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Books of the Year: 2015

Last year I never got around to writing my books of the year post. But it's back this year after a year off! This year, most of my reading covered the church of the first four or five centuries focusing particularly on Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, and Augustine. I did find some time to fit in a few other books as well, some of which are represented.

5. Framing Paul by Douglas Campbell


When you read Campbell you know you are going to get vigorous, well explained, interesting proposals. That certainly is the case here. His discussion of the use of statistics related to style in the determination of authorship is excellent and several of his proposals are very interesting, particularly his identification of Ephesians as the letter to the Laodiceans.

4. Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies eds. Susan Harvey and David Hunter


I came into the year with a minimal background in early Christian studies. This handbook was extremely helpful as I was gaining my bearings. Each essay is very informative and the bibliographies are up to date. It's a must own reference for anyone who wants to learn more about the first five centuries of Christianity.



This was a very nice, helpful book on a difficult topic. Middelton provides an overview of martyrdom in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. He also provides helpful framework for understanding and discussing the modern phenomenon as well.

2. Paul within Judaism  eds. Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm


I love Pauline studies, and it makes me sad that I don't get to read nearly as much as I'd like in this area. I'm very glad that I did get to read this edited volume. The contributions were consistently of a very high caliber and it helped open up a new way to see Paul. I am not completely convinced yet of the Jewish portrait of Paul presented in this volume but it's not one that can be easily dismissed. I look forward to further engagement with this viewpoint when my time eventually frees up.

1. First Principles by Origen


My apologies to all of the Augustine fans out there, but I found Origen to be the most brilliant and enriching figure to engage with from the first five centuries of Christianity. On First Principles is the most systematic presentation of his thought, though it is from an early period, and some of his thinking did develop as he aged.


Now for the books that came out in 2015 that I'm most excited about but haven't read yet.


5. First Isaiah by J.J.M. Roberts


The time was ripe for a full scale critical commentary on First Isaiah and I think J.J.M. Roberts is up to the task. I'm looking forward to picking this volume up sometime soon.

4. The Work of Theology by Stanley Hauerwas


The more I work on writing my theology the more acutely aware I am of how difficult it is, and how difficult it will be to move past the descriptive phase. I am so grateful that a gifted theologian like Hauerwas would write this book at the end of his career.

3. I Still Believe eds. John Byron and Joel Lohr


I definitely am not a fan of devotional/inspirational Christian literature. I don't think this work will fall into the trap of superficiality or sappiness. I have a deep respect for several of the contributors to this volume and I hope it encourages me as I expect some of them have struggled with doubt in similar areas to my own.

2. Becoming the Gospel by Michael Gorman


No single scholar has impacted the way I live more than Michael Gorman. I expect this book to be the fullest expression of Paul's view of the Christian way of life.

1. Paul and the Gift by John Barclay


That this is number one should be a surprise to no one. Barclay is a gifted scholar and I look forward to deepening my understanding of Paul's view of God's grace.

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