I've been very busy lately with exams, finishing papers, etc. It has been a great semester. I have about a week off and then I'm jumping into a summer-long Latin class. This Fall I'll be applying to graduate programs and I realize that with the economy the way it is programs that are already very competitive will become even more so. So, I've been reading books suggested to me by professors at various schools as well as working my way through U of Chicago's "History of Christianity" reading list.
Some great books and articles I've read (both on and off these lists) lately are:
Elizabeth A. Clark, "The Origenist Controversy: The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate." - This book is fantastic. Though I originally was disinterested in some of the methods she uses from other fields, I found myself really enjoying the explanations they afforded. Dr. Clark's book put into perspective the social dimension of a debate between early Christians and it really helped to see why particular people held out in particular camps.
"In Eloquio Dominico: In Lordly Eloquence: Essays on Patristic Exegesis in Honor of Robert Louis Wilken." - This book has essays by people like John Cavadini, Brian Daley, Judith Kovacs, etc. Wilken is one of my favorite scholars of patristic exegesis. His "The Christians as the Romans Saw Them" was the first book I read by him and I was hooked immediately. This book is a gold mine of essays that highlight the many valuable things Patristics can teach modern Biblical scholars. I particularly enjoyed Gary Anderson's article on Adam and Eve; John Cavadini's essay on the aqedah in Philo, Origen, and Ambrose; Michael Compton's insightful essay on the significance of the names Saul and Paul; and Judith Kovacs' essay on Origen's homilies on 1 Corinthians.
Brant Pitre, "Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement." I had promised a chapter-by-chapter review of the book, but I can't find it in myself to sit down and write a short review of each chapter. The whole book is too good. I've said it earlier, but I feel like this book could cause some major paradigm shifts in historical Jesus research.
A book that doesn't deal with the early Church, but was written by a professor here at ECU is "The War Against Catholicism: Liberalism and the Anti-Catholic Imagination in Nineteenth -Century Germany". Michael B. Gross is one of our history professors here and this is an edited version of his dissertation done at Brown. Though the anti-Semitic movement in Europe is well-documented, Dr. Gross describes the anti-Catholic sentiment that played out in various facets of German political and social life.
Ben Witherington III, "New Testament Rhetoric: An Introductory Guide to the Art of Persuasion in and of the New Testament" - I really like most of what Dr. Witherington writes and this book is no exception. He was only a few feet away from me when I bought this at SBL but I was too nervous to ask him to sign it...you snooze, you lose. At any rate, I found this a great introductory book and would probably suggest this to someone before having them read George A. Kennedy's, "Comparative Rhetoric."
A.J. Levine, "The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus." I don't necessarily always agree with Levine, but when she's right, she's very right. Her assessment of modern academics not drinking deeply enough from the well of ancient texts is spot on.
One of my really odd interests is in the Ladder Day Saints (or Mormons). Ever since I was about 17 I've really enjoyed reading LDS literature. One particular issue that I find interesting is their idea of baptism for the dead (by proxy). I recently read an article by R.E. DeMaris entitled "Corinthian Religion and Baptism for the Dead (1 Corinthians 15:29): Insights from Archaeology and Anthropology." JBL 114 (1995) 661-682.