Best Reads From 2015
As with last year, I’m won’t restrict myself to books released in 2015 since there are plenty of important books from this year that I haven’t (yet) read. So this is no attempt for inspired list of “best” books of 2015, and the age of a book alone shouldn’t determine it’s quality anyway. No, this is a subjective list of books – in no particular order – that impacted me most this year, and a little on why.
Michael S. Heiser – The Unseen Realm (2015)
This was my most anticipated book for the year, and it did not disappoint. The Unseen Realm is an eye-opening and provocative look at the Biblical teaching on the, well, unseen realm. There is far more than most of us assume, and Heiser brings this to light through clear prose with abundant footnotes for further study. This is my favourite book of the year because its contents caused a paradigm shift for how I – and my wife – read the Bible and conceive of the world in which we live.
Daniel Block – Deuteronomy (NIVAC, 2012)
Deuteronomy is one of those books that can be quite daunting or uninteresting for the average Christian, so we often need help not only understanding its message but also its relevance for New Covenant believers. While Block sees a little more continuity between covenants than I do, his Deuteronomy commentary was one of the best I have ever read. His insights into how the laws were not only gracious, but how they instruct us today, were revolutionary. Read this and never doubt the relevance of Deuteronomy again!
J. Richard Middleton – A New Heaven and a New Earth (2014)
I was quite familiar with the concept of “holistic salvation” and its Biblical support, but Middleton provided the best holistic argument for holistic salvation I’d read to date. This would be my go-to resource for anyone who asks what this is all about or anyone that sees salvation as merely about “an internal relationship with God until I go to heaven when I die”.
Read my review.
O. Palmer Robertson – The Flow of the Psalms (2015)
The Psalter is not like a “greatest hits” collection of songs to be heard as desired, but rather a concept album in which to be immersed. Individual Psalms should be read in light of each other and the overall “story” of the Psalter. This kind of approach is has been recently reclaimed by scholarship and is beginning to trickle down to wider audiences. Robertson’s Flow of the Psalms is the best introduction to such an approach.
Michael K. Snearly – The Return of the King (2015)
While teaching Psalms at CCBCY this semester, I was a little intimidated by Book V of the Psalter but Snearly’s Return of the King was invaluable for grasping the Book as a whole. Snearly argues that the Book is divided into five sub-sections around key words: Hesed & Olam (Ps 107-118), Torah (Ps 119), Zion (Ps 120-137), David (Ps 138-145), Hallelujah (Ps 146-150). This is both pedagogically simple and intellectually convincing.
David Gundersen – Davidic Hope in Book IV of the Psalter (2015)
Technically not a published book but a dissertation at SBTS [pdf] under James Hamilton, Davidic Hope is a beautifully written and thoroughly researched argument for recognizing a hope for a New David in Book IV of the Psalter. Yes, I realize this is probably obscure, even for this blog, but I enjoyed this a ton in preparation for teaching Book IV at CCBCY.
G. K. Beale – A New Testament Biblical Theology (2011)
One day, I will finish this book. Until then, every time I opened up A New Testament Biblical Theology over the years I was intellectually challenged and stimulated. Most interesting are the intertextual links between Old and New Testaments.
Robert Ewusie Moses – Practices of Power (2014)
Many have studied Paul’s concept of principalities and powers, but Moses investigates the practices that Paul prescribes in relation to them. In other words, rather than discussing what they are, this book discusses what believers should do about them. Though I disagree with some of Moses’ presuppositions and conclusions, this book bore fruit in my own life, especially in seeing “normal” Christian practices as spiritual warfare.
My review series here.
Daniel Block – By / Beyond the River Chebar (2013)
I’ve long loved Ezekiel but struggled to understand, frankly, most of it! Daniel Block’s two collections of essays on Ezekiel helped me grasp Ezekiel on a greater level. Along with Gundersen, I suspect this recommendation is a little more on the subjective side; but then, if understanding Ezekiel was helpful for me, then why not you?
Thomas Schreiner – Hebrews (2015)
Schreiner is one of my favourite commentators and his work on Hebrews only solidifies that estimation. I am far from a Hebrews expert, so I’m not sure how much of his material was unique, but I enjoyed Schreiner’s prose and conclusions, as well as the distinctiveness of the new Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series.
Read my review here.
Readers will notice that my interests are restricted to Biblical studies. I don’t read particularly broadly because I lose interest easily in anything else. Right now I am in a period of deep study of the Word, but doubt it will continue at this pace and with this level of exclusivity forever.
That said, I did work through the first two of Lewis’ Space Trilogy books and enjoyed them thoroughly!
Honorable Mention: David Mitchell – The Songs of Ascents (2015)
I’ve only just begun reading this Christmas present, and wow. You will be hearing about this one.
2015 Reads & Reviews
Here is a complete list of all the theological and Biblical studies books I read this year, with links to reviews. This is the pool from which I drew my list above. If you think I missed something amazing from 2015, let me know!
- G.K. Beale and Benjamin Gladd – Hidden But Now Revealed
- Daniel Block – By the River Chebar
- Doug Moo – Encountering the Book of Romans
- Various – Studies in the Pauline Epistles
- Bateman, Bock, and Johnson – Jesus the Messiah
- Robert Ewusie Moses – Practices of Power
- Daniel Block – Deuteronomy (NIVAC)
- Daniel Block – Beyond the River Chebar
- Richard Hays – Reading Backwards
- Kevin Vanhoozer – Faith Speaking Understanding
- Marvin Pate – Apostle of the Last Days
- Colin Kruse – Romans (Pillar)
- Richard Middleton – A New Heaven and A New Earth
- Simon Gathercole – Defending Substitution
- Various – Perspectives on Our Struggle with Sin
- Simon Gathercole – The Preexistent Son
- G.K. Beale – God Dwells Among Us
- Graeme Goldsworthy – The Son of God and the New Creation
- Thomas Schreiner – Hebrews (BTCP)
- O. Palmer Robertson – The Flow of the Psalms
- Robert Stein – Jesus, the Temple and the Coming Son of Man
- Rikk E. Watts – Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark
- Michael Gorman – The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant
- Dean Davis – The High King of Heaven
- Derek Kidner – Psalms 1-72 (Tyndale)
- Derek Kidner – Psalms 73-150 (Tyndale)
- Michael Snearly – The Return of the King
- Willem VanGemeren – Psalms (REBC)
- Mark Strauss – Mark (ZECNT)
- Various – Central Themes in Biblical Theology
Stay tuned for some exciting news at the beginning of 2016!