Brian Brock, Singing the Ethos of God: On the Place of Christian Ethics in Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 386pp. (with thanks to Eerdmans for a review copy)
Brian Brock is a lecturer in moral and practical theology in the divinity department at Aberdeen . He did his PhD at King's College London under Michael Banner (a book version of the PhD is forthcoming). This is his first book.
This is rich, bold and challenging read. It's argument and use of technical words means it requires careful reading and in my case re-reading. It is a bold book because it's aim is not to create another theory or methodology of how scripture is used in Christian ethics, rather it seeks to present scripture as Christian grammar into which we are drawn as we read and 'sing' scripture. Brock begins by surverying and engaging with the contemporary discussions about the relationship between the Bible and Christian ethics, but ultimately wants to suggest that we have more to learn from the exegetical practices of the saints, namely Augustine and Luther, into how scripture provides Christians with God's ethos, into which we are drawn and also enabled to practice.
It is a challenging read because it requires careful reading. The chapters on Augustine and Luther are especially dense. This is not to suggest it is a badly written book, rather it demands you keep reading and keep engaging with its argument. I have found the penultimate chapter, where Brock brings the various threads he has discussed together, very rich and helpful. What I have particular found exciting with this book is the implications for how the local church reads scripture. How can we “sing” scripture so that we praise God? Brock says scripture is like going to a foreign country having to learn a new language and customs and where 'discovering our way into life with God is an experience in which we can see that many competing crosscurrents of our inner and outer lives are claimed and rearranged' (244)
It's a book I recommend, but perhaps best read with others so its argument can be discussed and brought to bear on church practice. For all our talk of being bible-based, my suspicion is that the Bible often has a marginal role in church life and much is the same with the discuss of ethics or how we are to live as the people of God. Brock believes scripture has a central and key role in providing the church with a grammar and a language to live and sing as God's people.