Five Important Books (or, Another Meme)

Mike Koke tagged me with the book meme that’s been floating around.  I already listed three influential books a little while back but I think the rules of this one state that I’m supposed to list five books that influenced the way I read Scripture.  I don’t know that there are five books that have had such influence on me.  If I really think about it then I’d say:

  1. The Gospel of Luke because Jesus walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus and showed them all the things in the Hebrew Scriptures that pertained to him (Lk. 24:27).  This influenced me to read the Scriptures christocentrically.
  2. The Gospel of John because Jesus told the Jews that Moses wrote of him (Jo. 5:46).  Same reason as above.
  3. Craig Evans’ Fabricating Jesus was the first book that made me think that inerrancy wasn’t necessary for the Bible to be authoritative.
  4. Richard Bauckham’s The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple contained an essay that was persuasive enough to ultimately make me abandon belief in the so-called Johannine Community.  Reading his essays in The Gospels for All Christians and sections of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses only strengthened this position.
  5. Gleason Archer’s New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties was influential in so far as it taught me how I don’t want to interpret the tough parts of Scripture.  There were plenty of places where his explanations made sense and were satifying, but there were also many where his harmonizing seemed tortured, even to an ardent inerrantist (at the time) such as myself. 

That’s about it to be honest.  I’d like to say Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth was influential but I just read it recently and it only confirmed things that I was already doing.  And I’ve read some Barth, and some Bultmann, and plenty of others who have had plenty to say, but their words have had zero effect on the way I read the Bible.

I like book memes so to keep this one going I’ll tag the newest bunch of WordPress converts: Esteban Vázquez, Rich S., Michael Metts, Josh McManaway, and Gary Zimmerli.


21 thoughts on “Five Important Books (or, Another Meme)

  1. Nick, 1 and 2 are excellent observations. Romans 1:1-4 might fit that category also, where Paul explicitly says that Jesus is the fulfillment of OT prophecy.

    This will make a great idea for a post. Thanks for the tag.

  2. The Gospel of Luke because Jesus walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus and showed them all the things in the Hebrew Scriptures that pertained to him…

    I think there should be a meme includes conversations in the bible you wish you could have eavesdropped on. The one you mention and the one Paul mentions in Galatians where he spent two weeks with Peter have to be my top two!

  3. I understood the task as five books outside Scripture that help us understand Scripture. What do I know? LOL

    Philip, my understanding is that a christocentric reading of Scripture includes christocentric reading of the OT based on John 5:39, Luke 24:44-45 , Acts 8:35, 2 Timothy 3:14-15, etc.

  4. Will: Yeah, the Galatians conversations would probably be very interesting. After all, we’ve been told on many an occasion that we can be sure they talked about more than just the weather!

    Phil: Ha! Of course they do! ;-)

    Ranger: Thanks. Since you don’t have a blog, what books would you list?

    Rich: That probably was the task, but I struggled to think of the three outside of Scripture. Five would have been impossible!

  5. Way to go Nick,
    Your the only other blogger I’ve seen, that I know of, mention “Gleason Archer’s New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties”. I have that book and it’s awesome.

  6. I know everyone is getting all artsy “I’d list the liner notes to Beethoven’s fifth because it feels me with a transcendent joy when reading Scripture,” but I’d probably list:

    1. Fee/Stuart mentioned above for obvious reasons. It was basic and extremely helpful. I list it not just because I enjoyed it, but also because I enjoyed discipling high school students using this text. To see them grow in their love of God’s word was powerful.

    2. “Grasping God’s Word” by Duvall/Hays – I had this book in a basic hermeneutics class and really enjoyed it. It was simple, but highly practical. I remember actually enjoying doing diagramming for the first time as we learned how to take Scripture seriously, but how to keep it practical for our own lives in faith.

    3. The Apostolic Fathers – My first read through the AF changed the way I read Scripture, because I started learning (this is probably 10 years ago now) how the early church interpreted things, and how it was different from how I understood Scripture to be interpreted.

    4. Moises Silva “Foundations of Contemporary Hermeneutics” because (not unlike the AF) it opened my eyes to seeing a world of interpretation that extended far being my particular corner of evangelicalism. I had this assigned in a class with Scott Swain. I remember his goofy grin when he realized that some of us were starting to “get it” in regards to hermeneutics.

    5. John Piper “Desiring God” – I know you’re anti-Piper, but it was reading this book as a senior in high school that really took me from being a nominal Christian to being a dedicated follower of Christ. I’m a lot different now, but I still highly recommend this book for those who are interested in coming alive in their faith.

  7. Esteban: I chose you for a good reason. You can link to all the books you choose! Don’t you get it man? This meme is for your benefit!

    Bryon: But I didn’t mention it in the most positive light. I recognize that Archer was a million times the scholar that I could ever hope to be, but some of his explanations were unconvincing to say the least.

    Ranger: Nice list (#5 excepted). ;-)

  8. In my church it’s more Beethoven’s Ninth.

    I find Beethoven’s Fifth hard to put words to.

    But if I were making a Jesus film I’d have to work C.F. Abel’s Arpegiatta for viola da gamba in there somehow.

  9. Nick,
    I re-read what you wrote and it didn’t seem like you were that down on it (Archer), however if it was a starting point, sometimes that’s enough in itself. That’s what it was for me. There’s more recent and better works out now. Philip Comfort comes to mind if you care for his approach..

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