Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Notes on Aristotle's "Categories"

Of no use or interest to anyone but myself, here are the notes I took during the past 22 days studying Aristotle's first work, Categories (21 pages), as one of the books on my Lifetime Reading Plan. It is about the various ways in which things can be categorized. It seeks to answer the question, "What are the different ways in which one can classify things and their characteristics?"

Incidentally, I took these notes on Google Docs and found it to be a pleasant alternative to Microsoft Word in some ways. It's faster to start and faster to open a document. You can do  bullets (Ctrl+Shift+L), superscript (Ctrl+.), subscript (Ctrl+,), and tables. You can also print (cleverly, by generating a PDF), insert page breaks, and save as a zipped HTML file (which is what I used for the second half of this blog post).

For all who do not wish to grow bored or drowsy, I advise you to stop reading at this point.

Reading this work was a struggle. Every page made a couple of arguments that were difficult for me to follow. Sometimes I had to puzzle over a paragraph for a half hour before lighting upon a way of interpreting it that made sense. But in the end, I found the arguments to be sound.

There were a few parts that seemed to me to not make sense. For example, he says that triangle and square do not admit of a more or a less; that is, you can't say that one thing is more of a triangle than another, or that a square is more of a circle than a rectangle. But I think that one can come up with mathematical criteria to determine if A is more of a triangle than B, or if A is more of a circle than B. In the case of a circle, we could use the circularity ratio: the ratio of the area of the shape to the area of a circle having the same perimeter.

Another one: he describes relatives as being "called just what they are, of their opposites", and gives the following example: "the double is called just what it is (double) of the half". But double of half isn't double – it's 1. Perhaps this apparent error is due to the challenge of translation from the Greek.

The work as a whole is logical. Categorizing things into substances, quantities, relatives, and qualities seems to be a useful taxonomy. Now, given what seem to be occasional logical flaws such as mentioned above, together with a few exceptional cases that he admits to, the work isn't perfectly systematic. But that's okay – I think that the gist of it is what is useful, and one need not get scrupulously hung up on the fine points that he makes that are difficult to follow. As Aristotle himself says (when speaking of "relatives"),
It is perhaps hard to make firm statements on such questions without having examined them many times. Still, to have gone through the various difficulties is not unprofitable.
If you've read Categories, I'd be curious to hear what you thought of it!

Notes on Aristotle's Categories

1. Homonymous – names(A) ∪ names(B) ∅, definitions(A) ∪ definitions(B) =
Synonymous – names(A) ∪ names(B) ∅, definitions(A) ∪ definitions(B)
Paronymous – name(A) is derived from name(B)

2. said of a subject not said of a subject
in a subject e.g., knowledge (in the soul) e.g., knowledge-of-grammar
not in a subject secondary substances
(i.e., species and genera)
e.g., man
primary substances
e.g., Jon

3. If A is predicated of B, and B is predicated of C, then A is predicated of C.

If G1 and G2 are coordinate genera, then G1's differentiae will be different in kind from G2's differentiae.

If G1 is superordinate to G2, then G1's differentiae will be a subset of G2's differentiae.

5. Substance – Things which are not in a subject
  • A ∍ A1 ⇒ name(A) ∍ A1, definition(A) ∍ A1
  • b ← A1 ⇒ name(b) ∌ A1 [often], definition(b) ∌ A1
  • If the primary substances did not exist, nothing else would exist
  • Species is more a substance than genus
  • Things are called synonymously from substances
  • A primary substance is a "this"; a secondary substance is not
  • Contrariety: No
  • More/less? No
  • Distinguished by ability to be described by opposing contraries at different times
  • Differentia - Characteristics distinguishing species
    • Examples: footed, two-footed
    • D ∍ S ⇒ definition(D) ∍ S
    • Things are called synonymously from them

6. Quantity
  • Kinds
    • Discrete, e.g., number, language
    • Continuous. e.g., lines, surfaces, bodies, time, place
    • Composed of parts with spatial positions, e.g, parts of a line, parts of a plane, parts of a solid, parts of a place
    • Composed of parts without spatial positions, e.g., number, time, language
  • Derivative quantities, e.g., large amount of white (surface), long action (time)
  • Contrariety: No
  • More/less: No
  • Distinguished by equality and inequality

