TRANS ACTION IN BIBLICAL SOCIETY
Kenneth Cragg

Classical Greek had the words it needed for most things and bestowed many of them on the English language, as ‘logic’ and ‘psyche’. Less familiar is hendiadys which has to do with what the supermarkets call ‘two for the price of one’ or ‘buy one and get one free.’ Shakespeare was very fond of this usage as in ‘pith and moment’, ‘sound and fury’, ‘country and bourne’. Here there is more than mere addition. There is a complementarity. Each contributes to the other. There is more than arithmetic, there is mutuality.
What, this way, belongs with language obtains also in life and can be detected in biography. William Shakespeare the dramatist colludes with William Shakespeare the actor. Thomas Carlyle was more than a historian: he was a ‘hero-worshipper’ and the two married in his writing.
Trans Action in Biblical Society traces this interplay of cohering factors in shaping human character. It takes nine living situations from ‘Jacob and the angel’ to ‘John and the Incarnation’ to underwrite a living hendiadys of thought and theme—an approach which can also be made to three English poets who are variously and uneasily involved in a Biblical situation in the muse of verse.
Too often Biblical issues have been subdued to concerns of critical scholarship  in default of how they must also address the soul. Or they have been taken into ‘literary study’ as if art appreciation was all they sought. But beyond these necessary disciplines, there awaits us what seeks the conscience of obedience and the conversion of the heart.

The Christian/Muslim relationship, taken gently in hand over a long period, is a great educator in Biblical study and the theology to be drawn from it. There are crucial positives in the human meaning but also the urgent disparities in vital reaches of the New Testament. Kenneth Cragg has the asset or the onus—whichever it be—of seventy years in the task.

138 x 216mm, 272 pages, hardback
ISBN 978 1 901764 57 4
£25.00 October 2009

 

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