Book of the Year
Matthew Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone, is the Jesus Creed 2017 Book of the Year. Biblically sound and penetrating, theologically alert, and pastorally sensitive. Bates challenges the weak-kneed but all too common understanding of faith as (merely) trust and demonstrates conclusively that if the gospel is about Jesus as Lord, then the response to the king is allegiance. This book deserves a study guide and a pastoral follow-up. Bates book came early in 2017 and it held on the entire year for me as the best book I read.
Books of the Year: Honorable Mention
Dennis Edwards, 1 Peter (Story of God Bible Commentary). I was privileged to see this from different angles: not only were we part of the committee that invited Dennis to write this commentary, but I was one of the editors and then I watched as one pastor or professor after another read it and said, “There’s something special here.” Dennis brings his expertise in New Testament into coalition with his three decades of pastoral experience to make this commentary exactly what the series intends to accomplish.
Lynn Cohick and Amy Brown Hughes, Christian Women in the Patristic World. The stories of women must be told, the stories of men have been told, the stories of women are being told. This book opens the door to a room full of women who deserve a place at the table with the men whose stories have been told. There is here good historical sketch, solid theological awareness, and an eye on the influence each women can have in the church today. What a delightful read.
Greg Boyd, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God. Has to be the most provocative book I have read in a decade, and this is what I like: Boyd is unafraid of taking a stand. He knows where he stands — God revealed to us in Christ as the cruciform God — and lets that understanding of God reshape everything he sees in the Bible. This is pure theological interpretation of Scripture. People have wondered about God and violence (esp in the Old Testament), some have put forth their best efforts though often it comes off as special pleading, but Boyd said, “Hang it all, we have to do this all over from a different place.” He did and the book (and its one volume companion Cross Vision) deserves to be read carefully.
New Testament Book of the Year
Here is my bias: I’m a NT professor so my reading is often in New Testament books. I’ve already mentioned a few but I want to add another in this category.
Old Testament Books of the Year
Tremper Longman, The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom.
Walter Brueggeman, Money and Possessions
Commentary of the Year
I couldn’t decide on the best commentary I got this year, so I will mention three outstanding additions to the commentary genre.
Jonathan Pennington, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing
Paul Holloway, Philippians
Michael Wolter, The Gospel of Luke. Vol 2 came out in September, completing this two volume set.
Peggy Noonan, The Time of Our Lives. A collection of Peggy Noonan’s beautiful prose and commentary. OK, it was from 2015 but I’m behind on my essay reading.
Thomas Andrew Bennett, The Labor of God. I found this the most stimulating work on the atonement I’ve read in years.
This is a banner year for church historians with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and I have two books in that category but I found two others to be great reads and worthy of your shelf.
Kenneth Stewart, In Search of Ancient Roots. If anything, this book will become a rebuke of populist evangelicalism for its lack of theological rootedness.
David Downs, Alms. An intense scholarly book on almsgiving in the ancient church with attention to its redemptive value.
Kevin Vanhoozer, Biblical Authority After Babel. A careful balanced study of each of the solas.
Richard Rex, The Making of Martin Luther. Alongside the many books this year on the Reformation’s solas and the contribution of the Reformation, I highly recommend the sharp-eyed study of Luther — in beautiful prose — by Rex.
Science and Faith (by RJS)
Denis Lamoureux’s new book Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes
Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight Adam and the Genome.
Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation edited by Kenneth Keathley (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary), J. B. Stump (BioLogos) and Joe Aguirre (Reasons to Believe).
I read four novels by Kent Haruf in 2017, and I found him an amazing if gritty writer.