations, or understanding — and not necessarily so much because the respective parties inevitably won’t agree on everything, but because they still don’t relate to each other as people, or in other words still haven’t really seen themselves in each other.

My friend David Dominguez, who as an evangelical law professor at BYU knows a little something about interfaith relating, says that even more important than talking with other-believers about theology is walking with them. Sure, walking usually includes talking, but the sort of walking and talking he has in mind is like the sort on the road to Emmaus, which “teaches us to approach each other gently, with the utmost of care for each other’s well-being, . . . matching each other stride for stride, doing all we can to catch up with the hope and despair we all experience in the practice of Christian faith. Only after we have traveled miles together and given each other time to tell the whole story can we open up the Word in the here and now, among real brothers and sisters, rather than engage in debates over abstract doctrine.”

I think I’d be totally onboard with a rule that says, “No talking (arguing) about theology (or politics or anything else) until you’ve shared enough of your warts-and-all story that you can see yourself in the other person — and not just to keep the noise level down or as some polite preliminary to the main show, but because seeing yourself in the other person actually changes the talking (arguing).”

Oh, seeing someone like that wouldn’t solve everything, and maybe wouldn’t bring world peace (actually maybe it would), and you’d still disagree on assorted things.

Way Below the Angels

Way Below the Angels

But you’d disagree now with empathy and informed understanding, instead of mistrust and suspicion.

And you’d try your darndest to characterize the views of the other person fairly, instead of carelessly or distortedly.

And you’d stop reducing that person to simply a member of a group.

And you’d be happy instead of alarmed about what you had in common.

And you’d be open to learning things from another person’s tradition that aren’t in your own.

And when you saw things in the other person’s tradition that seemed obviously silly and merely culturally bound, you’d be more willing to reflect on things in your own tradition that were very possibly of the selfsame ilk.

But again most of all you’d be inclined to see that other person as someone basically like you, rather than as someone basically not.

Of course some people don’t want to see themselves in the other, like congregants in the Reformation who complained when their preachers didn’t rail enough against enemies of the faith: they needed those enemies in order to define themselves! And, in fact, once you start seeing yourself in someone, it’s hard to go back, because it’s interesting, and comforting, and satisfying.

Eerdmans already has plenty of warts-and-all books that offer even former Mormon-missionaries the chance to see themselves in unexpected others — like Lamin Sanneh’s Summoned From the Margin, or Rembert Weakland’s A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, or Dorothy Dickens Meyerink’s Ministry among the Maya. Books like these even made me think that maybe others would see themselves in my story too — see the humanness in Mormon missionaries, instead of the usual angelicness, demonicness, roboticness, or (thanks to the musical) moronicness.

And I’m glad Eerdmans seemed to see that too.

Click to visit Craig Harline’s website or to order Way Below the Angels