This episode is a conversation with Dr. Ched Spellman of Cedarville University. We discuss reading the Bible canonically (3:00), biblical authors’ compositional strategy and intention (12:58), Revelation as a canonical bookend (23:00), canon-covenant-Christology as biblical theology (32:30), puns and memes (45:00), and more. Buy Ched’s books. Also, checkout his world-famous YouTube channel.
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Daniel Treier of Wheaton College. We discuss sports heroes (3:29), defining evangelical theology (6:16), the Nicene Creed and theological method (9:10); the Ten Commandments as moral formation (12:00), the Lord’s Prayer as spiritual formation (14:16), the Trinitarian shape of theology (19:00), and more. Buy Dan’s books.
It’s become an annual tradition for me and many others to write a post like this. There are a few reasons why I continue to compile this list. First, I love reading and I love to share what I’m reading. Second, I’m also always encouraged by others’ thoughts and their lists often help me pick out a few last books for my Christmas wish list. Third, I get a lot of books from publishers, and while I don’t review or share books I don’t end up liking, I’m always willing to recommend a good book if it is, in fact, good. Fourth, I’m regularly asked by folks what books I’m reading or “what’s a good book to read for X topic?” I think this is primarily because I sometimes share book photos on Facebook.
Anyway, in no particular order, here are my five favorite books that I read in 2019. Check out my 2015 list and 2016 list at my old Patheos blog, and my 2017 list and 2018 list posted here at Biblical Reasoning.
I intentionally read several primary texts every year, always with at least a couple of patristic-era works included. This year I read this one for the first time. While Basil the Great’s On the Holy Spiritis a must-read classic, this work shows in particular the development of Athanasius’s Trinitarian theology as he defends the divinity of the Holy Spirit after Nicaea, while also revealing some of the distinctions in language between Athanasius and Basil. If you want an excellent introduction to patristic exegesis, definitely pick up Craig Carter’s latest, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition.
Judging by the title, you might not want your boss to be aware that you’re reading this. But this isn’t a book about anarchy or revolution or antiauthoritarianism — it’s a book about nurturing creativity and elevating good ideas, using examples from business, sports, parenting, and more. This book helped me to feel more at-home in my own personality, as well as helped me better understand my peers.
Perhaps the most underrated evangelical theologian publishing right now, Treier has written a fantastic introduction to theology that is built around the structure of the Nicene Creed. The first part of the book, which surveys the Creed as method, the Ten Commandments as moral formation, and the Lord’s Prayer as spiritual formation is worth the price of the book by itself. I hope to use this as a textbook sometime in the near future. I interviewed Dan at ETS for Church Grammar, so lookout for his return to the podcast soon.
At the urging of my Doktorvater, I read through this slowly over the last year. These writings reflect a sort of bridge between the New Testament writings and some of our earliest church fathers, such as Irenaeus and Tertullian. My particular favorite is the collection of Ignatius’s letters.
Among the biblical studies books I read this year, Schreiner’s had me the most interested in returning to its pages (with an honorable mention to Carmen Joy Imes’s Bearing God’s Name). In short, Schreiner is a clear writer who tells a compelling story (with robust biblical-theological insights) about Matthew’s role in writing his Gospel for the sake of advancing the story of Jesus.
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Patrick Schreiner of Western Seminary. We discuss the relativity of hipsterdom (2:04), becoming a scholar (3:48), being Tom’s son (11:00), the Kingdom of God (14:20), the ascension (22:20), the Gospel of Matthew (33:50), sportsball (44:22), and more. Buy Patrick’s books.
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Heath Thomas of Oklahoma Baptist University. We discuss becoming a scholar (1:30), the OT as Christian Scripture (4:03), developing a Christian worldview (20:05), his renowned hair (26:53), and more. Buy Heath’s books.
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Richard Bauckham. We discuss becoming a scholar (2:04), early Christology (7:50), the theology of the Book of Revelation (15:10), the testimony of Jesus’s eyewitnesses (24:37), the city of Magdala (37:15), poetry (46:26), and more. Buy Richard’s books.
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Michael Bird of Ridley College. We discuss becoming a scholar (2:00), advice for Ph.D. students (4:35), changing denominations (6:40), his new NT introduction with N. T. Wright (10:15), how to be a scholarly generalist (18:34), his writing style (26:35), the Trinity without hierarchy (27:58), and more. Buy Mike’s books.