7. Relative – r is a relative ⇐ ∀ instance a compatible with r, we can give an instance b for which a is in relation r to b
  • Kinds
    • state, e.g., virtue, vice, slave, master, larger, smaller, double, half
    • condition
    • perception, e.g., perception, perceptible
    • knowledge, e.g., knowledge, knowable
    • position, e.g., lying, standing, sitting
  • Contrariety: In some cases
  • More/less: Yes
  • Correlatives reciprocate
  • Properly given correlatives describe only the relationship
  • In most cases, correlatives are simultaneous in nature
  • Substances are not relatives

8. Quality – Adjective describing a characteristic
  • Kinds
    • State – Durable characteristic that is subject to change, e.g., knowledge, justice, temperance. Subset of condition.
      • Condition – Characteristic that is subject to change (typically short lived), e.g., hotness, chill, sickness, health
    • Natural capacity/incapacity – Innate characteristic, e.g., boxer, runner, healthy, sickly, hard, soft
    • Affective quality – Characteristic that affects something (e.g., the senses), or is effected by something durable, e.g., madness, irascibility, sweetness, bitterness, sourness, hotness, coldness, paleness, darkness
      • Affection – 1. Characteristic that is effected by something short lived. Not considered a quality, e.g., bad tempered in time of distress, reddening through shame, paling in fright. 2. The affecting of one thing by another.
    • Shape – The external form, e.g., triangle, square, straight, curved
      • More/less? No
  • Qualification – Noun form of quality (adjective), e.g., justice, injustice, whiteness, blackness, redness, yellowness.
    • Contrariety? In some cases
    • More/less? In some cases
  • Distinguished by being the basis on which things are said to be similar

9. Where, e.g., in the Lyceum, in the marketplace

When, e.g., yesterday, last year


Doing and being-affected, e.g., heating, cooling, pleasing, paining, cutting, burning
  • Contrariety? Yes
  • More/less? Yes

10. Opposition
  • Relatives
    • Spoken as "the a of the b"
    • e.g., double and half
  • Contraries
    • If the presence of either contrary is (is not) required of all subjects, then intermediates do not (do) exist.
    • e.g., good and bad, sickness and health, odd and even, just and unjust, black and white, hot and cold, excess and deficiency.
    • The opposite of a bad contrary is good in most cases, but not all
    • One contrary may exist without the other
    • ∀ genus or species to which a contrary belongs, the other contrary will belong also
    • Contraries must be genera, in opposite genera, or in the same genus
  • Privation and possession.
    • Applicable when possession is normative.
    • e.g., blindness and sight, toothlessness and toothedness, hairiness and baldness.
  • Affirmation and negation.
    • Distinguished by one being true and the other false.
    • e.g., Socrates is sitting and Socrates is not sitting, Socrates is sick and Socrates is not sick

12. Prior
  • In time. e.g., younger, older
  • In unidirectional correlation: one, two
  • In order: demonstrative sciences, grammar, speeches
  • In priority: friends, strangers
  • In bidirectional correlation: existence of a man, the statement "the man exists"

13. Simultaneity
  • Simultaneous – created at the same time.
  • Simultaneous by nature – noncausal bidirectional correlation, e.g, double and half, coordinate species of the same genus

14. Change
  • Generation
  • Destruction
  • Increase
  • Diminution
  • Alteration
  • Change of place

15. Having
  • A quality, e.g., knowledge, virtue
  • A quantity, e.g., a height of 5'
  • A thing on the body (e.g., cloak, tunic, armour) or on a part (e.g., ring, shoes)
  • In a container, e.g., measure of wheat, jar of wine
  • A spouse, e.g., husband, wife
  • A possession, e.g., house, field

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Choosing a tabletop globe

I've added a globe to my wishlist. We used to own one, but we gave it away a few years ago, which is unfortunate as they're a little pricey. There have been many times when I wished I had a globe at hand to look up the countries in a region of the world.

Replogle Franklin globe
Franklin globe, from Replogle's website

Replogle's globes dominate the market. I think I'll go with their Franklin model show above, which is in the middle price range ($40). I like the antique look, compared to the standard Explorer. Having clearly marked country boundaries is important to me; this is not the case on the more expensive Atlantis, which focuses more on physical features.

