JUST IN TIME for Lent reading come two new titles in the Random House Vintage Spiritual Classics series – handsomely produced in new translations and with useful introductory material.
The Confessions are the spiritual odyssey of a merry pagan who became a North African bishop and powerful apologist for the faith. His two best-known quotations sum it up: “Lord, grant me chastity and self-control, but not yet,” together with the prayer, “You have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.” These memoirs shocked Augustine’s fourth-century contemporaries with their frankness, and people today still experience, if not shock, amazement.
[pullquote] The Book of Job confronts the age-old question: Why does God permit the innocent to suffer and the wicked to thrive? It is at the heart of Job’s story of a righteous man stripped of everything he has or loves on the apparent whim of his God, and it also appears in the Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus. This translation includes a collection of commentaries about Job from Moses Maimonides in the 12th century.
Here is tested the depth of our own faith as Job’s was tested; here is a God who refuses to conform to human imaginings.
William Portman is book reviews editor for the Anglican Journal.