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Book List 2008-2011

This list has been imported from AFeatherAdrift. Many of these books have also been reviewed, and can be found there under “Book Reviews” in the categories.

[Nov. 15, 2008] Ehrman, Bart D., Peter, Paul, & Mary Magdalene, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Using canonical and extra canonical sources, Dr. Ehrman explores the facts and myths that surround the lives of these three important Christian personages. Written for a general audience. (**** recommended)

[Dec. 4, 2008] Borg, Marcus and Crossan, John Dominic, The First Christmas, NY: Harper Collins, 2007. An exploration of the birth stories of Luke and Matthew. The theme is the use of Christian theology against that of the imperial theology represented by Rome. A very interesting and thoroughly enlightening look at both Evangelists and what they were attempting to do via their Christmas stories. Written for a general audience. (****recommended)

[January 3, 2009] Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship, NY: McMillan Publishing Co., 1976 (first printing 1937). Bonhoeffer in wonderful analysis describes what it means to be a real disciple of Christ. We learn of the cheap grace versus costly grace. He does a lovely job of interpreting the Beatitudes as well. This was written before his work with the underground to stop Hitler and before his incarceration in the death camps. A scholarly exercise in what discipleship truly is. (****recommended)

[February 20, 2009] S. Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941). (No doubt more recent publishings are available today.) An exploration of Abraham’s offering to God of Isaac and the philosophical implications. S.K. uses this to explain and trace his own “sacrifice” of Regina, his fiance`. Various other “tragic” heroes are explored for input into the psychological state of the hero and what it teaches us. Not for the feint of heart, tough reading.  (**recommended for the serious theology student)

[February 24, 2009] Victor Paul Furnish, The Moral Teachings of Paul, (Nashville: Abington Press, 1979). An exegetical look at Paul’s writings as they relate to marriage, homosexuality, women, and the Christian response to authority. Now in a third printing, this book, though dated remains on the mark. You can look at a analysis by me at http://godlytalk.wordpress.com.  (****recommended)

[March 12, 2009] Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation. (NY: Oxford University Press, 2006) All meditation goes along basically the same lines. Sit, silence, mantra, focused attention. Variations are few. This is hands down the best I have ever read. It explains the steps, explains what to expect, pitfalls, obstacles, and how to define when you have reached each level. (*****highly recommended)

[May 2, 2009] Ann Spangler, Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith. ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009) See my review of this book under “book reviews.” This is really an excellent way to improve your understanding of Jesus’ message. Jesus as thoroughly Jewish, and knowing that will help any serious student better understand what he was saying and who he was. (****highly recommended especially for the pastoral student)

[May 11, 2009] Walter Wink, The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millennium, (NY: Doubleday, 1998) Wink shows how Jesus’ mission was a non-violent resistance to the Domination powers of his day. He teaches the efficacy of how all beings and entities are infused with the Spirit, were created good, and what evil infests them can be transformed. We must learn non-violent resistance, by transforming ourselves and our world. This is the Kingdom God wishes us to have. (******superb, quite simply. A must read for any Christian.)

[May 16, 2009] Marcus Borg and J. Dominic Crossan, The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church’s Conservative Icon. (NY:HarperOne, 2009) If you want to understand Paul and clear up the inconsistencies that appear in his “letters” this is the book. If you have been told and/or concluded that Paul was just not a friend to women or gays, then read this. If you have never understood Romans and Paul’s discourse on justification and grace and works, then read this. It’s a must for any serious student. Written for the average reader. (*****highly recommended for every Christian)

[May 27,2009] Tobias S. Haller, Reasonable and Holy:Engaging Same Sexuality, (NY: Seabury Books, 2009). An excellent examination of the issue of same-sex relationships and the Bible. Haller explores thoroughly all the arguments put forth against the recognition of gay marriage, and dispels them one by one. An excellent textbook for use in either college courses or in a church setting. Recommended highly to every thinking person to understand the subject. (*****highly recommended)

[June 9, 2009] Bart Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) Professor Ehrman continues to write great books for the average person exposing the realities of the Bible. No threat the faith, they simply put the book into prospective and help us better understand the life and times of Jesus and his followers. (*****highly recommended)

[July 13, 2009] Robert Wright, The Evolution of God. (New York: Little Brown & Co. 2009). Mr. Wright takes us on a scholarly tour of the bible, making a strong case that God evolves as humans have need of him to do to support human endeavors. Still, Wright argues that this doesn’t necessarily mean that God is wholly a human creation. And he argues that our major religions can work for good in the world, evidenced in their respective sacred texts, by returning to a belief that we are all involved in a non-zerosum game. Excellent reading. (*****highly recommended)

[July 22, 2009] Robin R. Meyers, Saving God from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus. (New York: HarperOne, 2009). An absolutely must read for every church. Meyer’s reclaims Jesus from creedal belief and returns him to his rightful place as showing us the way to relationship with God through love and compassion, service and empathy. He shows how the Christ was a later development of a growing hierarchical church, and not the peasant from Galilea. He gives hope in reclaiming the tens of thousands who have departed, disgusted with churches that deny science and people who think, yet are spiritual and hungry to make a difference in the world. (*****highly recommended)

[August 5, 2009] Charlotte Gordon, The Woman Who Named God, (New York: Little Brown and Co., 2009) This is a delightful telling of the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar told from a literary perspective. The author has well schooled herself in exegesis, anthropology, archaeology, and theology, yet is able to weave  a story that is compelling and beautiful. There is food for the serious student, as well as the more pastorally inclined. (****recommended)

[August 21, 2009] N.T.Wright, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, (Downer’s Grove: IVP, 2009). Wright is an acknowledged giant in the field of Pauline theology. Here he takes on John Piper and lays out his case for the covenantal theory of Pauline justification. Jesus is the always planned final conclusion of the exile and the God working through Israel for the world’s salvation. Informative in laying out the various theories and making his case. (****recommended)

[August 28, 2009] Jason Frenn, Breaking the Barriers: Overcoming Adversity and Reaching Your Greatest Potential, (New York: Faith Words, 2009). A prosperity type self-help book from a missionary evangelist. Lots of feely good information about how to live a God directed life and gain success and have your personal needs met. If you like that sort of thing. (* recommended only for evangelical types) [Book Giveaway]

[September 12, 2009] Bill Donohue, Secular Sabotage: How Liberals are Destroying Religion and Culture in America, (New York: Faith Words, 2009). Better titled, a book of my hates. Donohue goes back and forth between attacking all the usual suspects, (anyone who doesn’t agree with him) and touting his own efforts to stop these godless groups. He doesn’t approach proving his titled claim. (Not recommended) [Book Giveaway]

[October 23, 2009] Norman Habel, Literary Criticism of the Old Testament, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971) A nice overview of how literary criticism is done. Plenty of examples to show the student how the bible is revealed by such exegesis. Serious students of the bible will find this book helpful in laying out the basics of determining structure, style, forms and sources in defining Biblical passages. (*****highly recommended)

[November 12, 2009] Jeffrey Johnson, Got Style, (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2009) A new look at evangelism and how personality types can be discerned and then used to effectively preach the good news. Excellent resource for churches and individuals who wish to get out the Good News. (****recommended)

[November 17, 2009] Von Rad, Gerhard, Genesis, ( Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961) Considered a classic in the area of biblical exegesis. The material is dated in some respects but Von Rad is still considered one of the best. Worth the read, especially if read in conjunction with others on the same subject. (*****highly recommended)

[November 20, 2009] Brueggemann, Walter, Genesis, (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982). A true classic in pastoral interpretation. Brueggemann is pure genius and his reflections are brilliant. There is plenty of exegesis as well, but the heart-stopping beauty of his words are most effect in the pastoral mode. A must for anyone who would really “get” Genesis. (*****highly recommended)

[November 21, 2009] Crossan, John D. and Reed, Jonathan L., In Search of Paul: How Jesus’s Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco,2004) Crossan takes us on an archaelogical tour of the Middle East and Rome to show us that Paul was indeed a radical missionary teaching a subversive doctrine that was treasonous to Rome’s interests. A compelling argument. Serious students will find this book essential to a well grounded theory of Pauline theology. (*****highly recommended)

[December 12, 2009] McKenzie, Steven L., and Haynes, Stephen R., editors, To Each Its Own Meaning, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999). This is an introductory text on the various types of biblical criticism. There are more than ten different chapters, each discussing a type of criticism and then applying it to a bible text to show how it’s used. Absolutely useful to the true student. Probably of less interest to the general reader. (*****highly recommended if this is your cup of tea).

[December 19, 2009] Brown, Rosalind, Being a Deacon Today, (Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing, 2005). An excellent expression of the calling of deacon in the Episcopal church. Focusing on the service and liturgical duties. If you are interested in the deaconate, this would be an excellent book to learn from and humble you mightily. (****recommended)

[December 31, 2009] Noth, Martin, Exodus, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962). Somewhat dated material but still one of the better classic commentaries on the subject. Noth was a student of Von Rad. A technical book dissecting the various traditions that contributed to the book of Exodus. (****recommended for the serious student–not for the general reader)

[December 31, 2009] Plater, Ormonde, Many Servants: An Introduction to Deacons, (Cambridge: Cowley Publications, 1991) This examines the Episcopal Deaconate from a historical prospective. It traces the position of Deacon from the bible until modern times, reviewing its near disappearance and resurrection in the church at large, but also specific to TEC. (***recommended for a general idea of where the position is from and likely going.)

[January 22, 2010] Rohr, Richard, The Naked Now, (New York: Crossroads Publishing Co., 2009) A wonderful inspirational book on meditation, contemplation and the spiritual journey to experience the divine. Fr. Rohr urges us to move beyond creeds, and required ritual to go inward to explore the spiritual landscape of ourselves. With much practical advice, and beautiful analogy, the student will learn what the mystics have always known. Really knowing God comes from letting go. (*****highly recommended for anyone serious in exploring their faith.)

[February 21, 2010]MacQuarrie, John, Principles of Christian Theology, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1966). A leading theologian of systematic theology, Dr. MacQuarrie fleshes out a readable theology of God and faith. While it is technical, the average reader can gain much from the text. While many have moved away from this theology, there is still much of worth in it. (***recommended for the serious student who wishes to be well rounded in theological schools.)

[March 4, 2010] Trible, Phyllis, God and The Rhetoric of Sexuality, (Philadelphia:Fortress Press, 1978). Rhetorical critical analysis of women in the Old Testament, focusing on the “Fall” Ruth, and Song of Songs. A serious treatment of the subject by a expert in sacred scripture at UTS in NYC. (***recommended for the serious student of biblical studies and feminism)

[March 22, 2010] Nicola Denzey, The Bone Gatherers, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2007). An exploration of women in the church during the fourth century BCE. Mostly relates to the women who gathered the bodies of saints, buried them, and created tombs that are now tourist attractions around Rome. The Vatican has taken over care of these. From them we learn something of the power and work of women in the early church before male patriarchy reduced women to marginalized roles. (** not as good as I expected. But interesting none the less)

[April 26, 2010] Erin Healy, Never Let You Go, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010) A Christian fiction story about good and evil. Nothing heavy here, average literature, but a great fun read for the beach this summer. (**enjoyable but nothing to write home about)

[May 8, 2010] Colin Brown, Christianity and Western Thought, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2010) A survey of philosophic thought from pre-Socratic to the Elightenment and Kant. Exploring the nexus of Christian thought as it developed within the greater philosophic movements of the times. This is tough reading for the non-philosophy major at best, but worth the time to work through it. It puts a good deal of the “proof of God” issues into prospective and is a great go-to text as a start to further investigation. Great bibliography and notes. (****highly recommended for someone who is determined to understand the nexus of philosophy and Christian theology)

[May 25, 2010] Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle,  (New York: HarperOne) 2009. A radical new look at Paul. The author claims that Paul never converted to anything, but remained thoroughly Jewish. She sees his message as informed by a strong believe that the end was near and that Jesus was sent to justify the Gentiles as Torah and covenant had justified the Jews. (A must reading for any serious student of the bible. If you want to understand Paul, then this view is part of the arsenal!)

[June 8, 2010] Bernhard W. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament, 4th Edition, (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall) 1986. Note that there are at least a 5th and possibly 6th editions available at much steeper prices! This is a classic in the field and much used as a textbook. If you want to get a very firm grip on how the Hebrew Testament came to be, this is the book you need to read. It really pulls it all together within the framework of history. You will never see the OT the same again. (Most Highly recommended ******)

[June 10, 2010] Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History, (New York, Penguin Books) 2003. An extremely detailed look at the reformation, covering from 1490-1700. Over 700 pages exploring the impact throughout Europe. This is more than the average person would want or need to know. But if you like the minutia of it all, this is the book. Well researched and footnoted. (****recommended)

[June 10, 2010] Lief Enger, Peace Like a River, (New York: Grove Press) 2001. This is a piece of fiction written by a genius. It is beautiful, captivating, and thoroughly what fiction is all about. You are sucked into this family, love them all, pull for them to succeed, and are on the edge of your seat at the end. It is satisfying, yet you would wish it never ended. This is a rare find. (******highly recommended)

[July 02, 2010] Don Schweitzer, Contemporary Christologies, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press) 2010. An excellent introduction to the Christological theology, especially at it relates to atonement theory. Nice short synopses of fifteen theologians and their positions. Great jumping off place for further study. To someone interested in theology, a nice beginning read. (****recommended)

[July 05,2010]Ed. Marion Meade, The Portable Dorothy Parker, (New York: The Penguin Group) 2006. If you are a fan then this is the book for you. Just a superb collection of her short stories, poetry and reviews. Makes you definitely want to learn more about her life. I cannot recommend too highly to the reader who likes good writing. (*****highly recommended)

[July 16, 2010] Jennie R. Ebeling, Women’s Lives in Biblical Times, (NY: T & T Clark Publishing) 2010. Well documented account of life in Iron AgeI times in the Middle East. Combining archaeology, biblical exegesis, iconography and other disciplines, we see a portrait of women’s time that would have been quite similar to that of the time of the bible. It wonderfully informs our understanding of the bible. Easy for the layperson. (****highly recommended)

[July 23, 2010] William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, ( NY: Barnes & Noble Classics) 2004 republication of 1902 edition. At the dawn of psychology, Dr. James explores the validity of religous experience, denying that it must pass some objective scientific standard to be acceptable as true. He distinguishes personal “religious experience” from the formal religion of the church. Excellent insights, still a valuable read. (***recommended)

[July 27, 2o10] Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: A New Vision, (San Francisco: Harper One) 1987. Marcus Borg with loving scholarship draws a picture of Jesus as Spirit filled sage, Jewish revitalizer, prophet and healer. Debunking old and unsupportable images for ones that are biblical and historical, we see Jesus in a light that we can indeed emulate. A wonderful wonderful book. Read it. (*****highly recommended)

[Aug 6, 2010] Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 1990. Stories of Vietnam by a Vet. Simply wonderfully written. O’Brien is a gifted writer who manages to give a vivid account of what it meant to be a grunt in Vietnam. For the vet, and anyone who loves a vet. (****highly recommended)

[ Aug. 15, 2010] Albert Camus, The Rebel, (New York: Random House) 1956 A difficult read on the man’s struggle with the state. This is the politics of revolution. Camus treats of all the major thinkers. Heavy duty philosophy. Not for the faint of heart. (***recommended)

[Aug 31, 2010] Eds. Mary E. Hunt & Diann L. Neu, New Feminist Christianity (Woodstock: Skylight Paths) 2010. Just a wonderful anthology of Christian feminists engaged in myriads of areas of women’s concerns including theology, biblical studies, liturgy. Where we are, and where we need to go. (****highly recommended)

[ Sept. 9, 2010] Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations, (New York: Scribner & Sons) 1948. A collection of Tillich’s sermons. These are simply exquisite. He speaks so eloquently of a time just after the horrors of WWII, yet is still fresh today. His only problem seems to be that he didn’t know of the existence of women! Still a must spiritual read. (*****highly recommended)

[Oct. 1, 2010] Jason Frenn, Power to Reinvent Yourself, (New York: FaithWorks) 2010. Well know speaker and evangelist, Frenn shows how one can overcome life’s challenges by a serious and honest determination of the problem, and why it needs changing, and gathering all the forces of family, friends, professionals, and a lively relationship with God in order to succeed. A reasonable assist for the truly motivated. (***recommended)

[Oct 7, 2010] Paul Tillich, The New Being, (New York, Charles Scribner’s & Sons) 1955. More sermons of Tillich’s which delve into love, faith, truth, and many other timeless issues of our world. These sermons are as relevant today as they were when written. (except for Tillich’s failure to recognize women exist much!) (highly recommended ****)

[Dec 7, 2010]David B. Burrell, editor, et al, Creation and the God of Abraham, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge) 2010. This is an extraordinary tour-de-force into the concept of creatio ex nihilo and how it compares or conflicts with science, philosophy, or theology. A difficult book for the unschooled in these subjects, but worth it. There is simply a wonderous amount of information and frankly inspiration here. (highly recommended *****) Note: very pricy.

[Dec 19, 2010] William C. Plachter, Mark (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible), (Westminster John Knox Press) 2010. The opening book of a new series by the publisher. Mark is examined from a theological point of view but with input from exegesis, history, anthropology, and linguistics. What comes out is a thoroughly entertaining and impressive picture of the theology of Mark and what it means for us today. (highly recommended *****)

[Jan 4, 2011] Justo L. Gonzalez, Luke (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible), (Westminster John Knox Press) 2010. Following in the footsteps of the above, Gonzales offers a powerful commentary on Luke’s theology seen from a liberation theology point of view. Most readable, and most enlightening. A great commentary. (highly recommended *****)

[Jan 20, 2011] Thom Stark, The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When it Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries to Hide It), WIPF & Stock, Publishers, (2010)The best book I’ve read on why bible inerrancy fails as a doctrine. Stark demolishes it, as well as explaining some very troubling parts of the bible. Wonderful explanation of why we should read the bible critically warts and all. Read this! (highly recommended ******)

[Jan 25, 2011] Jay Bakker, Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self and Society, (FaithWords Publishing, 2011). A book about the saving power of grace, directed to those who are either new to faith, or live on the margins. A reasonably grounded understanding of the bible, which speaks up for the gay community, and away from fundamentalist judgement. (recommended ***)

[Feb 11, 2011] Eds. William H. Shannon, Christine m. Bochen, Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters, (Ave Maria Publishing: Notre Dame, Indiana, 2010). A wonderful collection of Merton’s voluminous letters, grouped in to subject matter. War and peace, the Church, prayer, interfaith dialogue and more. Excellent, and will make you want to read his books. (highly recommended ****)

[Feb 25, 2011] Cynthia Bourgeault, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity, (Boston: Shambhala Publishing) 2010. Rev. Bourgeault, using the biblical texts and the gnostic texts weaves a beautiful picture of this most enigmatic woman, who truly was the first and most important of the apostles. She really “got” Jesus’ message of kenotic love. A must read on your spiritual journey. (*****highly recommended)

[Mar 15, 2011] David H. Hopper, Divine Transcendence and the Culture of Change, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010). Hopper questions the tolerance of today’s culture by tracing change in God’s transcendence from Luther through Bacon and the Enlightenment. Requires careful reading. Only for the serious theology student. Interesting theory. (****recommended)

[Mar 30, 2011]Voltaire, Candide, (New York: Barnes & Noble Classics) 2003. A classic fun read by a masterful story teller. Voltaire explores the philosophy of Leibniz and asks, is this the best of all possible worlds? In the midst of one bizarre tragedy after another, Candide wonders. (*****highly recommended)

[Apr 4, 2011]Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, (Lanham: Cowley Publications) 2004. Simply a wonderful explanation of Centering prayer. After practicing it for a couple of weeks, I’m convinced it is the best of all techniques. This is a reread again and again to delve more deeply into the finer points, but you get the easy instructions at the very beginning. Please try it. (******highly, highly recommended)

[Apr 26, 2011] Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, {New York: Barnes and Noble Classics) 2004. One of Wharton’s best novels on the Golden Age of New York society of the 1870’s. We learn that the rich are not free to live the lives they dream of, but rather that society poses its restrictions on love, life, and profession. A thoroughly good story by a woman raised in the society of which she writes. (***recommended)

[May 1, 2011] Jim Marion, Putting on the Mind of Christ, (Charlottlesville: Hampton Rds, Publishing Co.), 2000. Reread for me, but so much more helpful the second time around. Written by a Catholic, and former monk, it explores the steps to nondual unity with the Godhead. Drawing from Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, and New Age mystics and writings, Marion shows how the enlightened all take the same path regardless of tradition. It may be a bit “out” there for those who are not familiar with mystical writings. (**** highly recommended)

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