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A Christian Guide to the Classics

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We've all heard about the classics and some of us have even read them on our own. But for those of us who remain a bit intimidated or simply want to get more out of our reading, this companion to Crossway's Christian Guides to the Classics series is here to help. In this brief guidebook, popular professor, author, and literary expert Leland Ryken explains what the classics We've all heard about the classics and some of us have even read them on our own. But for those of us who remain a bit intimidated or simply want to get more out of our reading, this companion to Crossway's Christian Guides to the Classics series is here to help. In this brief guidebook, popular professor, author, and literary expert Leland Ryken explains what the classics are, how to read them, and why they're still valuable. Written to help you become a seasoned reader and featuring a list of books to get you started, this guide will give you the tools you need to read and enjoy some of history's greatest literature.


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We've all heard about the classics and some of us have even read them on our own. But for those of us who remain a bit intimidated or simply want to get more out of our reading, this companion to Crossway's Christian Guides to the Classics series is here to help. In this brief guidebook, popular professor, author, and literary expert Leland Ryken explains what the classics We've all heard about the classics and some of us have even read them on our own. But for those of us who remain a bit intimidated or simply want to get more out of our reading, this companion to Crossway's Christian Guides to the Classics series is here to help. In this brief guidebook, popular professor, author, and literary expert Leland Ryken explains what the classics are, how to read them, and why they're still valuable. Written to help you become a seasoned reader and featuring a list of books to get you started, this guide will give you the tools you need to read and enjoy some of history's greatest literature.

30 review for A Christian Guide to the Classics

  1. 4 out of 5

    George P.

    Leland Ryken, A Christian Guide to the Classics (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015). Paperback | Kindle The more I watch television, the more I like books. The reason is not that there are few good television shows these days. On the contrary, television is experiencing something of a Golden Age, especially if you have cable or a streaming service. The reason I like books more is because they have depth and require imagination. An actor must communicate in one take what an author can communicate over se Leland Ryken, A Christian Guide to the Classics (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015). Paperback | Kindle The more I watch television, the more I like books. The reason is not that there are few good television shows these days. On the contrary, television is experiencing something of a Golden Age, especially if you have cable or a streaming service. The reason I like books more is because they have depth and require imagination. An actor must communicate in one take what an author can communicate over several pages. And the visual media makes decisions for you. Read Pride and Prejudice, and you can imagine Mr. Darby looking a number of different ways. Watch Pride and Prejudice (the PBS version preferably), and Mr. Darby will always look like Colin Firth. So, books. But which books? Every reader has a preference, and mine tend to run toward mysteries and thrillers when it comes to pleasure reading. As a religion journalist, my professional reading—which I also enjoy—runs toward theology and ministry. In A Christian Guide to the Classics, Leland Ryken makes a case for what used to be called “the Western canon.” These are the books, essays, stories, and poems that have endured and been considered influential through the ages because of their literary excellence and ability to inspire. They evince different worldviews (pagan, Jewish, Christian, secular) and encompass many genres (history, novels, poems), but they bring people together into a grand, ongoing conversation about life in its manifold variety. The Classics are, by nature, elitist, but they have a capacious elitism, one that can be entered into by any who take them up and read. Ryken doesn’t quote her, but Maya Angelou’s comment that “Shakespeare must be a black girl” is apropos. If a dead white man can express universal human longings that a poor black girl can embrace, then he has written a classic. For Christians, of course, the Bible is the classic to read. As Ryken argues, however, reading the Bible is not an alternative to reading other classics. Rather, it can be read alongside those classics, with the proviso that as Christians, we read the Bible humbly because of its authority over us, whereas we read other classics critically, knowing that they can err and mislead. God’s common grace is such that even in pagan texts that err, aspects of our common humanity come to light and find expression. Ryken’s introduction addresses three questions: the nature of the classics, their value, and how to read them. His answers are workmanlike and analytical. His prose is clear and precise, though not necessarily memorable. The book’s back page contains a list of “Christian Guides to the Classics” that Ryken has penned on The Odyssey, Paradise Lost, Hamlet, The Scarlet Letter and other works. I have not read them, though I’m sure that they would make for helpful companions as you read those books. I have this confidence because I took classes from Prof. Ryken when I matriculated at Wheaton College in the late 1980s. His workmanlike, analytical lectures helped me read literature in a different, better, more Christian way. Reading A Christian Guide was like a welcome return to his classroom, one that has encouraged me to get out my mystery/thriller rut and read the classics. ----- P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Watkins

    The main point of this book is that the classics are good and Christians should read them. I don’t disagree with author there just isn’t a whole lot there besides that.

