Studying at Southern Seminary has afforded me the gracious opportunity to read some of the choicest books on the Bible, theology, and Christian ministry. This is a list of my Top Ten Books of 2008, books that I had the opportunity to read this year that I would commend to you for your perusal in 2009. The list is eclectic, and intentionally so, but my hope is that each book would whet your appetite for more of Christ. (The list is in chronological order, but I will say the best is last).
1. Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age by Bill McKibben. The most fascinating book I read all year; not one I would have picked up by myself. Assigned for my Ethics class with Dr. Russell Moore, Enough, written by an unbelieving environmentalist, is a fascinating look at the technologically-advacning world we live in. The book deals with nanotechnology, articificial intelligence, and gene therapy, just to name a few. McKibben goes into painstaking detail to show what science is researching and hoping to create, and from a secular point of view he asks the question, “When will it be enough?” It is a great read, and it will challenge your thinking about what it means to be human.
2. God and Marriage by Geoffrey Bromiley. Before Christian Bookstores were flooded with marriage books, historical theologian, Geoffrey Bromiley, produced a short book that traces marriage through the Bible, shows the Trinitarian-marriage connections, and shows why a good theology of marriage is so important for a healthy marriage. For less than five dollars used, you cannot pass this up.
3. Marriage: Sex in the Service of God by Christopher Ash. Most thorough and rigorously biblical book on marriage today. A must read for any pastor or biblical counselor.
4. Married for God by Christopher Ash. The follow up to Ash’s first book on marriage, this popular level book grounds marriage in biblical theology and then proceeds to practically apply the Bible to today’s marriages. Very readable, and worthwhile for any and all married couples, or those getting ready for marriage.
5. Against Heresies by Irenaeus of Lyons. One of the earliest “biblical theologies” you can find. Irenaeus was a second-century church apologist who read the Bible very well. Challenging, but worthwhile.
6. Last Thing First by J.V. Fesko. An edifying and stimulating look at eschatology (the study of last things) and protology (the study of first things) in Genesis 1-3. It ultimately is a book about Christ, as the alpha and omega. In the spirit of Meredith Kline and William Dumbrell, it shows how God’s plan of redemption begins in the first 3 chapters of Genesis. Very good!
7. The Letter to the Colossians and to Philemon (Pillar Commentary) by Douglas Moo. Moo’s commentary was the most current and most biblical-theological commentary that I found on Colossians. As I preached through the book in September – December, it served me well to see the OT-NT connections that Paul employed in his Christ-centered letter to the church at Colossae.
8. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament edited by D.A. Carson and G.K. Beale. Tremendous resource for preachers who want to pay special attention to inter-canonical connections.
9. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Andreas Kostenberger and Scott Swain. The latest volume in the D.A. Carson edited New Studies in Biblical Theology. Even though this book will be finished in 2009, it is too good to leave off the list. The attention to biblical content and the faithful Trinitarian synthesis is excellent. This is a must have for anyone preaching or teaching in or through the Gospel of John.
10. The ESV Study Bible. The Bible is surely the best and most important book I read all year; and this year the ESV Study Bible is simply the most edition published in 2008, maybe the century–not a hyperbole. Speaking of the notes and articles, I have not read it en toto, but in scanning its contents and contributors, it is clear that this marks the finest evangelical study Bible to date. ( Tim Challies provides a full review; Albert Mohler gives a helpful guide to using study Bibbles). The biggest selling point though in our tech-savvy age, however, is the unbelievable online capabilities that accompany every copy. At The ESV Study Bible website you can listen to the Bible, record your own notes, and hyperlink to every cross-reference. Simply amazing! This a great feature that sets the ESV SB light years ahead of the rest. I pray that this volume will gain a large readership as it will tremedously benefit students of the Bible to read the Scriptures better…
…Which is the hope and prayer of 2009. Of making manny books there is no end, and much study wearies the flesh (Ecc. 12:12), but the Word of God is life-giving and enriching. It points us to Christ and shows our wickedness and desperate need for salvation (cf. John 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:15). So then, let us endeavor to read the Bible more in 2009, and to find books that will help us understand the Scriptures with greater clarity and commitment.
Tomorrow, I will post the 10 books I am most looking forward to in 2009…that I pray will enhance our understanding of and passion for the Bible.
Sola Deo Gloria, dss