Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

Author: K. C. (page 1 of 14)

Carmina Burana

My wife and I belong to the Eugene Concert Choir, and we are practicing to perform Carl Orff‘s Carmina Burana. Since the text is a combination of Medieval Latin and Middle High German, it is like learning to recite fifty pages of tongue twisters. But the music is wonderfully powerful. If you would like to see a terrific performance by full choir and orchestra, see the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and multiple choirs in this video.

Trump and Iowa

Perhaps my favorite line from the current presidential race is Donald Trump’s comment this past Friday. He was told by reporters that he was behind Ben Carson in the polls. And his advisors told him that Evangelical voters have great sway in Iowa. His response to his supporters was that he wasn’t giving up on Iowa, and besides “I’m a great Christian! And I do well with Evangelicals.” He also passed out a 1959 photo of his confirmation. Amazing.

Google Books

Currently, Google Books has already scanned about 20 million books towards its goal to include 100+ million books. This past Friday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan (a three-judge panel) made its decision that Google Books has not violated copyright law of “fair use” in offering “Snippet View” (less than 16% of content) of books. In general, Google Books offers “Full View” for books in public domain, “Limited Preview” for books approved by the copyright holder, “No Preview Available” for books not yet scanned, and “Snippet View” for the rest.

I have to say that as an editor I have sometimes found Google Books very helpful in checking the accuracy of quotations. I can’t check everything, but it has come in handy numerous times. I don’t read whole books or chapters on line. But I have been able to view books to see if they are something I am interested in buying. So I am upbeat about the project. One thing I would find helpful is if as part of “Snippet View” they would offer a complete table of contents. But however this proceeds, Friday’s court decision represents another chapter in the ongoing changes in the publishing industry. Stay tuned!


Nicholas Kristof (Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnist for the New York Times) wrote an excellent column on October 3 in the wake of the killings at Umqua Community College. But as he points out, the larger issue is not simply mass shootings; 92 Americans die every day of gun violence—homicide and suicide. In 2013, 27 police officers were killed in the line of duty; but that same year 82 preschoolers were shot to death!

In this piece he argues for an “evidence-based public health approach” to gun violence. He notes that we while we don’t ban automobiles or cigarettes, despite numerous related deaths each year, we do regulate them heavily. And those regulations have reduced deaths and injuries dramatically. He brings up guns with fingerprint or PIN protection, as well as storage requirements. But one of the proposals he makes for reducing gun deaths I had not heard before is to require liability insurance for anyone who owns guns. Just as automobile insurance places on the driver/owner a responsibility for the consequences of driving a potentially lethal vehicle, liability insurance for a gun-owner would require taking responsibility for the consequences of that ownership. While that clearly doesn’t control those with illegally purchased weapons, it does place a burden of responsibility on anyone owning a legal weapon. And just because people drive illegally without insurance doesn’t mean we don’t require everyone to carry it.

One of my favorite comments (some years back by a commentator) on the second amendment rights of gun-owners is that she is a “strict constructionist” when it comes to gun-ownership. She said she thought Americans should be able to own as many muzzle-loading muskets as they like (as in the eighteenth century)—just not AK47s with armor-piercing bullets!


One biblical book that is not highly read by the nonscholarly community is the book of Deuteronomy. My friend of over thirty years, Don Benjamin, has written a really engaging commentary on Deuteronomy, employing methods of feminist criticism and social-science criticism. He provides so much that is interesting along with an enormous wealth of secondary literature (most of it not well know). He engages a wide range of not only feminist and social-science literature, but also comparative ancient Near Eastern materials. This volume will be ready by the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in November. I recommend you put this on your list.

Gareth Dunlop

Gareth Dunlop is a singer–songwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who has a fresh sound. I recommended him a couple of years ago in a blog. His website has two albums that you can listen to in full. He moves from R&B rhythms to ballads with ease and great lyrics. His website now also includes his “Hold On,” which is a featured song in Nicholas Sparks’ film, The Best of Me. He is joined by the group SHEL. I think he is worth a listen.

Oakman’s The Political Aims of Jesus

Years ago, I acquired The Political Aims of Jesus by my good friend Doug Oakman for Fortress Press, and it finally appeared in 2012. Doug is also the author of Jesus and the Economic Questions of His Day (1986), Jesus and the Peasants (2008, a collection of his most important essays), and Jesus, Debt, and the Lord’s Prayer (2014). Together, he and I wrote Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts (2nd ed., 2008; 1st ed. 1998). Working with him on that last book was one of the highlights of my life.

