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Jesus Creed Books of the Year 2009

Library.jpgWhat were the best books you read this year? I’d be interested in hearing your choices. Whatever yours are, the following post lists mine.

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.
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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Carl Holmes

posted December 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm

I am surprised you overlooked Belcher’s Deep Church. I believe that he is working hard to be a 3rd way thinker and gives many emergent, and more conservative theologians a place to talk and find that middle way.
One book that I really enjoyed this year, and it is not theology per se, was Shop Class as Soul Craft by Matthew Crafword. He is a philospher by training (a P.h.D no less) and motorcycle mechanic. He does a nice job of unraveling work and why it is so important, and how neglecting to train some people in the vocational arts is going to, and in some cases already has, leave a deep hole in our culture.

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Scot McKnight

posted December 6, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Carl, I was torn between Adam’s book and Jim’s — but Jim’s book deserves some recognition.

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posted December 6, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Great list Scot. I haven’t read Fishbane’s newest yet, but am looking forward to diving into since you recognized it.
I was looking forward to Walton’s scholarly version of Lost World to be published by Eisenbrauns. Guess we’ll have to wait until 2010 for that version!

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posted December 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm

I’ve read several great books this year, the best being David Dark’s The Sacredness of Questioning Everything. My favorite older books I just tgot around to reading this year are by Peter Rollins, How (Not) to Speak of God and The Fidelity of Betrayal.
The best memoirs I’ve read this year are Don Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and Kevin Roose’s The Unlikely Disciple.

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posted December 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Sacred Attunement was excellent. Many of the others mentioned here were as well. But what is up coming – worth getting for discussion?

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Clay Knick

posted December 6, 2009 at 5:27 pm

I loved Ron White’s “A. Lincoln.” I also liked, “The Good and Beautiful God.” “Pilgrim Heart” was great too as was Armstrong’s book you mentioned above.

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Adam Omelianchuk

posted December 6, 2009 at 6:03 pm

John Calvin: A Pilgrim?s Life by Herman J. Selderhuis–Fascinating look at a flawed and brilliant man.

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posted December 6, 2009 at 9:21 pm

I have been impressed with Scot’s “Fasting” (which is a very accessible treatment of the subject) and Andrew Marin’s “Love is an Orientation.” Both have been very helpful for me in ministry.

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Scott Volltrauer

posted December 6, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Thanks for the suggestions! I have not read any of them yet, but they hit my wish list!

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posted December 7, 2009 at 9:02 am

I realize some of these are 2008 publications, and I omitted anything older than that (I think?)??
The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark
The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity by Skye Jethani
The Prodigal God by Tim Keller
How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James Kugel
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright
The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose
Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of our Daily Choices by Julie Clawson
The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox
Finding Organic Church: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Authentic Christian Communities by Frank Viola
The Shack by William P. Young (fiction)
Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith by Shane Hipps
The Jesus Paradigm by David Alan Black
From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God by Frank Viola
Doing Healing: How to minister God’s kingdom in the power of the Spirit by Alexander Venter
Heaven Is Real: Lessons on Earthly Joy–What Happened After 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper
The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution by Greg Boyd
The Evolution of God by Robert Wright
The Reason for God by Tim Keller
A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass
Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World by John Stackhouse
Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches from Growing: How Leaders Can Overcome Costly Mistakes by Geoff Surratt
How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator by Joe Carter
Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles Pierce
The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty by Peter Singer
Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas Blackmon
Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, and Evolution (The Roundtable Series in Behavioral Economics) by Samuel Bowles
Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer
Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Rupert Shell
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

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Steve (SBK)

posted December 7, 2009 at 10:38 am

How would you rank “God Hides in Plain Sight” by Dean Nelson?
That was one of the books you talked about that interested me the most (i.e. that I still want to read).

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Scot McKnight

posted December 7, 2009 at 10:40 am

Steve, a very good book. I blogged through it. For memoirs, though, I thought Jaber’s book was the best I read this year.

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Danny Kam

posted December 7, 2009 at 6:26 pm

I just finished “Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the middle ages.” I thought it was the best book on Christian history I’ve read this year:
Here’s my review:

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David D. Flowers

posted December 8, 2009 at 10:41 am

Thank you for the recommended books. I would add a few to this list.
Ecclesiology: “From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God” and “Finding Organic Church: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Authentic Christian Communities” by Frank Viola
Theology: “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” by N.T. Wright
Christian Living: “The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution” by Gregory Boyd

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Andrew Kenny

posted December 8, 2009 at 1:26 pm

THe Mission Of God -Chris Wright
Kingdom Concerns -Ken Gnanakan
THe heavenly Man -Brother Yun
Secret Believers -Brother Andrew
Christ of the Round Table -E.Stanley Jones (Oldie)
THe True Vine -Andrew Murray
Wild at Heart -John Aldridge
Paul the apostle of the free Spirit- F.F. Bruce

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Alan K

posted December 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Totally in agreement on Douglas Campbell’s “The Deliverance of God.” The most exciting and thought provoking book on Pauline theology in a very, very long time.

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Ian Packer

posted December 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Thanks, Naum… good idea to add in the poor/average reads
Care to ‘spill the beans’ some more on these?
A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass
Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World by John Stackhouse

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