Do you have a globe at home? What kind?

Order in which to read Shakespeare's works

This is a lovely long blog post containing interesting suggestions on the order in which to read the works of Shakespeare:

An Overview of Shakespeare’s Work and a Few Words of Advice for the New Reader

Tuesday, April 28, 2009



I'm not sure if this is a wombat or a capybara. I'm also not sure whom to credit this photo to. But it had to be shared.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Reading Queue: Full

We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions - of the world -

Summa Theologica arrived in the mail

Now all I need is time to read this thing...

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Found Poetry

A neighbor's son is shouting this outside. It sounds lovely, like poetry:

I hear you, Mya
Mya, Mya
Look at your
In the backyard

15 days until the British Columbia election day

It's election time in British Columbia, so I've created a site devoted to discussing the candidates in my electoral district (Victoria-Swan Lake). I'm trying to get the word out about it, so that my fellow Victorians can join in the discussions.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Naming

Good naming is the key to good design. Here is the best discussion of naming (in programming) that I have ever come across. It comes from a 1996 book called Smalltalk With Style. The authors have generously made their book freely available.

It takes a while to download, so here are the good bits (20 images). I'm a fan of Guideline 11: "Use predicate clauses or adjectives for Boolean objects or states". For example, motorRunning is a great name for a boolean field.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

BookFinder - useful new/used-book price-comparison site (factors in shipping cost)

Thanks to a tip from IslandBookworm, I have discovered BookFinder as an excellent way to do comparison shopping for new and used books. You give it a title, author, or isbn, and it will check the prices on Amazon, AbeBooks, Alibris, Barnes and Noble, etc.

The great thing about it is that the price comparison factors in (1) shipping costs (2) destination country (3) your currency. I've used it in the past couple of days to find books at, Marketplace, AbeBooks, and In some cases I can get a book I want for under $10 *including shipping*, which is pretty good for Canada.

(Note that the cheapest way to get a copy of the 5-volume Summa Theologica is currently to buy it in paperback at Marketplace (hard-to-find link)) – $84 USD including shipping to the US, $112 CDN including shipping to Canada.)

Choosing the order in which to read the books of the bible, based on reference counting in the Summa Theologica

For people trying to decide the order in which to read the books of the Bible, one ordering is suggested by the number of biblical references in St. Thomas Aquinas's 3020-page Summa Theologica. It seems like a reasonable order in which to approach the Bible:

NT: Matthew – 809 references
NT: Romans – 679 references
OT: Psalms – 612 references
NT: John – 600 references
NT: 1 Corinthians – 595 references
NT: Luke – 416 references
NT: Hebrews – 301 references
OT: Isaiah – 293 references
OT: Genesis – 290 references
OT: Deuteronomy – 265 references
OT: Ecclesiasticus – 243 references
OT: Proverbs – 238 references
OT: Exodus – 225 references
NT: Ephesians – 208 references
OT: Wisdom – 192 references
NT: 2 Corinthians – 183 references
NT: Galatians – 171 references
OT: Job – 165 references
NT: Acts – 149 references
NT: 1 Timothy – 136 references
OT: Leviticus – 123 references
NT: Revelation – 107 references
OT: Jeremiah – 102 references
NT: James – 102 references
NT: Mark – 98 references
NT: 1 John – 98 references
NT: Philippians – 87 references
NT: Colossians – 85 references
OT: Ecclesiastes – 80 references
OT: Ezekiel – 79 references
OT: Numbers – 76 references
OT: Daniel – 66 references
NT: 1 Peter – 48 references
NT: 2 Timothy – 45 references
OT: Hosea – 36 references
OT: 1 Samuel – 36 references
NT: 2 Peter – 33 references
OT: 1 Kings – 32 references
NT: Titus – 31 references
NT: 1 Thessalonians – 31 references
OT: 2 Kings – 28 references
OT: Zechariah – 20 references
OT: Malachi – 20 references
NT: 2 Thessalonians – 20 references
OT: 2 Maccabees – 19 references
OT: Song of Songs – 18 references
OT: 2 Samuel – 17 references
OT: Tobit – 16 references
OT: Amos – 14 references
OT: 2 Chronicles – 14 references
OT: Judges – 13 references
OT: Micah – 12 references
OT: Lamentations – 12 references
OT: Joel – 12 references
OT: Joshua – 9 references
OT: Jonah – 9 references
OT: 1 Maccabees – 7 references
OT: Nahum – 6 references
OT: Judith – 6 references
OT: Esther – 4 references
OT: Baruch – 4 references
NT: Jude – 3 references
OT: Ruth – 2 references
OT: Habakkuk – 2 references
OT: Ezra – 2 references
NT: 2 John – 2 references
OT: 1 Chronicles – 2 references
NT: Philemon – 1 reference
OT: Haggai – 0 references
OT: Nehemiah – 0 references
NT: 3 John – 0 references
OT: Obadiah – 0 references
OT: Zephaniah – 0 references

