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An Uncommon Lectionary – A Companion to Common Lectionaries

Polebridge Press, Santa Rosa, California, 2002
RRP: $31.95

The title of this book certainly reflects its contents – for many this would be a very uncommon lectionary. The readings for this year-long lectionary (included in the book) are from The Didache, The Odes of Solomon, the Q Gospel (a book believed to be source material for the four Gospels in the Bible), and other Gospels and material including The Gospel of Thomas, The Acts of John, The Infancy Gospel of James and The Gospel of Mary, as well as readings from books of the Bible.

The book follows in the tradition of contemporary scholars from “The Jesus Seminar” who have quested to discover more about the historical Jesus and the life of the early church.  Some might think this book more suitable to scholars, the curious or mavericks but used thoughtfully, this lectionary could provide opportunities for exploration and deepening of faith.

The book suggests a number of ways this lectionary could be used – eg. as a fourth year, a replacement for one of Year A, B or C, as additional/supplementary material within the regular three year cycle, or as sermon material.  Eucharistic prayers based on some of the writings are also provided.  The translations use contemporary language, while still keeping to the peculiarities of the material (i.e. readings appear to reflect a desire to maintain the integrity of the message of the original text causing some to be somewhat wordy and unfamiliar in phrasing).  Additional notes are sometimes added for explanation, eg. on a particular translation chosen.

I would encourage leaders to use this book but the teacher in me would add some cautions: I think the use of this material could be a great opportunity for discussion and learning, provided opportunities were also provided for deepening of familiarity and knowledge of the texts of the Bible and exploration of how the Bible came to be as we now know it.

Reviewed by Mel Perkins a student at Trinity Theological College in Brisbane