Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Books of the Year: 2010

This year was a good year for me. I read lots of good books so picking just 5 is tough, but here are the five books that I liked best and learned the most from:

5. James by Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell

I read several good commentaries this year. My favorite was the inaugural volume of the ZECNT series. I'm a big fan of the layout of the series and the quality of the commentary is pretty good too. My understanding of James was greatly enhanced by reading it. (see review here)

4. Old Testament Ethics for the People of God by Christopher Wright

Chris Wright is one of the great synthetic minds among Old Testament scholars. His treatment of ethics was rich, innovative, and Scriptural. I also appreciate that he allows the accents to fall where Scripture lays them. I never felt that he was forcing his argument or that the system overwhelmed specific texts. (see review here)

3. Praying with the Church by Scot McKnight

I read a few books on prayer this year, as it's an area that I need to grow in. What separates this book from other books on prayer is its emphasis on prayer as a means of practicing the communion of the saints both across time and traditions stretching back to the time of Jesus (along the way you get a nice accessible overview of prayer in church history). After reading I was propelled to start using the Book of Common Prayer in my personal devotions which has greatly enriched me.

2. Drama of Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer

I cannot even begin to describe the impact that this book has had on the way I approach and teach Scripture. This is the most challenging book on the list but it's well worth the effort. In his suggestion that Scripture is the script that we are to improvise upon, Vanhoozer avoids a lifeless, literalistic approach to applying Scripture without undermining biblical authority because his 'method' maintains deep roots in Scripture. This book should be required reading in every seminary.

1. Inhabiting the Cruciform God by Michael Gorman

I probably spent more time on this book than any other book I read this year, reading it and rereading and wrestling with Gorman's claims. I definitely came out the other side for the better, and I'll never be the same again (I hope). Gorman has a pastoral heart and it shines through in this book. The first chapter on Philippians 2:5-11 is worth the price of the book. (See review here)


Now for the top 5 books published in 2010 that I hope to read in 2011:

5. 1 Corinthians by Brian Rosner and Roy Ciampa

If you read this blog regularly you know that I love commentaries. Out of all of the commentaries out this year, I am most excited about this one. Thiselton covers the Greco-Roman background of 1 Corinthians beautifully. Rosner and Ciampa should do the same for the Jewish background.

4. On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene by Ernst Kasemann

I gotta say that a big part of what gets me is the title. I love it. The word on the street is that this book is very good. I am intentional about reading books from outside of my theological tradition. I make sure I at least read a few each year. This will be my top choice for 2011.

3. Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson

I have to admit that I've never read a book by Peterson and I've heard a lot of good buzz about this book. Again, I like the title, so I'm hooked.

2. Remythologizing Theology by Kevin Vanhoozer

Vanhoozer is my favorite systematician and this is his first major work of theology (everything else he's written could loosely be logged under 'hermeneutics'). That makes it a must read for me.
1. Constructing Jesus by Dale Allison

This upcoming year I intend to read several books on the historical Jesus, and this will be on the list. His three volume work with W.D. Davies on Matthew is probably my favorite commentary on any book of the Bible and his book on the Sermon on the Mount is largely overlooked but very very good (and more accessible). I think he raised some very important issues in his little book on the historical Jesus from last year. I'm interested to see how he extends those thoughts in a fuller volume.


  1. Good list. I've read little Vanhoozer and none of Gorman's stuff (except sometimes his blog). I mainly just don't have time, but I'd like to fit them in. Of the lists, I think the last one (Allison's book) is the only one I have little interest in reading. Don't know why, it just doesn't spark my interest.

  2. Time is always a problem. I've noticed this year how narrow my reading has been because of time. I didn't read a single work of fiction and no books on Christian living outside of three books on prayer. I just didn't have time! Sigh.

    Have you read much of Allison's work? He's on my short list of people of whom I'll try to read everything they write (of course in the case of NT Wright, that isn't possible), though at this point I've only read the works I linked to in my post (and not all of the Matthew commentary of course!). I don't always agree with him but it's usually pretty hard to find holes in his arguments. He forces you to think hard.

    Are you going to be able to get out a books of the year post with the new baby and all?

  3. I've read some of Allison, not a ton. I think the Matthew commentary is really good. Maybe I'll give him a shot, in another life. =)

    I'll have a book of the year post, though I'm finishing a couple books right now so I want to wait. The hard part this year will be keeping it to 5, which is, admittedly, a rather arbitrary number.