I’m starting a series today for post seminary reading. A pastor recently wrote me and asked about what to read now that he is pastoring. He expressed an interest in intellectual challenges for the pastor and for continuing education.
I thought five books would be a good number but there’s one problem: perhaps the pastor read one of these books in seminary, so I’ll add a sixth.
My specialty is New Testament studies so I will begin there. These are in my estimation seminal books for the field in which they were written and books that will also challenge the pastor in different ways. They may not provide a new sermon but they will give sermons new depth.
E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism or Judaism: Practice and Belief. The first book created the new perspective on Paul and the second put into words what Sanders thought Judaism at the time of Jesus and Paul was like.
Klyne Snodgrass, Stories with Intent. The single most important study on the parables of Jesus available today and one packed with valuable insights for sermons.Mary Beard, The Roman Triumph. If you want to get to the heart of the Roman empire, read Beard; if you want to know its dominant ethos for imperialism, here’s the place to start.
J. Barclay, Paul and the Gift. Second only to Sanders in significant studies for Paul in my career.
Michael Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly. I grew up in the worst possible forms of reading Revelation; Revelation, if it is anything, is a book about political theology. Gorman expounds it beautifully.
Brian Blount, Then the Whisper Put on Flesh. Thiselton writes about socio-pragmatic readings and Blount’s book epitomizes a liberation angle on NT ethics.