(Some) Best Academic Books of 2017

(Some) Best Academic Books of 2017 December 12, 2017


Well, I realize I haven’t blogged much this term  – I am finishing up several writing projects, and I got shingles in November which set me back for several weeks. But thinking about the close of 2017, I thought I would briefly mention some noteworthy books. This is far from a true “Best Books” list (as I usually do) because I did not read very much this year beyond what was directly related to my scholarship needs. But I did some reading, and now is a nice time to mention what I think are worthy contributions. In no particular order:

Jonathan Pennington, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing (Baker, 2017). 

Read it cover-to-cover and loved it. It is more than a commentary; it tries to read the Sermon in historical and cultural context, but also draws out the way the Sermon addresses timeless questions about life and flourishing.

Michael Gorman, ed. Scripture and Its Interpretation (Baker, 2017).

This is a welcome companion to Gorman’s excellent Elements of Biblical Exegesis. Experts give insight into a variety of topics and perspectives pertaining to hermeneutics. Perfect textbook material here!

Matthew Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone (Baker, 2017).

This book has made some big waves in the last several months, and for good reason. Matt is a sharp scholar and gifted teacher. Learn and engage. Also, it’s short and cheap. #XmasList

Joshua Jipp, Saved by Faith and Hospitality (Eerdmans, 2017).

This just may be my book of the year. The word that kept coming to my mind when I read this is: bold. It is a bold manifesto on what lies at the heart of Scripture – the unilateral hospitality of God towards sinful, broken, and rebellious humanity, and the call to reach out to the outsider, foreigner, or “other” with God’s love. #XmasList

Stephen Chester, Reading Paul with the Reformers (Eerdmans, 2017)

This is a meticulously researched and carefully argued academic work that gives penetrating insight into how the Reformers read and approached Paul. Really liked his reading of Luther.

Fleming Rutledge, Crucifixion (Eerdmans, 2017)

I did not agree with everything Rutledge had to say in this, but unarguably she is a profoundly gifted communicator, and there are numerous flashes of brilliance in this tome.

Christoph Heilig et al, God and the Faithfulness of Paul (Fortress, 2017)

Just scratching the surface of this massive response to NT Wright’s PFG – very happy to see detailed engagement with Wright and plenty of pushback. Expect an RBL review of GFP (WUNT version) from me sometime in 2018.

Paul Holloway, Philippians, Hermeneia (Fortress)

Anytime a Hermeneia Commentary is released, it is a big deal. Holloway is a respected historian of early Christianity and knows a thing or two about Philippians. I am about 60% through the commentary and I have mixed feelings. In some ways it is more of a monograph (Holloway takes a very particular approach to interpreting Philippians) with an explanatory commentary – which can be a good thing, because it is fresh and intellectually stimulating. At the same time, it is rather short and can feel rushed or incomplete. I am reviewing this for Interpretation and I will have much more to say about the strengths and weaknesses of this volume. But I will readily admit that I am learning a lot from Holloway I would not have learned elsewhere.

John Walton, Old Testament Theology for Christians (IVP, 2017)

I don’t get much time to read OT literature, but this one grabbed my attention. Walton is a winsome writer and has thought a lot about interpreting the OT theologically. Just getting started with this book, but very much enjoying his approach so far.

Books I WANT to read soon:

Sarah Melcher, et al, ed. The Bible and Disability: A Commentary (Baylor Press, 2017)

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Lynn Cohick and Amy Brown Hughes, Christian Women in the Patristic Period (Baker)

Important historical work that is long overdue.

Christopher Skinner and Sherri Brown, ed. Johannine Ethics: The Moral World of the Gospels and Epistles of John (Fortress, 2017)

This book boasts a top-flight list of scholars weighing in on a perennially thorny question – did John have an ethic, and if so, what was it?






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