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Matthew Emerson of Oklahoma Baptist University. We discuss developing interests in scholarship (2:40), the importance of the biblical canon’s order and shape (9:55), theological method and allegory (18:00), how Jesus influences and clarifies OT exegesis (31:35), Trinitarian theology and method (33:35), renewing Baptist theology (44:33), the legitimacy of Auburn’s football championships (49:40), and more. Buy Matt’s books.
Holy Saturday is like the story of Joseph in prison in the book of Genesis: what Jesus’s brothers and the Gentile authorities meant for evil, God meant for good.
Holy Saturday is like the crossing of the Red Sea in the book of Exodus: Jesus goes before his people through the waters of death, leading them out of bondage and into new life.
Holy Saturday is like the scapegoat in the book of Leviticus: having made atonement for sin at the cross, Jesus also goes outside the camp and into the darkness of Sheol for us and before us.
Holy Saturday is like the the wilderness wanderings in Numbers: like the Spirit led Israel through the trackless wilderness, so Jesus leads us through the valley of the shadow of death.
Holy Saturday is like Deuteronomy: as Israel looked backward at the Exodus and forward to the Conquest, so the descent reminds us of what Jesus has already done to defeat God’s enemies at the cross and looks forward to his final victory in the resurrection.
Holy Saturday is like the Conquest in the book of Joshua: Jesus drives out the giants in the land of the dead, Death and Hades, so that they can no longer tempt and test God’s people.
Holy Saturday is like the book of Judges: Jesus breaks the teeth of our oppressors so that his people have rest, not for 40 or 80 years, but for eternity.
Holy Saturday is like the story of the Ark in the temple of Dagon in Samuel: having been taken by the enemy into the stronghold of the enemy, Jesus destroys the strongman and liberates his people from oppression.
Holy Saturday is like Elijah on Mt. Carmel in Kings: Jesus goes to the throne of the enemy and, through seemingly foolish means, shows that Death has no power; only YHWH-in-the-flesh does.
Holy Saturday is the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:2: “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”
Holy Saturday begins the reversal of the judgment of decreation in Jeremiah 4:23: Jesus enters into the chaotic waters of the void of death and thereby changes it, breaking open its gates and bringing light and life to those who waited for him.
Holy Saturday is like the wheels of fire in Ezekiel: Jesus goes before and with his people into the exile of death, thus reminding them that he and they will return one day to the land of the living.
Holy Saturday is like Jonah’s sojourn in the belly of the fish in the middle of the Book of the Twelve: Israel and the nations are saved through the death, burial, and resurrection of a Hebrew prophet.
Holy Saturday is like the movement from Psalm 22 to Psalm 23: the wise king who has suffered on behalf of his people has lost his life (“nephesh”) and now walks in the valley of the shadow of death, but soon the God of the living will restore his soul (“nephesh”).
Holy Saturday is like God’s speech in Job 41:1-2: Jesus has drawn out the Leviathan, Death, with the fishhook of his humanity, pressing down his tongue with the cord of his perfectly righteous life, putting a rope in his nose with his atoning death, piercing his jaw with his divinity.
Holy Saturday is like the Wise Royal Son in Proverbs: he enters Lady Folly’s house but does not eat her meal. He follows her steps to Sheol but only to bring his people out with him.
Holy Saturday is like the book of Ruth: Jesus, the kinsman redeemer, enters into the famine and darkness of the exile of death and rescues his bride from it, restoring her to the land of the living.
Holy Saturday is like the marriage procession in the Song of Solomon: Jesus comes out of the wilderness of death like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense (3:6), to marry his Bride, the Church.
Holy Saturday is like Ecclesiastes: life is fleeting and death is certain, even for the Son of God…but in dying he has defeated and destroyed Death forever, so fear the LORD and keep his commandments.
Holy Saturday is like Lamentations: the saints who have cried in the valley of the shadow of death, “How long, O Lord?” now see their Redeemer and hope in his impending resurrection, a sign of their own.
Holy Saturday is like the book of Esther: Jesus is not seen or mentioned in the midst of what seem like entirely hopeless circumstances, but he’s still at work for our good.
Holy Saturday is like Daniel in the lion’s den: sealed in the place of darkness and in the presence of all God’s enemies, Jesus is nevertheless in the presence of YHWH and claims victory over those who would seek to destroy him.
Holy Saturday is like the migrations in Ezra-Nehemiah: before God’s people enter their promised rest, Jesus has to lead them from bondage to freedom by crossing through the waters of death in the New Exodus.
Holy Saturday is like the end of Chronicles: Christ’s decree, “It is finished,” has been made, but we wait for the reality of the rebuilt Temple and the restored king in his impending resurrection from the dead.
“I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” -Rev. 1:18
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so may we await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.