Author Archives: Harold Henkel

About Harold Henkel

Associate Librarian

Book Discussion: The Confessions of St. Augustine

In the introduction to her analysis of Shakespeare’s plays, scholar Marjorie Garber writes that “what is often described as the timelessness of Shakespeare…is perhaps better understood as an uncanny timeliness, a capacity to speak directly to circumstances the playwright could not have anticipated or foreseen.”1

Of all the ancient authors whose works have come down to us, perhaps none fits this description so well as Augustine. His Confessions depict a civilization and personages that seem immediately recognizable to us. From his religiously indifferent father to, to his pious mother not above prioritizing ambition for her son over Biblical teaching, to Augustine himself, a brilliant intellectual torn between lust and spiritual yearning, we feel that at, at various times in our lives, we have known modern equivalents of Augustine and his parents.

In the Confessions, written in his early 40s, Augustine tells us the story of his life from boyhood to his conversion at age 31. Readers interested in ancient history will find a vivid picture of life in the North African provinces during the final decades of the Roman Empire. Far more important, however, is Augustine’s examination of the spiritual meaning behind even seemingly insignificant events, such as the famous theft of pears from a neighbor’s tree by a mischievous boy Augustine and his fellow miscreants. Above all, and the explanation for its continuous impact on Christian readers since its publication in 400, the Confessions illustrates, through Augustine’s own life, the truth of the author’s words to God near the beginning of the book: “In yourself you rouse us, giving us delight in glorifying you, because you made us with yourself as our goal, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”2

On Friday, October 27 at noon, the Library Book Club begins its fifteenth season with a discussion of this essential work for all Christians. It is not necessary to complete the book to participate, and both Audible and Hoopla have free audiobook options for listening. For the complete schedule and link to register for in-person or video participation, see the Library Book Club homepage.

1Marjorie B. Garber, Shakespeare after All. (New York: Pantheon Books, 2004), 3.  

2Augustine, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 3.

 

Sukkot: Thanksgiving & Remembrance

Sukkot is one of the most joyful festivals on the Jewish calendar. Occurring shortly after the “Days of Awe” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a week-long thanksgiving for the fall harvest, which in Israel is usually completed in September.1 The holiday also commemorates God’s protection of the Israelites during the Exodus and the forty years of wandering in the desert. But what can an ancient holiday that most non-Jews have never heard of teach Christians today, and what is it about Sukkot that Rabbi Meir Soloveichik posits “speaks profoundly to the moral and spiritual challenges of our time”?2

The Regent University Library and the School of Divinity invite the CBN and Regent communities to join us for this special event. Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman, founder of Temple Lev Tikvah and senior rabbi scholar at Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church, will explain the meaning and significance of Sukkot and its place in the liturgical year. There will also be traditional Sukkot Scriptural readings in Hebrew and English.
For more information and a link to register for in-person and online attendance, see our Sukkot event page.

1For a concise account of the annual agricultural cycle in Israel and its relationship to the cycle of Jewish holidays, see Les Saidel, “The Circle of a Year,” The Jerusalem Post, September 25, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/the-circle-of-a-year-603008

2Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, “Sacred Time Ep 4: Sukkot – The Eternal Lulav and Etrog,” YouTube Video, 35:15, October 5, 2018, https://youtu.be/3zExi3hCwN8?si=gqAOJy7IpAbbRZ3O

 

Library Book Club Schedule for 2023-2024

The Library Book Club was launched in 2008 with the goal of bringing members of the Regent and CBN communities together to read and discuss important works of literature in an informal setting.

This academic year, the Library Book Club schedule is comprised of five classic Christian works chosen by the librarians from 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. In selecting our list of five books, we tried to pick works that are on the to-read list of many Christians and are just waiting for the right opportunity to occur, such as a group read in a Christian book club.

While there is no requirement to finish a book to come to the discussion, we have scheduled the list so that even the longest book, The Brothers Karamazov, can be completed with a commitment to read (or listen) a little each day. All the titles are available from the Library in print and e-books formats and in audiobook through Audible, Hoopla, or Libby.

For the complete schedule and links to register for in-person or video participation, see the Library Book Club homepage. For additional information, contact Harold Henkel

Book Discussion: Job & Oedipus: Evil, Affliction, and Scapegoating

Sphinx and Oedipus, ca. 450 BC*

The existence of evil and suffering by the good is one of the eternal questions of life. In the Hebrew Bible and literature of the ancient Greeks, nowhere is this problem projected in greater starkness then the Book of Job and the Oedipus Rex. For the final Book Club discussion of this year, Professor of English Dr. Jeremy Larson will lead a discussion of these two great works. To better understand the similarities and differences in these stories, we will also look at an essay by Catholic philosopher René Girard. For more information and links to suggested readings, see the Library Book Club webpage.

What: Library Book Club
When: March 30, 2023, 12:00 pm
Where: Library Conference Room and Zoom.

*Sphinx & Oedipus, Theoi Project. https://www.theoi.com/Gallery/M18.3.html.

Book Discussion: Noah & Odysseus: Clothing, Custom, Law

 

Princess Nausikaa encounters shipwrecked Odysseus*

In Genesis 9 and Odyssey 6, Noah and Odysseus endure the humiliation of nakedness, from which they are rescued by the prudence of Shem and Japheth in Genesis and the feistiness of the princess Nausikaa in the Odyssey. What can the actions and narrative style of these stories tell us about the cultures of ancient Israel and Greece? Join Professor of Hebrew and Biblical theology Dr. Jordan Jones and the Library Book Club for a discussion of these brief episodes from two of the foundational books of Western Civilization. We will conclude our meeting with a look at Homer’s image of the marriage bed of Odysseus and Penelope as a symbolic tree of life and compare it with the Tree of Life in Genesis and Proverbs. For more information and links to suggested readings, see the Library Book Club webpage.

What: Library Book Club
When: February 24, 2023, 12:00 pm
Where: Library Conference Room and Zoom.

*Alice and Martin Provensen, “Odysseus & Nausicaa,” 1956, in The Iliad and the Odyssey, (Golden Press, 1956) https://www.flickr.com/photos/16472880@N06/3394901226/