Tuesday, April 29, 2008

20 enjoyable books

The following 20 books are not necessarily the best books I have ever read, though some are, nor are they necessarily the books that have taught me the most, and nor are they even the ones I would automatically recommend first on the subjects they address. Rather, here are 20 books that I have read in the past few years that I really enjoyed reading. There are others that I would add if I were to think about it a bit longer, and perhaps a few important ones, but it is a first stab. (By the way, if it came down to favourite passages and book sections, Barth would be regularly named)

In no particular order:

  1. Jesus and the Victory of God (Wright). I can hear Tina Turner in the back ground singing, "Simply the Best"
  2. Models for Scripture (Goldingay) . Life changing.
  3. Die Sache mit Gott (Heinz Zahrnt). Utterly brilliant prose, detailing the theological moments of 20th century Protestantism till about the 1960s
  4. God Crucified (Bauckham).
  5. The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views today. (G.A. Boyd; Joel Green; B.R. Reichenbach; Thomas Schreiner). Superb debate, and the articles all honoured their respective positions.
  6. 1 Corinthians (Thiselton). The best commentary on any of Paul's letters, blending deep exegetical insight and wide reading, with deliberate dialogue with modern systematic theological concerns. Brilliant.
  7. The Evangelical Universalist (MacDonald). What a great read. It regularly anticipated my questions and I found it almost convincing. Almost.
  8. Paulus (Schnelle). A great book to learn German with.
  9. Old Testament Theology vol. 1 (Goldingay). This book astonished me. I have not had so much fun with a book since Wright's at the top.
  10. What the Bible Really Teaches (Keith Ward).
  11. Romans Commentary (Wright). Sorry, I know it bruises the pride of many other scholars and critics, but this guy really is something else.
  12. How to Reassess your Chess (Silman). Well, I liked it!
  13. A Short History of Christianity (Tomkins). Very funny in places.
  14. The Interpretation of the NT (1861-1986). Inspiring.
  15. Re:Mission (Perriman). It totally messed with my head – the sort of book I LOVE.
  16. Perspectives Old and New on Paul (Westerholm). What a great summary of various the approaches of various scholars.
  17. Inspiration and Incarnation (Enns). Very engaging and honest. A delightful invitation to continue an important conversation.
  18. Glauben und Verstehen (Bultmann). Some of the articles (I haven't read them all) were simply superb.
  19. The Beginning of All Things (Küng). Helped me settle my mind on numerous issues.
  20. The Rhythm of Doctrine (Colwell). A smooth tonic to my soul.
  21. The Life, Errors, Bad Theology, and 'Slack Jaw Breathing' Sin-Log Book of Jim West. Volumes 1 to 64 (Tilling). An important denunciation of bibliobloggers 'minimalist'. I don't think most really know what 'minimalist' means. So, for your information, it refers to the size of the 'you know what', hence 'mini-malist'.


At 4/30/2008 12:27 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Well ... I think it fair to say that #20 should replace #1. And further, the water at the San Diego annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature was cold... Next time we share a room, I'm insisting on much warmer water. And that, in the words of Forrest Gump, is all that I'm going to say about that.

At 4/30/2008 1:27 AM, Anonymous steph said...

What an insult to Tina Turner!

At 4/30/2008 12:04 PM, Blogger chuck grantham said...

Hmm. Let me consult my Hitchhikers' Guide....

Jim West:
"Mostly harmless. Annoying when he asks you to knock that battery off his shoulder."

N.T. Wright:
"One third wrong...doesn't know which third."

Anthony Thiselton...
"Slightly verbose in places."

Jeremy Silman:
"Thumbwrestler with Aagard. Chronological snob. Odd taste in movies."

Peter Enns:
"Insufficient memory for controversial entry."

Chris Tilling:
"See Titling"

"Drinks too much tea and is always with Anja, drat it."

At 5/01/2008 1:12 AM, Blogger Emergent Pilgrim said...

Chris can you tell me what was so good about Goldingay's book? I am interested in it. I noticed he has two with very similar names.

At 5/01/2008 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this very helpful list Chris! Have you seen that the author of The Evangelical Universalist has set up a blog so that people can comment on his book and ask him questions? The blog address is http://evangelicaluniversalist.blogspot.com/

Thanks again!

At 5/01/2008 6:06 PM, Anonymous John C. Poirier said...

I don't think Wright says anything in *Jesus and the Victory of God* that hadn't been said 100 times before. Wright just found a way to say it using more pages!

At 5/02/2008 12:12 AM, Blogger James Crossley said...

Ironically, some of these actually make my list of *least* enjoyable books.

I'm not saying which.


At 5/02/2008 9:09 PM, OpenID Brian said...

some day, you should consider checking out Arthur Glasser's Announcing the Kingdom: The Story of God's Mission in the Bible - it might get added to the list...

At 5/02/2008 9:21 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Chuck, it is difficult to disagree with you with your comments!! Thanks for the laugh.

Steph, Jim: REPENT!

Hey Mark, the book helped me to move away from Fundamenalism. It helped me develop a more healthy view of scripture - life changing in terms of my religious background. The other book, Models for Interpretation of Scripture is about hermeneutics.

Brain, thanks for the book tip.

John, that is an utterly disagreeable opinion you have voiced! I was tempted to list all of the original points he brought to the table, but I decided against it!

James, you must urgently see comment to Steph and Jim above.

At 5/03/2008 8:57 PM, Blogger J.Skjou said...

