A Reading of the Parables of Jesus by Ruth Etchells, Darton, Longman and Todd, £9.95. Ruth Etchells, a former head of St John's College, Durham, is one of the Church of England's most distinguished theologians. Here she applies the techniques of literary criticism to the parables, providing a fascinating insight into their power and meaning. The parables, she writes, are "documents of hope for humankind. And as such, rooted as they now are for us in the living hope that is our experience of Christ, they are our gift to pass on, to children yet unborn, the coming generation."
Emissary of Light by James F Twyrnan, Hodder & Stoughton 03.99. The author, a sort of New Age troubador, travelled to Bosnia during the war to give a peace concert. There he claims to have met a mystical community said to have existed for thousands of years, dedicated to the eternal flame of peace and the banishment of fear and mistrust from the world. Twyrnan now dedicates his life to helping people to become "Emissaries of Light".
Care in a Confused Climate: Pastoral Care and Postmodern Culture by Paul Goodliff, Darton. Longman and Todd £12.95. This book examines pastoral care against the backdrop of the enormous cultural and social changes of what sociologists call "late modernity". The author, a Baptist theologian, argues that pastoral care is never undertaken in
a cultural or religious vacuum. While the purpose of that care might be unchanging, the means by which it is accomplished, its priorities, and the tasks that enable it, are all shaped by the wider culture.
The Venerable Bede by Benedicta Ward SLG, Outstanding Christian Thinkers series, Geoffrey Chapman £10.99. A reissue of a much-admired account of the full range of Bede's writings. Sister Benedicta is a Reader in the History of Christian Spirituality at Oxford University. This study was praised extravagantly by leading medieval historians when it was first published in I990. Professor Henry Mayr-Harting wrote: "In a short span this book contrives to be a masterly introduction to one of the major figures of early English history, in all aspects of his scholarship and personality."
The Country of Old Age: A Personal Adventure in Time by Shirley Toulson, Hodder and Stoughton ,C6.99. "Most books on old age that I have come across start off with cheerful advice on financial plans, ways of keeping healthy and hobbies," writes Shirley Toulson. "Death only
comes up as an apologetic coda in the last chapter. I prefer to face it at the outset and if possible make friends with it at the start... My concern is with the natural end of life, an event as ordinary and miraculous as birth." This book seeks to provide a "map" that makes sense of the landscape of old age and its penetrating and inescapable demands.