Tuesday, October 15, 2013

John Knox--Interesting Life, Interesting Book

This was a fun reading experience for me.  I had always wanted to learn about John Knox.  He was a character from the Reformation era that I knew was significant but really knew almost nothing about.  I also had wanted to read one of the Armchair Theologian books.  I love the idea of a short biographical sketch of specific theologians and their contributions to theological thought and was curious about how these books fleshed out.  So I was excited about the chance to read John Knox for Armchair Theologians.

Suzanne McDonald provides a great overview of Knox's life.  It spans his entire life and, while never diving too deep into the man and specific events, it definitely provides alot of information in a short amount of pages.  It also is a good overview of his major writings.  One drawback for some would be the lack of firsthand information.  I do not see it as a drawback however.  This is in no ways a John Knox reader, it is a biographical sketch that also covers his writings and it does so in an informative and entertaining way. 

One of the really exciting things about how McDonald has written is how she leaves the reader wanting to know more.  You finish the book and you find yourself wanting to know more about Knox but also wanting to read and study about other characters introduced through the narrative of Knox's life: Mary, Elizabeth, Bullinger, Cranmer.  

Knox has been the recipient of much derision for multiple reasons.  He held to an explicit exclusion of women from any roles of authority over men and a view of worship that forbade anything in worship that God himself did not command.  So he definitely would not have joined in any campaigning for Sarah Palin and would not have bobbed his head in unison with the drummer during the Sunday morning worship service.  In fact, he would have argued that that the Republican nomination of a woman and the local worship band to not just be inappropriate or obnoxious, but utterly sinful.  McDonald does an excellent job of not just exposing these facts about Knox but putting them in the perspective of his life and thought and allowing the reader the privilege of knowing why Knox came to these stances.

There is much to the life and thought of John Knox and I feel McDonald gives a gift to any curious reader.  Easy to read, informative, and entertaining.  This is a book that is well worth the time and effort.

I was provided a review copy of this book from the publisher to read and offer honest feedback.