  3. 5 out of 5

    April Thrush

    I suppose I do not need to keep reading books about books, because I found this one redundant to other books like it I've read! I liked An Experiment in Criticism over this one if you would read any book about reading. However, I liked that a nice list of classics was provided, as well as nice quotes about books! I suppose I do not need to keep reading books about books, because I found this one redundant to other books like it I've read! I liked An Experiment in Criticism over this one if you would read any book about reading. However, I liked that a nice list of classics was provided, as well as nice quotes about books!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Fang

    A wonderful guide book for literature starters like me. Some good suggestions and warnings on reading classics. I would like to recommend it to G8 above students and adults who are interested in this topic. What a pity that there's no Chinese translation. A wonderful guide book for literature starters like me. Some good suggestions and warnings on reading classics. I would like to recommend it to G8 above students and adults who are interested in this topic. What a pity that there's no Chinese translation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Yuri Johnston

    Eager to read classics! To experience the universal of humanity, reading classic books in Christian perspective with the common grace doctrine in mind is drawing closer to Him. Dr. Leland has done endeavor once again!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Definitely a useful resource when comparing which great books to teach, especially from a worldview perspective that is close to mine.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    This is a great little intro to reading the classics as a Christian. I am extremely grateful for Leland Ryken who has authored a number of books on the topic of literature from a professional (he was a Professor of English for more than 45 years) and Christian perspective. This book addresses a number of fundamental questions and ideas such as misconceptions about classics, what is a classic, why should we read the classics, how not read a classic, how to read a classic, what is a Christian clas This is a great little intro to reading the classics as a Christian. I am extremely grateful for Leland Ryken who has authored a number of books on the topic of literature from a professional (he was a Professor of English for more than 45 years) and Christian perspective. This book addresses a number of fundamental questions and ideas such as misconceptions about classics, what is a classic, why should we read the classics, how not read a classic, how to read a classic, what is a Christian classic, what is a secular classic, and speaks about the greatest classic of them all: the Bible. Ryken's passion for the classics and the importance of reading them is contagious. My only complaint is I wish the book would have been longer!

  8. 5 out of 5

    James

    This book is pretty didactic in nature, so it is not always the most entertaining read, but the material is very good and is presented cogently. This is a thin volume that offers a basic "Christian Poetic" (or Christian philosophy of literature). It makes a good starting point for any Christian who reads, studies, or interacts with literature in one way or another. I am already thinking I might use this if I teach literature classes at a Christian school in the future. This book is pretty didactic in nature, so it is not always the most entertaining read, but the material is very good and is presented cogently. This is a thin volume that offers a basic "Christian Poetic" (or Christian philosophy of literature). It makes a good starting point for any Christian who reads, studies, or interacts with literature in one way or another. I am already thinking I might use this if I teach literature classes at a Christian school in the future.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Excellent book. Recently finished. This will help me read literature as much more than a repository from which the authors worldview(s) should be endorsed or criticized.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Ligon

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Prewitt

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Heeb

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nate Claiborne

  14. 4 out of 5

    mark e willey

  15. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wenzel

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Sussex

  18. 5 out of 5

    Josh Smith

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  20. 4 out of 5

    RnRFowler

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cole Andrews

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  23. 5 out of 5

    Casey Blackbird

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

  25. 4 out of 5

    Weston Kimm

  26. 5 out of 5

    Josiah Bennett

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sibusiso Dlamini

  28. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jaquelle Ferris

  30. 4 out of 5

    Juvie Gubat

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