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Best Epic Translations: Lattimore (Iliad), Fagles (Odyssey), Fitzgerald (Aeneid), Pinsky (Inferno), Merwin (Purgatorio), Mandelbaum (Paradiso)

I've been scouring the web for people's opinions on the best translations of the greatest epics: Homer's Odyssey, Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid, and Dante's Divina Commedia.

After spending a few enjoyable hours comparing reviews, I'd say that the following translations are generally recognized to be the best ones:

IliadHomer's Iliad, translated by Richmond Lattimore (1951). Close race between Lattimore and Fagles (1990).
Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilleus
and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians,
hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls...
OdysseyHomer's Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles (1999). Another close race with Lattimore (1965).
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy...
AeneidVirgil's Aeneid, translated by Robert Fitzgerald (1981). Closely followed by Allen Mandelbaum's 1971 translation. (Sarah Ruden's 2008 translation is also intriguing.)
I sing of warfare and a man at war.
From the sea-coast of Troy in early days
He came to Italy by destiny...
InfernoDante's Inferno, translated by Robert Pinsky (1995). Widely regarded as superior.
Midway on our life's journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost. To tell
About those woods is hard -- so tangled and rough...
PurgatorioDante's Purgatorio, translated by W.S. Merwin (2000).
To course on better waters the little
boat of my wit, that leaves behind her
so cruel a sea, now raises her sails...
ParadisoDante's Paradiso, translated by Allen Mandelbaum (1982).
The glory of the One who moves all things
permeates the universe and glows
in one part more and in another less...

Those quotations give me goosebumps.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Constrained Cooking #2: Pizza Rice

Continuing our theme of microwave cooking with limited ingredients, suppose that you have a nice slab of cheese but no bread. You also have tomato sauce and rice. What could be better than combining the three ingredients, heating, and seeing what comes out?

Pizza Rice

I call it "pizza rice" because it kind of tastes like pizza.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cereal with no milk, cheese with no bread

Suppose that you have a box of delicious Life Toasted Cinnamon cereal, but you have run out of milk. Suppose further that your fallback meal of cheese and toast is unworkable for lack of bread.

In the midst of your despair,

you have a brilliant idea . . .

Life Cereal (Toasted Cinnamon) with melted mild cheddar

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Using grep and uniq to determine the influence of Aristotle on Aquinas

In preparing for my future goal of reading Aquinas's 3020-page Summa Theologiae, I wanted to know which works of Aristotle to tackle as background reading. Aristotle was a major influence on Aquinas's work – but which books of Aristotle's?

I did some rudimentary parsing of the Summa, basically looking for the following pattern: "Philosopher...([name of book]...)" (Aquinas refers to Aristotle as the Philosopher), and came up with the following data:

Approximate number of references to Aristotle's works, in the Summa Theologiae
Nicomachean Ethics91653%10*18**
On the Soul1599%7*10**
Generation of Animals402%1**
On the Heavens211%1*10**
On Memory141%
On Interpretation131%2*3**
Posterior Analytics131%7*1**
On Sleep111%2**
History of Animals60%
Parts of Animals40%
Sophistical Refutations20%1**
Movement of Animals20%1**
De Causis20%
Great Ethics10%
On Virtues and Vices10%
On Breath10%
On Generation and Corruption10%3**
Prior Analytics10%1*
Eudemian Ethics30%1*1**
*Number of index references in The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas
**Number of index references in Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation (McDermott), which also lists one reference for each of the following works of Plato: Alcibiades, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Timaeus

So it would seem that for someone interested in reading the Summa, it would be beneficial to first read Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and perhaps also On The Soul, Metaphysics, Rhetoric, Physics, and Politics. Note that some of these also have recommended prerequisites, as detailed in this helpful Amazon review.

