Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year in Review Book Recommendations

(Personal Note from Shane: My apologies for not updating the blog more often this year. The fall has been a busy season for Kristi and me. Just after I made the previous post we found out that her cancer had returned and metastasized. So our fall has been dominated by doctor appointments and visits to receive treatment. Please keep Kristi in your prayers).

I thought I would kick off the New Year with a look back at some books that I really enjoyed reading in 2014. This is not a list of books published in 2014, but books that I used in connection with my preaching and teaching. And of course, all caveats apply here - these are books written by fallible people from across a wide spectrum of belief. Judge all books by the authority of Christ! And so, in no particular order...

The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism. By Edward Feser

I said this list was in no particular order, but I must say that this book had a deeper impact on me than any book I have read in a long time (other than the Bible, of course). Feser is a Catholic philosopher who specializes in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Even though I have a graduate degree in theology, I had never carefully studied the works of Aquinas. I purchased this book as a refutation of the new atheism, but it turned out to be much more than that. It was an introduction to the thought of Aquinas, whose arguments (properly understood) are simply the most powerful arguments ever made for the existence of God. They are much different than the popular forms of argument made by writers such as William Lane Craig, or by the Intelligent Design movement, and in my view, far superior. I am very thankful for Feser's work, which - to paraphrase another philosopher - awoke me from my dogmatic slumbers regarding Aquinas. Feser also has a blog -

This is an excellent resource for explaining the basics of good Bible study, following the observation-interpretation-application method. This book was recommended to me by my good friend Max Shearer.

This book is a fantastic look at personal productivity. It combines a biblical understanding of stewardship of time and talents with the mission-centered approach of Steven Covey, and then adds a fantastic layer of practical advice on things like managing email flow, organizing your desk, and so much more. Berman also has a blog,, that you may enjoy subscribing to. And a shout out again to my friend Max for putting me on to the blog.

I read two Tim Keller books this past year in connection with sermons I was preaching that I found very insightful:

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith and The Meaning of Marriage. Keller's work on the Parable of the Prodigal Son led me to think more deeply about the similarities between the two sons in the story (for an excellent textual analysis that drives this point home, check out Klyne Snodgrass's Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus). And Keller's approach to marriage is that the union of a husband and wife is supposed to model the gospel itself - a way of looking at marriage is truly transformative.

The Epistle to the Galatians (Black’s New Testament Commentary). By James D.G. Dunn

Along with N.T. Wright, Dunn is the most famous and prolific of the writers who have defended what is sometimes called "The New Perspective" on Paul. In preparation for a class on Galatians, I decided to take a look at Dunn's commentary, which was my first exposure to his work. While I would lean more to the side of Wright's version of the New Perspective, I found Dunn's commentary to be extremely insightful (though it is quite advanced). 

This past quarter I did a survey of the Minor Prophets, and found this resource to be a perfect tool to use for such a quick overview. It covers all of the prophetic books of the Old Testament in survey fashion. And a hat tip to Nathan Pickup for the recommendation. 

I would love to hear about the books you enjoyed reading this past year!

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