Books I Recommend

A meme via Jim (see the list of contributors here).  Here are 10 books that I regularly recommend to people, with a focus on stuff published relatively recently.

Pauline Studies:  David Horrell’s Solidarity and Difference: A Contemporary Reading of Paul’s Ethics   Deeply impressive and insightful, bringing Paul into dialogue with contemporary ethical debate (Habermas v. Hauerwas).  Key to the book’s appeal, however, is Horrell’s skill as an exegete: a model of NT scholarship.

Commentary: Luz on Matthew.  I just love this commentary, wirkungsgeschichte and all.  I can’t wait to purchase the new version of Volume 1 (in the Hermeneia series) to replace my old T & T Clark edition.

On Bonhoeffer: Stephen Plant’s introductory book in the Outstanding Christian Thinkers series, not least because of its focus on Bonhoeffer as a Biblical theologian and on the Ethics (the focus of Plant’s still unpublished doctoral dissertation).

By Bonhoeffer: the DBW Volume 6, Ethics.  Crucial for understanding a still oft-misunderstood theologian.

Theology: Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust. This is what happens when a real theologian writes an introduction to Christian belief.  A book that demonstrates the sheer poverty of much of the Pseudo-Alpha rambling that passes for doctrine in UK churches.

Anabaptist/Baptist History: Meic Pearse, The Great Restoration.  To understand the left wing of the Reformation, you need someone who shares something of the idiosyncrasies of its protagonists.  This book is the wittiest guide to the weird and wonderful world of 16th and 17th century religious radicalism.

Baptist Theology: a tough one again, but in the end I come out with Paul Fiddes’ Tracks and Traces.  The original essays that form the basis for this work were the writings that helped me to see a different way to be Baptist, a way that is at once more ecumenical, catholic, biblical and thus authentic.

Hermeneutics: A K M Adam, Faithful Interpretation – who says what I have recently tried to say, only much better.

On Postmodernity: James K A Smith, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? – an antidote to all those books that say that postmodernism is rubbish because to say that we are in a time when metanarratives don’t convince is to construct a metanarrative and thus to be wrong (these are the same books that claim that Derrida believed that is nothing outside of language/text).

Novel: one simple choice, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead.  For why see here, here and here.