Chuck...that was a class reference to Hitchhickers; linking Wrights comments in his NTPG intro about him not knowing which 1/3 of his ideas are wrong with the Bugblatter Beast of Traal is a really eerie connection, so much so that I'm beginning to think that Wright is the Buglatter Beast. Anyhow, You are on to something profound here!

Im disappointed! We both know that C.Wright's "The Mission of God" has slipped your mind.

At 5/04/2008 8:53 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Horrible confession of the day: I haven't yet read through Chris W's book - had it from the library on my shelf for ages, dipped in now and then, but nope, never properly read it. I take your words as an encouragement to do so!

At 5/10/2008 11:04 PM, Blogger J.Skjou said...

Correction. I was thinking in bed last night as i was trying to fall asleep and it randomly came in my mind that Buglatter Beast is not the correct reference. He is the one who thinks that if you cannot see him then he cannot see you.

I'll have to wait until the next time i'm tossing and turning all night to think about which character is the one who is one third wrong, but does not know which third.

At 5/15/2008 2:25 PM, Blogger Gottlieb said...

What I am about to say should be more widely discussed on a new topic.
I saw that you mentioned a book about chess. I was a chess maniac and I played as a demonized many hours every day via the internet (I once won over a FIDE Master; I even browsed through some books, but found studying chess to be dull and enjoyed more playing). I even dreamt playing chess at night. Although I was sleeping my heart was watching, but unfortunately a very trivial thing as opposed to St. Paul’s urge that we “pray incessantly” in 1 Thes. 5:17; see also Hesychasm).
I played frenetically, was elated when winning but got very frustrated when losing. The problem that I have with chess and all the other games people play, arose when one day (I’m eastern orthodox and study theology), I started to think about Ephrem the Syrian's prayer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_of_Saint_Ephrem) in which we demand God to fend us from being possessed by the spirit of the lust for power. Let’s not forget that Jesus too was tempted by the devil with the promise of power. And chess is a struggle for power, a battle not of the flesh but of the mind, but ultimately of proving to the other that you’re better than him. Not truly Christian altruism.
This problem of mine deepened when I found about archons (intellectual demons), of whose existence and work someone mentioned to me, claiming that our university professors are being ruled by them, being deceived by them into thinking that they can teach us something not knowing that their actually blind and vain, some doing it just for the money and in the process transforming us into fools.
So I got interested about archons and demons and found a classification of them. According to that source, demons are of three types:
1. Wrathfull demons. People ruled by them are: those suffering from persecution mania (where persecuted and became persecutors, or they thought that they were persecuted); those suffering of paranoid schizophrenia; those with paranoid personality; alcoholics (those who developed in their brains reverberatory neural circuits that then parasitize their thinking and feel the need to block them with alcohol); and anyone who loves free violence (as where the Nazis);
2. Lustfull demons. People ruled by them are: those that cannot abstain from sex and/or pornography; those that cannot abstain from eating (those suffering from diabetes for example, sickness developed because of gluttony); collectors of material goods, art objects, stamps, coins, cars, books, magazines, comics, people that simply must have that to complete their collection – what a foolish way to obtain a false gratification; those that desire and treasure distinctions (medals, diplomas);
3. Archons, or intellectual demons whose aim is to create confusion; they are the creators of religions (with the exception of Jesus), of spiritual delusions, of false beliefs leading to disbelieve; their goal is to offer humans a concrete landmark concerning their future wealthfare on earth; those that let themselves be ruled by these kind of demons, are those without any talent in making money by honest means and exasperated by the uncertainty existing in their material and social life, anyone desiring the highest social position, anyone who wants others to believe about them that they have spiritual aspirations (see yoga, francmasonry, astrology), when in fact they are lovers of pleasure more than God (see polygamist cult leader) as described by St. Paul in 2 Timothy 3;
Why isn’t Jesus an intellectual demon? Because he detached himself from the material world. His promises strictly regard the future life. Anyone that lets himself deceived by the values of this life (the wisdom of this world) doesn’t care about the values promoted by Jesus Christ: moral values and rewards exclusively in a future immaterial life.
Now what does all this have to do with chess and the games people play around the world to socialize or to gain status and fame as masters of a certain game or competition (tango, football, cycling; oh and there are thousands of these kinds of competitions)? Well, I see them all as the inventions of these demons. I don’t see a chess board within the Trinity. I don’t see people engaging in these kinds of activities in heaven. Neither the Bible promotes them. Christians should pray and sing psalms together. Singing psalms and praying to God should be the way they socialize. The liturgy (gr. “work of the people”) is the paradigm of how Christian should live. Christ should be the “pretext” to socialize and come together. Christ should be the binding agent between us all. Remember that the Greek prefix anti- means not only “against of” but “instead of”. So all these are “instead off” Christ and more exactly from the Antichrist (1 John 4:3), preparing his coming, making his way in our hearts through these means and easing his acceptance by us humans, eluding our watchfulness (Mark 13:37) and revealing us to be ignorant and superficial, neither hot nor cold. Think about how much energy people put in order to excel in some of these competitions and games, and the vanity of them all. They are all meant to deceive and mislead us.
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, " I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.“ (Revelation 3:15-18)

At 6/24/2008 6:52 PM, Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Came over from the IVP post. I'm impressed that you can name 20 books you've enjoyed reading recently... I think I must be too fussy, for I begin many books and finish very few. Still, I guess that means that when I recommend a book wholeheartedly, people know I really mean it.


Post a Comment

<< Home