The AXIS 1.1 beta is now available for download. Now I've always thought abstraction was good and AXIS pretty much takes the cake with its SOAP over JMS. JMS allowing you to use HTTP, RMI, or whatever as the protocol but giving you things like guaranteed delivery too. I also appreciate the fact that there's a WSDL2Java rather than the other way around (language to WSDL).
AXIS has a recommended reading section that includes a link to the Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Architectures. The debate over the SOAP and REST is well covered in Roots of the REST/SOAP Debate, for example. SOAP vs REST is one of the few topics where I don't have a firm opinion one way or another. If you write applications with SOAP they're just not like the Web it's that simple. The web is all about simplicity and scalability just looks after itself.