Reading in Review: 2012

I remember once reading approximately 50 books one year back in college. It looks like those days are long gone. If I reach half that ever again I’ll be amazed. Here’s my list for books read in 2012:

Jesus and the Gospels

  1. Jesus and the Victory of God– N. T. Wright
  2. How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels- N. T. Wright
  3. Mark for Everyone– N. T. Wright
  4. The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form – Gerd Theissen
  5. The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius– David Flusser w/ R. Steven Notley
  6. Christology in the Synoptic Gospels: God or God’s Servant?– Sigurd Grindheim
  7. A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context- Scot McKnight
  8. Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question – Michael F. Bird
  9. Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction Jonathan Pennington
  10. Knowing Jesus from the Old Testament- Christopher J. H. Wright


  1. What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?- N. T. Wright
  2. Paul in Fresh Perspective – N. T. Wright
  3. Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message– Michael F. Bird


  1. Gospel and Personal Evangelism– Mark Dever
  2. Kingdom of Christ– Russell Moore
  3. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation – Bruce Metzger
  4. Revelation for Everyone– N. T. Wright
  5. Trinity, Revelation, and Reading: : A Theological Introduction to the Bible and its Interpretation– Scott Swain
  6. The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission– Christopher J. H. Wright

I also managed to read about 35% of N. T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God, and selections are various commentaries, journals, and theologies. If my back was against the wall and I was forced to choose a top 5 these would be my picks:

  1. Jesus and the Victory of God- N. T. Wright
  2. Reading the Gospels Wisely- Jonathan Pennington
  3. Trinity, Revelation, and Reading- Scott Swain
  4. The Mission of God’s People- Christopher J. H. Wright
  5. Knowing Jesus from the Old Testament- Christopher J. H. Wright

JVG is a game changer. Wright’s Jesus is a young Jewish prophet preaching the arrival of the long-awaited end of Israel’s exile, return of YHWH to Zion, the kingdom of God. This end of exile was demonstrated not simply by words, but by deeds also, not simply by parables, but by dying on a Roman cross. By setting the (synoptic) Gospels in their first century historical/political/theological background Wright opens up many new avenues for biblical exploration. Once you’ve read the whole thing, whether you agree or disagree with his overall portrait, you never read the Gospels the same way again.

Pennington’s RGW is marvelous and spends much time addressing problems we tend to bring to the Gospels as modern readers, issues of hermeneutics and meaning, how the Gospel narratives convey meaning (including how teachers and preachers can use Gospel narratives to instruct, in distinction from the more propositional epistles) and gives his readers a practical method for grasping the most out of each Gospel unit. Simply put, Swain’s Trinity, Revelation, and Reading is the best small work on the doctrine of Scripture, it’s characteristics, and interpretation I’ve ever read. Swain discusses Scripture as a covenant document and asks the question What does God intent to do to/with us through our reading of Scripture? Here Swain in the realm of speech-act theory, but the point he’s getting at is as old as Scripture itself. Scripture is given to form a people, to bring them into covenant mutuality with the triune King.

Both of the above mentioned Chris Wright books are great models of well-written, “feet-on-the-ground” theology. Knowing Jesus asks how does Jesus fit into Israel’s Old Testament drama? How did Jesus view his own mission within the promises of God? How did Jesus understand the Old Testament ethical demand for holiness? Originally published in 1992, Knowing Jesus from the Old Testament clearly previewed themes that would later take on fuller development in his 2006 masterpiece The Mission of God. The Mission of God’s People builds on The Mission of God by asking the “so what?” question. If God’s own mission is to holistically deliver his creation what does that mean for us? Chapter by chapter Wright answers by a “biblical theology for life”  which ties together the identity and vocation of both Old Testament Israel and the New Covenant church.


Posted on December 31, 2012, in Christian Worldview and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This, by the way, is one of Christopher Hitchens’ greatest omissions as he criticizes Christianity in god is not Great. For all of our faults, we Christians have done an extraordinary job bringing God’s healing to people. In many parts of the world today, the Spirit heals in dramatic and miraculous ways. Similar, there are Christian hospitals and medical centers all over the globe. Even if Hitchens is not happy with the Christian nature of these centers of healing, he surely must recognize that Christians have, perhaps more than any other grouping of people in the world, helped to bring health and healing to millions and millions of people. Atheism will be much more attractive when we start seeing “Atheist Medical Center” or “Atheist Memorial Hospital” signs in our cities.

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