This episode is a conversation with Dr. Carmen Imes of Prairie College. We discuss the Institute for Biblical Research (2:05), YHWH and Sinai (3:00), God’s covenants and the Great Commission (16:43), Gentile inclusion and the “spirit” of the Law (24:58), and practical implications for bearing God’s name (34:50). Buy Carmen’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. Stefana Dan Laing of Beeson Divinity School. We discuss bringing your kids to ETS (2:28), becoming a scholar (6:40), how to understand Christian history (21:10), being a theological librarian (36:12), being a female scholar in evangelicalism (47:20), and more. Buy Stefana’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.
This week, Logos Academic posted this piece by Fuller Seminary’s Joel Green on their blog as a part of the “What Makes a Good Biblical Scholar?” series. It provoked a heated reaction from some corners of the Internet and among certain sections of the biblical studies guild. Here are some of my thoughts on it:
I think it is clear to
those who know Dr. Green’s scholarship that he is using “good” in a particular sense,
namely in relation to the scholar who holds particularly Christian commitments,
beliefs, and orientations toward her or his work. He makes this clear in the
comments. Yes, it would have been helpful to have fronted this comment, but a
good faith reading of an intentionally brief piece in a series of such pieces
understands this, I think.
In other words, Green is
defining “good biblical scholar” with only one possible definition of “good.”
He doesn’t claim that his description is the only possible definition of “good,”
and he clarifies that in the comments. There are other possible ways of defining
“good biblical scholar,” which, I take it, is part of the purpose of the blog
If you’re familiar with
Green’s scholarship, you’ll know that he *does* believe there are other
definitions of “good biblical scholar” from the fact that he engages non-Christian
biblical scholars liberally, critically, and appreciatively.
The real issue I have with
some reactions is not that they ask Green to clarify that he does, in fact,
believe that there are other definitions of “good biblical scholar.” The issue
I have is that some commenters refuse to acknowledge Green’s own definition as
a possible definition. For many biblical scholars, introducing any kind of
faith or devotional element into the practice of biblical studies automatically
voids it of the quality, “scholarly.”
As I and others have said
repeatedly, I do not think many in the biblical studies guild has reckoned
adequately with the epistemological foundations on which it often rests. The
invocation of empiricism and rationalism as somehow automatically superior and
qualitatively different from, say, faith seeking understanding betrays a lack
of critical engagement with one’s own beliefs that these kinds of comments
purport to champion.
In other words, I am not
(and Green is not) “anti-biblical studies,” or unappreciative of the many
excellent, high-level, scholarly contributions of non-Christians to the field,
or claiming a kind of intellectual superiority to those same non-Christian
biblical scholars. But the reverse is often not true.
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Daniel Treier of Wheaton College. We discuss longsuffering sports fandom (2:10), the good and bad of theological interpretation of Scripture (3:30), recovering from a house fire (25:00), handling busyness and productivity (33:20), and more. Buy Dan’s books.
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Lynn Cohick of Denver Seminary. We discuss becoming a scholar (5:30), the present and future of the United Methodist Church (9:40), being a female scholar in evangelicalism (14:15), women in the early church (38:30), and more. Buy Lynn’s books.
Our debut episode is a conversation with Dr. Tom Schreiner of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We discuss parenting (3:50), becoming a scholar (6:30), the development of Pauline scholarship over the past 30 years (8:30), favorite books on Revelation (29:40), what complementarians get right and wrong (35:40), and more. Buy Tom’s books.