Skip to content

Five Books Meme (Times Two)

June 20, 2009

I have been tagged by Doug concerning Ken Brown’s 5 book meme.

The rules:

1. Name the five books (or scholars) that had the most immediate and
lasting influence on how you read the Bible. Note that these need not
be your five favorite books, or even the five with which you most
strongly agree. Instead, I want to know what five books have permanently changed the way you think.
2. Tag five others.

Let’s see… as usual with memes, I’m going to make a slight modification: I am going to name five books that have affected me for both biblical studies and theology–as separate entities–seeing that I have one foot in the world of biblical studies and one in the world of evangelicalism, and I’m going to ignore the tagging anyone part.

Wait, I take that back: I tag Jim West five times. He has to do the meme now, doesn’t he?

Biblical Studies

5. God’s Word in Human Words by Kenton Sparks: A good argument for a healthy relationship between biblical studies and theology can be found in the pages of this book. Not perfect, but I cannot recommend it highly enough.

4. Windows on the World of Jesus: Time Travel to Ancient Judea by Bruce Malina: This book definitely changed how I understood the social world of the first century. Interesting argument style as it places modern people in first century social situations. Not individuals but community, honor /shame as primary values, etc = significant shift in a modern person’s hermeneutical lens while reading ancient texts.

3. Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee : the Social Context of Jesus and the Rabbis by Richard Horsley: The book that first brought the geographical and ideological distinction between Galilee and Judea to me, amongst other things. Invaluable.

2. How to Read the Bible by James Kugel: Simply put, “THIS IS THE RED PILL OF BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO ENTER THE MATRIX: IGNORE THIS BOOK!!!!!!” The book responsible for creating the awareness for there being two distinct categories in this present reflection. As Kugel puts it: biblical scholars and conservative interpreters are essentially reading two different Bibles (e.g., Mosaic authorship vs. the implications of JEDP).

1. 1 Enoch by George Nickelsburg: What more can be said about Dr. Nickelsburg here that has not been said elsewhere? If I was to have one-tenth of the academic career that he has enjoyed I would consider it a rousing success. He is the mountain that anyone working on Enoch must walk around and consider. I began to investigate Genesis 6:1-6, which led to Bauckham and his WBC commentary on Jude, which led to Nickelsburg and his Hermeneia commentary… and my academic career has never been the same.


5. The Guide for the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides: Some good suggestions for how we talk about God if there is no Messiah. Apodictic theology made me seriously re-consider some elements of my own theological articulations.

4a. Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God by Brennan Manning: In my opinion: Manning’s best work. Some invaluable suggestions on proper God talk.

4b. On Job by Gustavo Gutierrez: Liberation theologian? Check. Brilliant insights and suggestions on how to properly speak of God? Double, triple, and quadruple check!

3. The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis: Could there be other works of his here? Yes. “The Abolition of Man” comes to mind with some of its brilliant observations; however, this small booklet is absolutely packed with some amazing insights on how we consider God,and the language we use in such a pursuit.

2. Theology for the Community of God by Stanley Grenz: My primary reference when I am considering technical theological ideas. As a hermeneutics and theology student I was also deeply influenced by Grenz and Olson’s 20th Century theology.

1. Orthodoxy / The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton: Chesterton writes like I wish I could write, and his observations and the tone he adopts through his works is something I have tried to copy in some of my own theological reflections… without much success. My hope is that one day I could write one paragraph with as much insight and wit that his books are ridiculously jammed full of.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2009 9:42 am

    Finally someone mentioned Chesterton! Thanks for your lists! 😉

  2. June 26, 2009 6:50 pm

    this is a great list Scott – I too have Grenz’s Theology and find myself consulting it more and more. Also, it was because of your reviews I recently got Spark’s book. Now I will have to look into the other books you list.

  3. Linda Hodges permalink
    July 29, 2009 6:31 am

    Anything by Richard A. Horsley, but especially “Jesus and Empire.” Crossan’s “God and Empire.” Spong’s “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” The Jesus Seminar’s “The Five Gospels.” Borg’s “Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time.”


  1. So Many Books, So Little Time « C. Orthodoxy
  2. Biblical Studies Carnival 43, Or, The Apocalypse of Eve « kata ta biblia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: