Top Biblical Studies Books 2012

The final week of the year is the time when the blogosphere makes there “top ten” lists for the year. I suppose this should be entitled, “top ten books I have personally read this year and found quite useful.”  If you are reading this blog, you probably have a sense that my top ten are not going to jive very well with the Amazon top religious books of the year or the top Christian best sellers. (I am just not that into soft-core Amish romance novels, sorry.)

As a result, this list is completely focused on me and my interests, and is probably “Grand Rapids-centric.” Living in the same town as Eerdmans, Baker, Zondervan and Kregel helps to expand one’s library. An additional complication is that there are quite a few books I only discovered this year but are in fact a few years old. These “new to me” books are not included on this list.

As always, these are just my opinions, read Jim West’s recent comments on these sort of “best of 2012 lists.”   There are many more of these sorts of lists cropping up around the blogosphere.  For example, here is a great of books which differs from mine considerably from Scot McKnight at JesusCreed, or Joel Watts at Unsettled Christianity.

Old_booksOld Testament

Mark J. Broda and J Gordon McConville, Dictionary of Old Testament Prophets. All of the IVP Dictionaries are worth having, this one finishes out the series. Concise introductions to all the biblical prophets, several with “history of interpretation” sections. There are excellent bibliographies at the end of each entry. One problem, there are now two dictionaries in this series which can be abbreviated DOTP.  This bothers my OCD just a bit.

Second Temple Period

A Companion to Biblical Interpretation in Early Judaism, ed. Henze. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2012. This is a collection of essays covering biblical interpretation from the Hebrew Bible through the Second Temple Period, including Qumran and the Hellenistic Judaism of Philo and Josephus.

George Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam. 1 Enoch: The Hermenia Translation. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012. This is technically not a new book since the translation appeared in the Hermenia commentary on 1 Enoch, but the publication of just the translation in a handy (and inexpensive) format is welcome. I look forward to picking up a few more in this series, 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch, for example.

New Testament: Gospels

Frederick Dale Bruner, John. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2012. Sometimes reading a commentary is a chore, but Bruner’s style makes for easy reading. I particularly like the beginning of each section where he collects a few excellent quotes from a wide range of commentaries on John.

Jonathan Pennington, Reading the Gospels Wisely. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2012. I reviewed this book for a journal and it was a very enjoyable read. Pennington describes a theological – narrative hermenutical method which could be applied to any narrative portion of scripture. He does not dismiss historical studies, but favors a reading of the Gospels which stands on the foundation of history but also attempts to apply the text to the present church.

Craig Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables, Second Edition. Downers Grove, Ill. Inter-Varsity Press, 2012. This has long been my favorite book on parables and it is good to see a “substantially revised” edition.

New Testament: Acts

Craig S. Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 1. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2012. This is monster commentary with 638 pages of introduction to the study of Acts and commentary on the first two chapters of the book, for a total of 1038 pages. The volume comes with a CD-ROM containing indices and bibliography – a PDF file with another 426 pages! Since I am teaching Acts this semester, I expect to have a number of posts through the winter and spring based on my reading of this book.

While not as epic as Keener, Eckhard J. Schnabel, Acts (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2012) is worth a look. It is another huge commentary on Acts, part of the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series. I list it here

Darrell Bock, A Theology of Luke and Acts. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2012. This forms a sort of conclusion to Bock’s BENTC commentaries on Luke and Acts and is similar in approach to Köstenberger’s Theology of John (2011).

New Testament: Paul

Colin Kruse, Romans. PNTC; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2012. I reviewed this commentary more in-depth in August. I have found all the Pillar commentaries I have used useful, and it is nice to see a commentary which is not over 1000 pages.

Constantine R. Campbell. Paul Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2012. This is a thorough study of the idea of being “in Christ” in the Pauline letters. Large sections of this book are detailed exegetical studies of prepositional phrases like “in Christ,” “through Christ,” etc. The chapter on Pauline metaphors for union with Christ is worth the price of the book alone.

New Testament: Revelation

Paige Patterson, Revelation. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2012. This recent addition to the NAC series is somewhat unique in today’s crowded field of Revelation commentaries since Patterson attempts to read Revelation from the perspective of a premillennialist as well as a pretribulational Rapture. It is strange to say that this is unique, but most recent commentaries have dispensed with this sort of thing (Fee, for example). I include it here since I think there is a need for a pre-mil, pre-trib voice on Revelation.

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