Two professors give their picks for the Great Books

For fans of the Great Books, this is a fascinating radio interview in which two professors discuss their lifetime reading lists – Plato, Aristotle, Dante, Shakespeare, etc.

Monday, April 06, 2009

New Favorite Cereal: Life Toasted Cinnamon

Below is pictured my new favorite cereal: Life, Toasted Cinnamon flavor. It tastes great and, being Life, is probably a bit healthier than Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

What do you like to eat in the morning?

Life Toasted Cinnamon Cereal

Sunday, April 05, 2009

For Reading Fiction: Handy Summary of the Elements of Character, Plot, Setting, etc.

For anyone who is trying to read fiction attentively, here is the best one-page summary of the elements of fiction – Character, Plot, Setting, and others – by Dr. Marilyn H. Stauffer of the University of South Florida.

If all you need is a quick refresher, then print out that page and save yourself from having to spend $85 on a textbook like Perrine's Literature.


Character Dynamic Static
Round Considered the best type of character development. Usually the protagonist. Development is considered well-done. Often found in protagonists in books for younger children.
Flat Characters cannot be dynamic and flat, because in a flat character we do not know enough about them for them to recognize a change. If a flat character seems to change, it is usually due to poor writing. In very simple books, or in fairy tales, the protagonist may be flat and static. Also appropriate for minor characters in other books.

I had to dig deep into the November 2007 archives of the Wayback Machine to find the original copy of this page.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

1-line descriptions of the 73 books of the Bible (extracted from Wikipedia)

Below is a list of one-line summaries of each book in the Bible, as an aid to people trying to decide which of the books to read next. Descriptions are extracted from Wikipedia.

I have also given the number of pages of each book, for people like me who want to start with the shortest ones!

