This is another in an irregular series on new books worth noting – this time just on theology and biblical studies. Of course hundreds of such books pour off the presses each year, and this listing simply features some of the volumes I happen to now be reading.
Important theological tomes are always becoming available, and the books featured here are only a small sampling of what is currently available. They happen to reflect my particular interests at the moment, so this list is quite selective and restricted. Many of these books for example are written by New Testament scholars, so that is a major focus of this selection of titles.
But for those who enjoy reading theological tomes, along with biblical studies, with a bit of apologetics and philosophy of religion thrown in, these dozen volumes – simply listed alphabetically – will provide for some stimulating and mind-stretching reading.
Alcorn, Randy, If God is Good. Multnomah, 2009.
The problem of evil and suffering is one of the greatest challenges Christians can face – both in seeking to win over non-believers, and in convincing themselves of God’s love and goodness. In this valuable volume Alcorn offers an extensive, although easy to read examination of the problem. In this substantial work of over 500 pages he covers most of the bases concerning this complex and multi-layered issue. A very helpful treatment indeed.
Bauckham, Richard, Jesus and the God of Israel. Eerdmans, 2008.
Back in 1999 Bauckham penned a brief but important monograph, God Crucified. This volume is a major expansion and revision of that work, focussing on how the early worship of Christ was seen to cohere with Jewish monotheism. Other key aspects of early Christology, including the issue of the divine identity of Christ, are featured here. An important set of essays by a major NT scholar.
Cameron, Andrew and Brian Rosner, eds., The Trials of Theology. Christian Focus, 2010.
In this short but pungent volume two Australian theologians bring together experts both past and present to discuss why we should do theology; the hazards of theological study; and the benefits of it. Past writers include Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, and CS Lewis, while contemporary words of wisdom are offered by DA Carson, John Woodhouse and others. A delightful and informative little volume.
Carson, D.A., Scandalous. Crossway, 2010.
At the very centre of Christian beliefs is the work of Christ on the cross and his resurrection. These beliefs are regarded as scandalous by many, but they are the bedrock foundation of all Christian belief and practice. Here the leading New Testament expert offers a brief overview of these truths, based on a series of talks he delivered back in 2008. As always, first-rate material from a first-rate scholar.
Gilbert, Greg, What is the Gospel? Crossway, 2010.
In an age in which truth is relativised and doctrine is downplayed, it is more important than ever to reaffirm basic Christian teachings. Here in a very slim yet cogent volume Gilbert restates and explains the major biblical beliefs which comprise the Christian gospel. Key items such as sin, salvation, Christ, the Kingdom, and the cross are briefly but carefully explained and affirmed.
Keener, Craig, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. Eerdmans, 2009.
In this monumental volume of over 800 pages the renowned New Testament scholar and expert in early Christian background explores the world of the Synoptic Gospels and the richness of material that establishes the Christian story. This is an extensive and scholarly investigation into the ancient sources that make up the New Testament understanding of who Jesus is, demonstrating their authority and reliability. A very important and substantial work indeed.
Kostenberger, Andreas, A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters. Zondervan, 2009.
In nearly 700 pages the noted expert in Johannine studies offers a detailed look at the Fourth Gospel and the Epistles of John. Kostenberger is an authority in this field, having written extensively in the area, including his fine commentary on John in the BECNT series. A comprehensive, up-to-date and carefully crafted work.
Miles, Todd, A God of Many Understandings? Broadman & Holman, 2010.
How are Christians to understand other religions? Can truth be found in non-Christian religions? Is Jesus the only way to salvation? Miles, a theology professor, tackles these and related questions, affirming that exclusivism is in fact the biblical position, and we must not shrink back from the uniqueness of the Christian truth claims. A very solid and informative volume.
Tidball, Derek, The Message of Holiness. IVP, 2010.
This is the latest in the Bible Speaks Today series on biblical themes. There can be few greater themes than that of Christian holiness. As with other volumes in the series, meaty chapters centring on a passage of Scripture are presented to fully tease out the issue at hand. Here Tidball does a very good job of marshalling the data and presenting the biblical message about the need for, and the importance of, holiness.
Wax, Trevin, Holy Subversion. Crossway, 2010.
In his brief but helpful volume an American Baptist pastor warns us of the many idols which we can become ensnared with. The Lordship of Christ should extend to every area of life, and Wax looks at key areas where idolatry can creep in: the workplace, our private life, the political arena, our sexual life, and so on. A challenging reminder to avoid the idols of our age.
Witherington, Ben, The Indelible Image, 2 vols. IVP, 2009, 2010.
I have previously remarked on the first volume of this set. Now that both volumes are out, it is worth highlighting the set once again. Totalling some 1700 pages, this magisterial work is both a theology of the New Testament as well as an examination of the ethical world of the NT. Theology and ethics go together in the NT, argues Witherington, but too often we have tried to study these aspects separately. But here we see how they intermingle and play off each other. A terrific effort by a noted NT scholar.
Wright, Tom, Virtue Reborn. SPCK, 2010.
One is always amazed at how Tom Wright can crank out so much material, and always of a very high level. Whether writing for a more popular-level audience, or for the scholarly community, his writings are always marked by wisdom, insight and theological nous. This latest volume examines the Christian life, and how the renewing and life-changing work of Christ is an ongoing process. A changed, Christlike life is ever the goal of our Christian profession. More great wisdom and theological understanding here from the Bishop of Durham.