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Jesus Creed

Books of the Year 2009 (revised)

Library.jpgI posted this last week, but want to post it again for those who have not yet seen it. I’ve added the book on introverts below and Jim Belcher’s book.

There are some books that have come across my desk this year that deserve special honor, so I want to award some books and authors for the singular contribution. This is not a widespread scan of all books nor even of books on the topics of the books I award. No, this is simply a recognition that these are the best books that came my way this year. Some of these I blogged about extensively and others I either barely mentioned or mentioned only in passing.
I begin with Bible and then branch out.
Undoubtedly, the best new reference set of books this year is the fantastic new set of Old Testament commentaries in light of historical context, a set edited by John Walton: Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Set: Old Testament

Alongside John’s edited work, I have to say that his little student-level book on Genesis One: The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate
. This book is an important landmark study of evangelical Christians, paving the way for a more responsible use of science in matters pertaining to Genesis 1. So, I want to give John Walton two hat tips this year. 

When it comes to New Testament books, I nominate the massive and soon-to-be-discussed book by Douglas Campbell, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul


For Church history, a book that will do double-duty for college classes and for churches, I have to give a big push to Chris Armstrong’s splendid Patron Saints for Postmoderns: Ten from the Past Who Speak to Our Future
But for an introduction to early theology, IVP is to be congratulated for the wonderful new set of books called Ancient Christian Doctrine, and I link to just the first volume. We Believe in One God (Ancient Christian Doctrine)
 Splendid, splendid, splendid!
On the “doctrine of Scripture,” an incredibly suggestive and enlightening study by Jewish scholar, Michael Fishbane, really impressed me: Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology

For books on history, I can’t think of a better study this year than the new one by Gary Anderson on sin: Sin: A History
. This book may not satisfy Protestants, but it is one serious piece of history written up in splendid prose. 

A wonderful church book is by Miriam Neff: That book is Miriam Neff’s From One Widow to Another: Conversations on the New You , a book that is a must for all those ministering to widows. And I’ve just added this: Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
My Third Way book of the year is by Adam Hamilton, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics
. I thought I could restrict this category to one book, but Jim Belcher’s book is a must read too: Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional
For memoirs, the deeply moving and gut-wrenching — if not critical — study by Hala Jaber, The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles: A Woman’s Fight to Save Two Orphans
, gets my #1 pick.
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posted December 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm

A couple of questions:
1. When you originally posted about the Zondervan OT set, you mentioned that evangelicals in particular need to purchase it. Can you explain why?
2. What are your thoughts on the NT volumes?
3. With big volumes like this I now feel more comfortable getting them on electronic format (Libronix). Do you think that’s a good idea with this series given how much you praised the layout? Also, I’ll never get it on electronic format as long as Logos sells it at retail ($250) when I can get it on Amazon for $150. Electronic format should be cheaper, not more expensive!!!
4. I’ve tried to keep up with the Campbell debate about Romans and justification. I’m not really understanding it at all apart from maybe Paul didn’t write Romans 1-3 or something along those lines. Whenever you get around to reading it, would you consider doing a few posts on his basic thesis, the implications it has (theological, ethical, etc.)? That would be great.

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posted December 13, 2009 at 8:51 am

Very interested in your impending review of Doug Campbell’s book. He (via his wife’s login) has been kind enough to engage with some of us at Chris Tillings blog recently. I still wonder how non-historic understandings of “dadm” and the “fall” fit in, given Doug’s interesting take on Romans 1-4 v 5-8(ish).

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posted December 13, 2009 at 2:04 pm

I thought I could restrict this category to one book, but Jim Belcher’s book is a must read too: Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional
I could not help to wonder if you had read the review at by a reviewer who found the book to be a rehashing of ideas repackaged to portray a 3rd way, when it seems to be the same way with a new twist. Having not read the book and pondering whether to purchase it based on this 2 star review; I am curious why you endorse this must read. In all fairness the reviewer gave a lengthy response in a polemic atmosphere, including a letter to the author. How say you?
Link to review

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Scot McKnight

posted December 13, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Luke, first, because the series anchors the text in ancient background texts and sources. I’ve not seen the NT volumes … so nothing to say. On the electronic versions… outside my world. I don’t read books online or in electronic form, so I can’t help you on that.
I will eventually do more on Campbell, but his is not an easy book to post about.
On Belcher’s book … well, I’m familiar with the emerging scene and I think his book is fair minded and describes the emerging and traditionalist views well. I recommend it highly.

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Scot McKnight

posted December 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm

And Bryant, I worked through Belcher’s book chp by chp on this blog.

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Your Name

posted December 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Scot did a 10 part series on the book in Sept.-Oct. that got quite a good conversation going, with Jim joining in. You can find it with this link Deep Church as Third Way. You might find some information there to help.

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posted December 13, 2009 at 3:22 pm

And Bryant, you might particularly look for some of the comments by dopderbeck on those threads about Belcher’s book. He and others were wondering if the book really advocated a “third way” or if it was more like conservative Reformed Evangelicalism (I believe the author is in the PCA, hardly a denomination known for “third way”) with less of a hard edge. For example, some questioned whether one could really be “third way” while still holding to “inerrancy” as a key doctrine. Others observed that the emerging church that Belcher wants to differentiate from has seen itself as a “third way” movement, and wondered how many “ways” we can have by those who position themselves as a new way between perceived extremes.
I have not read the book so have no direct input myself, but the discussion was interesting.

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posted December 13, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Thanks for the replies, If I were to presuppose an understanding of the emergent/emerging church movement, I may be tempted to investigate this book further, though the many reviews seem evenly split on this 3rd way as a result of the two ways (tradition and emergent). I tend to think of works by Martin Hengel, that may shed some light on the early church and how if functioned in a society both politically and socially infected by a graeco-roman ethos. There are many aspects of (the worship experience) that have no linkage to scripture that on the surface seem forced, by the early church; For what reason(s) epistemologically speaking are they part and parcel of church that we know very little of. Perhaps the answers lay in an understanding of Judaism and early Christianity as they merged into the one creation as Paul express?s in Ephesians Ch. 2

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John Sobert Sylvest

posted December 14, 2009 at 10:30 pm

AHH (#7) Excellent comments.

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Jim Martin

posted December 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm

You really do a lot of us a service with this particular post. Glad you added Belcher’s book. I thought it was very good.

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John Hammond

posted December 21, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Hi Scot,
What about Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin? You did quite a series on it, and I bought it because of that….wow, that book changed my life and my entire outlook to the hottest topic in our faith today. He is truly a pioneer and someone who is bold enough to finally put words to what so many others have been trying to grasp. I know my church has made significant changes in what it means to be incarnational; especially in the gay community, but also especially in our understanding of our Christian calling. His book tops my list of best I’ve read this year.

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