  • Genesis. (39 pages) It contains biblical stories from the creation of the world to the descent of the children of Israel into Egypt, and some of the best-known biblical stories, including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, and the biblical Patriarchs.
  • Exodus. (33 pages) It tells how Moses leads the Hebrews out of Egypt and through the wilderness to the Mountain of God Sinai.
  • Leviticus. (23 pages) Contains laws and priestly rituals.
  • Numbers. (33 pages) The numbering of the people of Sinai, and their journey from Sinai to Moab.
  • Deuteronomy. (30 pages) It is a set of three sermons delivered by Moses reviewing the previous forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Its central element is a detailed law-code by which the Children of Israel are to live in the Promised Land.
  • Joshua. (19 pages) The history of Israel from the possession of the Promised Land (Moses) to the Babylonian Captivity (Joshua).
  • Judges. (20 pages) The history of Biblical judges, who helped rule and guide the ancient Israelites, ending with Samson.
  • Ruth. (3 pages) Story of Ruth, daughter-in-law of Naomi.
  • 1 Samuel. (25 pages) Samuel, Saul, and David.
  • 2 Samuel. (22 pages) David's reign.
  • 1 Kings. (25 pages) Kings of the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, from the accession of Solomon until the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.
  • 2 Kings. (24 pages) See above.
  • 1 Chronicles. (22 pages) Genealogies, and a history of David's reign.
  • 2 Chronicles. (27 pages) King Solomon, and the kings of Judah, to the time of the Babylonian exile.
  • Ezra. (8 pages) The history of the first and second return of exiles.
  • Nehemiah. (11 pages) An account of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and of the state of religion among the Jews during this time.
  • Tobit. (9 pages) This book tells the story of a righteous Israelite named Tobit living in Nineveh after the deportation of the northern tribes of Israel to Assyria. He was particularly noted for his diligence in attempting to provide proper burials for fallen Israelites who had been slain by Sennacherib.
  • Judith. (12 pages) The story revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from their foreign conquerors. Gaining the trust of the Assyrian leader, she is allowed access to his tent one night and decapitates him, saving Israel.
  • Esther. (9 pages) It tells a story of palace intrigue and genocide thwarted by a Jewish queen of Persia.
  • Job. (26 pages) It relates the story of Job, his trials at the hands of Satan, his theological discussions with friends on the origins and nature of his suffering, and finally a response from God.
  • Psalms. (68 pages) The Book of Psalms consists of 150 psalms, each of which constitutes a religious song.
  • Proverbs. (22 pages) A collection of ethical teachings, attributed to King Solomon.
  • Ecclesiastes. (6 pages) The work consists of personal or autobiographic matter, at times expressed in aphorisms and maxims illuminated in terse paragraphs with reflections on the meaning of life and the best way of life. The work emphatically proclaims all the actions of man to be inherently vain.
  • Song of Solomon. (5 pages) The main characters of the Song are simply a woman and a man, and the poem suggests movement from courtship to consummation.
  • Wisdom of Solomon. (16 pages) The Book of Wisdom offers the traditional and pious philosophy that trust and fear of God provide the path to redemption.
  • Sirach. (43 pages) The Book of Ben Sira is a collection of ethical teachings, closely resembling Proverbs.
  • Isaiah. (52 pages) In the first 39 chapters, Isaiah prophesies doom for a sinful Judah and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. The last 27 chapters prophesy the restoration of the nation of Israel.
  • Jeremiah. (50 pages) Records the words and events surrounding the life of the Jewish prophet Jeremiah who lived at the time of the destruction of Solomon's Temple during the fall of the Kingdom of Judah at the hands of Babylonia.
  • Lamentations of Jeremiah. (6 pages) The book consists of five separate poems. Laments the ruin and desolation that had come upon the city and temple.
  • Baruch. (6 pages) During the Diaspora the Jews lamented their lapse into idolatry, and their repentance is captured in the Book of Baruch.
  • Ezekiel. (41 pages) Visions, judgments, and laments of the prophet Ezekiel.
  • Daniel. (18 pages) Court stories of Daniel and his friends, and his interpretations of royal dreams and visions.
  • Hosea. (9 pages) Hosea is believed to be the first prophet to use marriage as a metaphor of the covenant between God and Israel, and he influenced latter prophets such as Jeremiah.
  • Joel. (4 pages) A prophecy of a great public calamity then impending over the land, consisting of a want of water and an extraordinary plague of locusts.
  • Amos. (7 pages) God speaks to Amos, a farmer and herder, and tells him to go to Samaria, the capital of the Northern kingdom. Through Amos, God tells the people that he is going to judge Israel for its sins, and it will be a foreign nation that will enact his judgment.
  • Obadiah. (2 pages) Foretells total destruction in the land of Edom at the hand of the Lord.
  • Jonah. (2 pages) The story of a reluctant prophet who arguably becomes one of the most effective prophets in the entire Bible.
  • Micah. (5 pages) Oracles of judgment and of hope.
  • Nahum. (3 pages) The subject of this prophecy is the approaching complete and final destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the great and at that time flourishing Assyrian empire.
  • Habakkuk. (3 pages) A dialogue between God and the prophet. "The just shall live by faith."
  • Zephaniah. (3 pages) The coming judgment on Judah and on Israel's enemies.
