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Books of the Year

Since the year is winding down, I thought I would post my top five books that I read for the first time this year and the top five books published in 2009 that I look forward to reading (hopefully in 2010).

5. Reason for God by Tim Keller

I absolutely love Tim Keller, and I absolutely love this book. I found it to be the most helpful work of practical apologetics that I have encountered. Reason for God is both fair and insightful.

4. Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright is always engaging. Surprised by Hope is exceedingly so. This is my favorite of the handful Wright's books that I have read and should be must reading for all in the church. Christianity badly needs to regain the eschatological vision that Bishop Wright presents so that its mission has the necessary fuel and goal.

3. The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard Hays

Now we're getting into books with a more limited audience. Ethics is a particular interest of mine. I personally found Hays method of utilizing the focal lenses of cross, community, and new creation to be a very helpful way to frame the way I think about ethical issues.

2. Church Dogmatics Vol. I.1 by Karl Barth

This is the most difficult book that I have ever read. I spent a whole month reading Barth's volume on the Word of God. Sentences are incredibly long and intricate, the subject matter difficult, and the argumentation deep and at times even opaque. However, reading Barth was very rewarding and its influence very clear. My last series of posts on hermeneutical frameworks show how indebted I am to this book.

1. Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns

The choice between numbers 1 and 2 was difficult. Both of these books have hugely influenced me, but perhaps no book has influenced me more since I moved to Chicago two and a half years ago than Inspiration and Incarnation. I remember the first time I heard Enns explain the incarnational analogy; it blew me away. My faith was greatly bolstered by the way he explained that not only were the human marks of Scripture not a bad thing, they were absolutely necessary if God was to communicate meaningfully to us. I also think he's right on in his suggestion that we read the Bible Christotelically.


Now for the top five books published in 2009 that I haven't read yet but am looking forward to:

5. The Historcial Jesus: Five Views ed. by James Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy

Five of the top scholars on the historical Jesus (Robert Price, John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, James Dunn, and Darryl Bock) debate Jesus identity.

4. The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons

I know sometimes he can be a little off-color, but I love Bill Simmons writing, he expresses himself so vividly and uniquely. And hey, I love basketball and I love comparing and ranking players.

3. Baptism in the Early Church by Everett Ferguson

The baptism debate has intrigued me for some time. Now that my first child is on the way it's time to get my feet wet (pun intended). No book is more comprehensive in looking at the doctrine historically than this one.

2. Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller

I attended the Gospel Coalition conference this past April. One of my favorite talks was Keller's discussion of idolatry. It was so clear and so insightful. I can't wait to read his book length treatment of an issue that plagues us all.

1. The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton

This book could be a game changer in the Evangelical world. I went to a talk that Walton gave where he outlined his argument. I found it very convincing. We need to get past the evolution/creation impasse in a way that still honors the authority of Scripture. This book may be that way.


  1. I've only read 2 of the 10 you've listed: Hays & Simmons. I'm planning on reading both Keller books this year, the Wright book has been in waiting for a long time, and the Ferguson and Walton books are ones I plan on getting to before the end of the world.

    Any reason you didn't put any commentaries on this list?

  2. Good question. One of my criteria for selection for the first list was that I had read the book in its entirety. I've only read one commentary cover to cover this year, Cousar on Philippians and Philemon which was not good enough to make the list.

    If I had included books partially read, then Thiselton on 1 Corinthians in the NIGTC series would have made it (I was studying 1 Cor with some friends at church but we ran out of gas after ch. 6).

    As for the second list, no new commentaries came out with the exception of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentaries on the Old Testament that generated a lot of excitement for me. I weighed putting vol. 1 of that series on my list, but I don't think that there's a high probability of me getting to it in the upcoming year.

    What did you think of Hays book?

  3. I loved Hays' book. I often don't agree with him, as I tend to be more conservative, but he always challenges me. His chapter on pacifism, while it didn't convince me, made me rethink some things. Jeremy Pierce (Parableman) has some major issues with him, if I remember correctly, but I don't think he's ever laid it all before. I'd like to see what he has to say. Anyway, I need to reread Hays, because I've grown in my understanding of Scripture and hermeneutics since I last worked through it.

    As for ZIBBCOT, I just received my second volume of it. Gotta be honest, it's overrated, in my opinion. I'll be writing another post sometime in the next month or so.

  4. I'm not sure that I agree with Hays on everything either as I tend to be a bit more conservative than him too. I found his chapter on abortion to be very personally challenging. I still haven't made up my mind on whether or not I agree with his tendency to avoid political means. I too would like to see what Jeremy has to say.


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