The Official UnsettledChristianity.com Top Five Books of the Year

I had but a few rules to follow – self-imposed rules. First, I had to receive them from a publisher or author. Second, these books are not in any order of preference.

  • Mark Goodacre – This is a bit of a quandary. I received the book directly from the author, signed actually. As any discerning reader of this blog will know, I subscribe to the Austin Farrer-Michael Goulder Law of the Non-Existence of Q. While this book is not about Q, it does hold several sound principles that can be later used in discussing Q. So, why this book: Thomas and The Gospels (Eerdmans)? I guess for me, the essential element in this book is the promise it holds. I have to agree with most if not all of the conclusions while trying to remain unbiased.What promise? I guess it goes back to page 2 when Goodacre is discussing this idea of an autonomous Thomas. What if there were not many trajectories but a nearly steady one in early /an/Christianity, at least in the early /an/Christian literary tradition? Goodacre sums this words up nicely on 194 when he discusses the role of the Synoptics in Thomas, as a way to use their authority in his own. Thus the power of allusion in authority.

    The promise is this: What if the literary tradition is not as divergent was we would like to believe, as if there were no real Markan, Matthean, Lukan, Johannine, and Thomasine communities, but Markan crisis, a Matthean crisis, a Lukan crisis, a crises handled by John, and finally, something Thomas dealt with? But each crisis was handled with the tools of the previous author — the text, style, and liberty of the previous crisis manager?

  • Jens Zimmermann‘s book on Incarnational Humanism (IVP-Academic) is a powerful follow-up to Papal encyclicals  the recent interest in Bonhoeffer, and our sudden realization that the Church in the West is dying (or losing a visible stranglehold) at the same time we realize that life is being devalued in our society. Arguably one of the most theo/philosophically in depth and enriching books I’ve read this year.
  • N. Clayton Croy: Prima Scripture: An Introduction to New Testament Interpretation (Baker Academic). This is a uniquely Wesleyan way of exegetical methods. This promises to do what recent exegesis handbooks could not — pay attention to the cognitive influences around us.
  • C. Marvin Pate: From Plato to Jesus: What Does Philosophy have to do with Theology (Kregel Academic). I can’t get this book out of my head. I do not allows agree with his conclusions, but his philosophical middle ground is a path forward often lacking in our theological spectrums.

    I would personally enjoy a book by Pate and Zimmerman.

  • Edward Vick’s: From Inspiration to Understanding: Reading the Bible Seriously and Faithfully (Energion). My goodness… if only every liberal Christian and fundamentalist Christian would read this book. Vick takes his years of teaching, praying, studying, and leading and turns them into what I can only describe as a treatise — a tome, a magnum opus.

Honorable Mention (i.e., Books I didn’t review for a publisher, but still read):

Gary Neal HansonKneeling with Giants: Learning to Pray with History’s Best Teachers (Intervarsity Press) – I gave away several copies of this book. You need to read it. Trust me.

Jim West: Christ our Captain – An Introduction to Huldrych Zwingli:

The volume in hand is a small contribution to the relatively small pool of scholarship in the English speaking world on the life and thought of Huldrych Zwingli. Whereas Luther and Calvin are widely known and their works widely available in English, Zwingli has not been so fortunate.

The writing style is nice and flowing. Zwingli is presented with the adoration due him, but without the angelic gaze offered to Luther by Lutherans and Calvin by Calvinists.

Adam Winn - Not sure why I need to say anything else about this one. The only reason this is not on the top 5 list is because I bought this book last year (why isn’t it on kindle so I can buy it again?) and reviewed this year.

Post By Joel Watts (10,115 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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