  • Haggai. (2 pages) The prophet urges the people to proceed with the rebuilding of the second Jerusalem temple after the return of the deportees.
  • Zechariah. (7 pages) Visions about the history of Israel, followed by oracles of the future.
  • Malachi. (2 pages) The first part inveighs against the priests and the people; the second part contains a discourse full of promise.
  • 1 Maccabees. (25 pages) It tells how the Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempted to suppress the practice of basic Jewish religious law, resulting in a Jewish revolt against Seleucid rule.
  • 2 Maccabees. (17 pages) Focuses on the Jews' revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the work.
  • Matthew. (29 pages) Of the four canonical gospels, Matthew is most closely aligned with first century Judaism.
  • Mark. (18 pages) A swift narrative, concentrating particularly on the last week of Jesus' life.
  • Luke. (30 pages) Certain popular stories, such as the prodigal son and the good Samaritan, are found only in this gospel.
  • John. (22 pages) Of the four gospels, John presents the highest Christology, describing Jesus as the Logos.
  • Acts of the Apostles. (26 pages) Acts tells the story of the Apostolic Age of the Early Christian church, with particular emphasis on the ministry of the Twelve Apostles and of Paul of Tarsus.
  • Romans. (12 pages) Paul wishes to impart to the Roman readers encouragement and assurance in all that God has freely given them.
  • 1 Corinthians. (22 pages) Paul wrote this letter to correct what he saw as erroneous views in the Corinthian church. This epistle contains some of the best-known phrases in the New Testament, including "all things to all men", "without love, I am nothing", "through a glass, darkly", and "when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child".
  • 2 Corinthians. (7 pages) Reassures the people of Corinth that they will not have another painful visit, but that what he has to say is about the love he has for them.
  • Galatians. (4 pages) It is principally concerned with the controversy surrounding Gentile Christians and the Mosaic Law within early Christianity. Along with the Epistle to the Romans, it is the most theologically significant of the Pauline epistles.
  • Ephesians. (4 pages) Paul addressed issues appropriate to the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds present in the community. Ephesians is also notable for its treatment of women.
  • Philippians. (3 pages) The church at Philippi was very attached to Paul, just as he was very fond of them. Of all the churches, their contributions (which Paul gratefully acknowledges) are among the only he accepts.
  • Colossians. (3 pages) Members of the Colossian congregation had incorporated pagan elements into their practice, including worship of elemental spirits. Paul declares Christ's supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives.
  • 1 Thessalonians. (3 pages) Likely the first of Paul's letters. Important misunderstandings existed concerning his teaching of Christianity. Paul devotes part of the letter to correcting these errors, and exhorts the Thessalonians to purity of life.
  • 2 Thessalonians. (2 pages) Some of the Thessalonicans grew concerned over whether those who had died would share in the parousia. This letter was written in response to this concern.
  • 1 Timothy. (3 pages) Counsels to Paul's younger colleague regarding his ministry in Ephesus, including instructions on the forms of worship and organization of the Church.
  • 2 Timothy. (2 pages) Paul anticipates his death and exhorts Timothy to all diligence and steadfastness in the face of false teachings, with advice about combating them, remaining patient under persecution.
  • Titus. (2 pages) Its purpose is to describe the requirements and duties of elders and bishops.
  • Philemon. (1 page) The epistle is the most important early Christian writing dealing with forgiveness.
  • Hebrews. (9 pages) Letter to Jewish Christians. Contains many Old Testament references. A consciously "literary" document, noted for the purity of its Greek.
  • James. (3 pages) Framed within an overall theme of patient perseverance during trials and temptations, the text condemns various sins and calls on Christians to be patient while awaiting the Second Coming.
  • 1 Peter. (3 pages) The letter is addressed to various churches in Asia Minor suffering religious persecution. Contains the teaching of "the gospel preached even to the dead".
  • 2 Peter. (2 pages) Peter criticizes "false teachers" who distort the authentic, apostolic tradition, and predicts judgement for them. He calls on Christians to wait patiently for the parousia and to study scripture.
  • 1 John. (3 pages) A sermon written to counter heresies that Jesus did not come "in the flesh," but only as a spirit. It also defines how Christians are to discern true teachers.
  • 2 John. (1 page) The shortest book in the Bible. Warns against paying heed to those who say that Jesus was not a flesh-and-blood figure.
  • 3 John. (1 page) The second shortest book in the Bible. The purpose of the letter is to encourage and strengthen Caius, and to warn him against the party headed by Diotrephes, who refuses to cooperate with the presbyteros who is writing.
  • Jude. (1 page) It was composed as an encyclical letter—that is, one not directed to the members of one church in particular, but intended rather to be circulated and read in all churches.
  • Revelation. (13 pages) It is the only biblical book that is wholly composed of apocalyptic literature. Revelation is considered by some to be one of the most controversial and difficult books of the Bible, with many diverse interpretations of the meanings of the various names and events in the account.