Mike Aubrey said I was to consider myself tagged for the 5 most influential books meme. I am going to do two of these since I had been think of doing another one before the meme started. I want to do one that is more academic and one that is more personal. This will be the academic version.
Walter Brueggemann. The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary. Augsburg, 1984.
Reading Brueggemann’s book on the Psalms really opened my eyes to a way of seeing the Psalms as prayers that can reflect our orientation to God as it relates to our situation. Brueggemann sees the Psalms in three ways: Psalms of orientation (we see God’ rightly), Psalms of disorientation (we are a bit disoriented in how we see God so it is not right because either we’re too confused or in too much pain, etc), and Psalms of reorientation (where after coming out of a stormy time, we find ourselves becoming reacquainted and perhaps see him in a new light and new way we hadn’t seen him before). These ideas also have tremendous implications for pastoral work as well in helping folks find ways to relate to God in the midst of life.
Robert Chisholm, Jr. From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew. Baker, 1998.
Not that I planned it but when I switched from Fuller Seminary NW to AGTS, it afforded me the opportunity to take a Hebrew Exegesis class from each part of the Hebrew Bible, and I took advantage of it. I did a class on the Psalms at Fuller where I met Brueggemann through his book I just noted (though my prof at AGTS wasn’t keen on Brueggemann). Then, when I switched to AGTS I took two more Hebrew exegesis classes with Exodus and Micah-Joel as the focus, so I had one in each the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. In the classes for Exodus and Micah-Joel, Chisholm was one of the texts. I know not everyone is a fan of it (e.g., Miles Van Pelt of BBH fame), but I like it. It is practical and useful. One chapter pretty much summarizes Waltke-O’Conner so you have snippet of the basics and if you need more go to WC. The biggest influence I got from Chisholm is how to do exegesis and also to never ever ever attempt to use and OT story to illustrate and NT teaching, ever (unless that story explicitly illustrates the point) – this is a major no no many a Pastor or so called Bible Teacher does. I have learned not to do that – and better why not just preach from the OT text and let the story tell itself? This is a good, good book, in my estimation.
George Eldon Ladd. A Theology of the New Testament, Rev Ed. (Eerdmans, 1974, 1993).
Well, what is there to say? It’s Ladd. He was simply one of, if not, the single most influential evangelical NT scholar of his day and through his works he is still teaching many NT students today biblical theology as a discipline. Those who read Ladd, learn how to manage with the tension in the Biblical text of the “already/not yet” aspects of the Kingdom of God and Salvation History. That, while the kingdom has broke into our world already, especially in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ, full realization of the presence of the kingdom still lies in the future when Christ shall come again. Through it all, he helps us learn to emphasize what the text itself emphasizes and not what we think it emphasizes. For the time being as well, I follow Ladd in his approach to eschatology (i.e., Historic Pre-millennialism) seeing that while much of the Olivet Discourse has been fulfilled – there is yet more to come that will finally bring this age to a close. I also have a copy of his Revelation commentary, The Gospel of the Kingdom, and The Meaning of the Millennium. Certainly newer theologies have come out but I think this should be one that pastors and teachers own among others (i.e., Marshall or Thielman, etc).
Arthur Glasser. Announcing the Kindom: The Story of God’s Mission in the Bible. Baker Academic, 2003.
Now, I know everyone is all excited about Christopher Wright’s book, Mission of God (it made a big splash) – but I like Glasser and his work on the biblical theology of mission. Through Glasser I am learning to think missionally about the Bible and learning that in the story of salvation hsitory God is a missional God, that Bible is a missionary book – from beginning to end, missio dei is the focus of God’s plan of redemption. In the Old Testament we see an expectaion of the Kingdom and in the NT we begin to see its fulfillment in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ and his church, the people of God. It really is a great overview of the whole Bible and what it teaches regarding the mission of God: to see his salvation to the ends of the earth! Get it and read it!
Andrew Purves. Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation. Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.
I have completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) (just one part of the pastor’s version of a hospital residency similar to what medical students do). When in that progran I noticed that much of what was passing for pastoral theology was really just another form of counseling psychology – a sort of theological reflection of the human experience – but it did not center on Christ and was more functional in it’s approach. I then got Thomas Oden’s Pastoral Theology and began to learn pastoral theology in the context actual church ministry. This work by Purves is completing the circle for me in helping me develop a solidly Christological basis for the pastoral ministry that is decidely Christian. For example, CPE is pastoral training in an interfaith setting, so it is not expressly Christian. I wanted something more expressly Christian in its approach and I have found it in Purves’ Reconstructing Pastoral Theology. It is helping me understand what pastoral work has to do with the Bible (trinity, incarnation, resurrection, Paul, eschatology and so on). I am still learning from it but it is an influential book for me.
So these are five books that have influenced me in biblical studies and ministry.