Doug asked me to give him feedback on a preliminary version of the manuscript of Political Aims, and I was blown away by it. But now, three years later, I just reread the whole thing, and I was blown away a second time. I think I have had more time to let his approach and conclusions sink in; but I am repeatedly startled/awakened by his skill in bringing new light on well-known gospel passages.

Doug begins with the importance of H. S. Reimarus‘s work for seeing what Jesus was up to, and why Schweitzer so highly praised his work. But we are are far down the road from Reimarus in terms of archaeological, historical, literary, and social analyses, and this is where Doug’s work takes off. He analyzes the political—and political economic—landscape of Galilee and greater Palestine and then focuses on the earliest Q (Sayings Source) material and what Jesus’ emphases were: the disenfranchisement of the peasants, the land grabs by the elites, the oppressive tax situation (temple, Herodian, and Roman), emphases of priestly religion that foregrounds purity issues over justice, and what God’s dominion would mean in addressing these issues.

He looks intently at the sayings, parables, and actions of Jesus in a politically charged and economically complex environment—and prior to later christological emphases. One of the most rewarding things about the book is Doug’s analysis of the intent of the parables. Reading his fresh interpretations often feels like I am hearing these for first time. But this brief summary only scratches the surface of this important work.

If you are interested at all in a deep look at the Jesus tradition, I not only highly recommend this book, I would say put it on your “must have” list!

Unintended Consequences

The phrase “unintended consequences” usually implies negative results—and that is what Sandra Ericson recently wrote about in an opinion piece in our local newspaper. Ericson is a former member of the Planning Commission and chair of the city’s Climate Protection Task Force in St. Helena, California, in the Napa Valley.
The focus of her piece is on the negative effects of expanding wineries. She points out that instead of vineyards being part of a balanced agriculture in California and Oregon, they have displaced orchards, truck farms, and wheat fields. The vineyards have become tourist centers, overtaxing roads and other infrastructure. They have required more hotels and taken a share of the hotel taxes. They tend to push middleclass residents out of the area to make room for the 1 percent.
Another set of problems is water. During the droughts, the vineyards have had to drill deeper wells, draining the aquifers. She also notes that growers deforest hillsides to plant more vines; and vineyards absorb carbon at a rate of 1.5 compared to trees at 85.
One of the truly bizarre issues Ericson mentions is that in the U.S. a foreign investor can obtain a “green card” (permanent resident status) for investing $1 million in agriculture. But it is only $500,000 if one invests in a vineyard. Who knew you could actually buy a green card at all?
One last issue is how “boutique” wineries become absorbed into corporate agriculture. They are bought up as investments by both U.S. and foreign investors with no care about the local community. In other words, the profits are taken from the community, but the consequences to water resources, climate, animal habitat, infrastructure, and the local economy are not dealt with by those who profit from it.

Marvin Chaney Festschrift

One of the most incisive Old Testament scholars that I know is Marvin Chaney, emeritus professor at San Francisco Theological Seminary. His insights into the eighth-century prophets are extremely important, but difficult to lay one’s hands on—most of his important publications have been in Festschriften and hard to find publications.

I just purchased the Festschrift in Marv’s honor: To Break Every Yoke: Essays in Honor of Marvin L. Chaney, edited by Robert B. Coote and Norman K. Gottwald, Social World of Biblical Antiquity 2/3 (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2007). This is noteworthy because of the amazing lineup of contributors; besides the two fabulous editors: Gale Yee, Keith Whitelam, William Dever, Aaron Brody & Elizabeth Friedman, Carol Meyers, Ronald Hendel, David Hopkins, D. N. Prenmath, Katharine Sakenfeld, Frank Frick, Patricia Dutcher-Walls, Phyllis Bird, Herman Waetjen, Richard Horsley, Richard Rohrbaugh, Antoinette Wire, Luise Schottroff, and John H. Elliott. The essays are grouped into the following categories: Methodology, Archaeology & Social Sciences, Gender Studies, Apocalyptic and the NT, and Varia.

This makes a most impressive tribute to Marv and his many interests. In my experience, most Festschriften hold only one or two essays that really attract my attention. But I think I am not exaggerating when I say that I am intrigued by every single essay here—more than 365 pages worth! That is great bounty indeed.


An interesting development here in Eugene is a new “channel” on the web called Students from the University of Oregon in Prof. Ed Madison’s Media Entrepreneurship course put the channel together as a way of engaging and connecting readers. The idea is to have a place where book lovers can go for a variety of book information—author interviews etc. They have videos organized on pages for: Fiction, Nonfiction, Authors, Humor, and Kids Corner (unfortunately missing the apostrophe). They partner with the UO bookstore and Powell’s City of Books in Portland. I think this is an innovative approach to keep folks interested in books.

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