Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Books of the Year: 2011

This was the first full year of my daughter's life. Probably unsurprisingly, it also was probably the year I read the least. I still read enough quality, though, to have what I view as a strong list. As always, the rule here is that I must have read (finished) the book in 2011 and have not finished it in a prior year.

5. Women in the Hebrew Bible ed. Alice Bach

This book is a collection of 'greatest hits' of feminist OT scholarship. It was a delight to read. Virtually every article was interesting even if not persuasive. One essay in particular stood out, 'Genesis 22: The Sacrifice of Sarah' by Phyllis Trible. It was one of the two best essays I read all year.

4. One.Life by Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is one of those people who I consider a mentor through their writings. This is a great little book on discipleship for teenagers up through people in their early thirties. I was particularly impacted by the stories he told about his interactions with students. It gave me a model to follow if and when I ever become a professor.

3. Jesus and the Victory of God by N.T. Wright

This book is class Wright. While overdone in places, Wright's analysis is very insightful. It paints a very coherent picture of a Jewish Jesus and has helped me in many cases understand just what the Synoptic writers were trying to convey.

2. Galatians by James Dunn

This is hands down the best commentary on Galatians. Even if you're not a NPP person there's a ton of useful information here, and hey, it may persuade you. It did me.

1. Constructing Jesus by Dale Allison

I've always loved the work of Dale Allison. This book reminded me why. He's so attentive to detail and also integrates data from other disciplines effectively. The sections on human memory were particularly eye opening and his overall approach to historical Jesus studies seem to me to be right on track.

Now for my top 5 books that came out in 2011 that I have not yet had a chance to read but wish to.

5. Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology by John Walton
I loved Lost World of Genesis One (see review), so I think I'll like this book, which is a scholarly treatment of the same material.

4. Justification: Five Views eds. James Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy

If the contributors are strong I really enjoy books that attempt to provide debate on important issues. Justification is a topic of interest for me and I like several of the contributors, especially Michael Horton, Michael Bird, and James Dunn.

3. Proverbs & Ecclesiastes by Daniel Treier

Of the commentaries that came out this year, this is the one I'm most interested in. I took a brief peek at it in the library and found it to be very rich.

2. Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright

I'm always on the lookout for books on Jesus that I can recommend to lay people. I expect that this will probably be at the top of my list.

1. Life After Death by Anthony Thiselton

I'm not too interested in hell, but I am interested in what happens to a believer when they die. I actually think this isn't completely clear in Scripture. In his intro to Paul, Thiselton in passing made a comment that he thinks Paul took what we would now call a 'soul sleep' position. Unfortunately there wasn't much discussion of it. There will be here, I assume. Thiselton also is fairly aged so it'll be interesting to get the perspective of a scholar who is closer to the end of his life than further.


  1. Good list. No Beale & his NT Theology for your 2011 new release list? I just got it for Christmas, but it'll be a bit before I get into it.

    I'm debating about whether or not I'll do a Top 5 list this year. It'll be impossible, since I think I only read 3 books all year. Pretty pathetic, really. But maybe I'll do an abbreviated one.

  2. That's a good one that I overlooked, but I'm still not sure if it'd make my top five or not. I'm very satisfied with Marshall's NT Theology, granted one is never enough. :)

    Hey, I probably only read fifteen books this year and I'm not as busy as you are. It was harder doing a top 5 this year than ever.