First I want to express thanks to all those who have sent notes expressing a desire for new editions of my blog. I am pleasantly surprised in fact by the number of those I have received. I have needed a break actually as I continue to reorient my life. Two years ago Hell rather than Christmas arrived. Today my life looks so different than it did then. Second I get requests for book recommendations frequently so I offer a few for the Christmas season ... here are some great quotes on reading ...
The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce
Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~Author Unknown
A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958
If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions. ~Author Unknown
These books cover a variety of aspects of life under the Son. Perhaps they will help us understand (or exegete) our world a little more and give us greater sensitivity to the unending message of God's steadfast love in the Scriptures. I have chosen to list works that are not that difficult to read and yet thoughtful and reflective of deep thinking on the matter under consideration.
The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament to some)
Christopher J. H. Wright's Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (IVP) is an outstanding book. Wright actually uses the Gospels (especially Matthew) to demonstrate how the New Testament pictures are thoroughly rooted in the "OT" story, promise, and mission. I would love to get this book into the hands and then the minds of all students of the word. We just might be surprised not only how "Old Testament" Jesus is but how "Old Testament" the "New Testament" is. This is a book that can be read with great profit by ministers, elders, teachers and anyone that wants to understand the Christian faith better.
John Walton over the last few years has published a couple of very important books. His newest book, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (IVP) is quite simply the best book I have ever read on Genesis one. Walton immerses Genesis one completely in its ancient near eastern context ... in a remarkably readable way. Drawing on the "cosmic temple" cosmology that pervaded the near east he demonstrates beautifully how an Israelite would have heard Genesis one. This book of less than 200 pages deserves the book of the year award for 2009.
Scot McKnight's A Community Called Atonement is a lively and creative look at the cross or atonement. McKnight argues against the frequent reductionism of the past by embracing the wealth of NT metaphors. His golf club illustration is memorable and communicates clearly. Refreshingly atonement is about community, God's Community. Our mission, our task is rooted in atonement. Chapter 19 of this small volume focuses on baptism, Lord's Supper and prayer are needed in the wider evangelical community.
We all know N. T. Wright is probably the world's most influential NT scholar but his Christians at the Cross, Finding Hope in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection oCf Jesus reveals him not only as a man of deep faith but one who moves from the ancient world of the NT to applying its message to postmodernity with felicity. This is a collection of 8 sermons Wright delivered during "holy week" in 2007 in Easington Colliery in the Northeast of England. I was blessed, you will be too.
Wrestling with Faith
Christopher J. H. Wright's The God i Don't Understand is a faith filled meaty book. This small book is divided into four sections of questions that Wright and many other folks through the years have struggled with: What about Evil & Suffering?; What about the Canaanites?: What about the Cross?; and What about the End of the World? Who has not had someone after reading the book of Joshua not ask some questions? Wright's discussion in What about the End of the World is wonderful. He offers a loving yet trenchant critique of dispensational premillennialism as embraced by many in the Left Behind series ... but Wright is not so interested in polemics as he is in getting at the teaching of the Bible. His exposition of the new heavens & new earth are worth listening too. You will be blessed by reflecting on the God i Don't Understand ... we are not called to exactly understand everything but to have faith. We praise him ...
Though my name (not alone though, following John Mark Hicks and Johnny Melton on GP) appears on both the next works I believe they have something to offer to the fellowship of believers. Kingdom Come: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding I believe plugs us into a vibrant kingdom theology that makes for exhilarating Christian living. A Gathered People: Revisioning the Assembly as Transforming Encounter presents a methodology for thinking about Christian subjects in a wider biblical context illustrating this through the idea of God's Gathered People in corporate worship. I'm prejudiced but I think it is worth reading.
American History/Christianity in America
Cormac O'Brien has blessed us with The Forgotten History of America: Little-Known Conflicts of Lasting Importance from the Earliest Colonists to the Eve of the Revolution. Lavishly illustrated with period artwork, O'Brien is a very talented storyteller. O'Brien firmly believes that the history prior to 1776 is just as significant for the identity of our nation. How many know the story of Panfilo de Narvaez or are conscious that St. Augustine was half a century old by the time Pilgrims set sail or the story of Anne Hutchinson or King Philips War. Throughout O'Brien asks us to reflect on how things could have been different. Not everyone will agree with his perspective that comes out (I don't) yet the work will help us remember. A very good and enjoyable book.
Richard T. Hughes formerly of Abilene Christian University, Pepperdine and now Messiah College has become recognized as a leading historian on the America and the deeply difficult question of Christian American and Christianity in America. His latest book, Christian America and the Kingdom of God is a work that does not settle for platitudes or easy answers. It is the work of a person deeply "infected" with Christian faith in the Scriptures and one who has reflected on the matter deeply. I can't help but believe serious reflection on this book can help America be a better nation and help Christians be better Christians.
Many other works could be recommended. But I wanted to include a variety from works that have encouraged or challenged me. I hope if you are looking for a book for someone ... consider one or more of these.
See you soon ...