Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Top 20 books that have influenced me

A couple of weeks ago, Christianity Today published a list of the Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals. It’s a fascinating list, which reveals a great deal (both good and bad!) about North American evangelicalism.

Anyway, in response I thought I’d try to come up with my own list of the “Top 20 Books That Have Influenced Me Theologically.” The list excludes books from other disciplines (e.g. biblical studies, philosophy – although I’ve made one exception for a book of poems), and it’s limited to one volume per author.

You might like to come up with your own list as well. Here’s mine:

20. G. C. Berkouwer, Holy Scripture
19. Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Theology of Karl Barth
18. David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite
17. Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations, Vol. 4
16. Hendrikus Berkhof, Christian Faith
15. Hans Küng, The Incarnation of God
14. T. F. Torrance, Theological Science
13. George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine
12. Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God
11. Gerhard Ebeling, The Problem of Historicity
10. Friedrich Schleiermacher, Brief Outline on the Study of Theology
9. George Herbert, The Temple
8. Eberhard Jüngel, God as the Mystery of the World
7. Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology
6. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, Part One
5. Robert W. Jenson, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1
4. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
3. Augustine, Confessions
2. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus – God and Man
1. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II/2

12 Comments:

D.W. Congdon said...

I'm rather shocked to see how high Pannenberg is on your list, and that D. B. Hart is even on your list. But your list overall shows a judicious selection of titles. I can concur with most of the titles.

Question: Do the book titles represent the book by that author which actually influenced you the most or simply the book that you read first by that author? If the former, then I am surprised by some of the choices, like Brief Outline by Schleiermacher, and The Problem of Historicity by Ebeling.

Michael Joseph said...

My Top 20

byron said...

My Top 20

No Cranmer? That was the surprise omission for me.

Chris Tilling said...

Hi Ben, thanks for this list - I always enjoy reading this sort of thing. I was surprised you opted for CD II/2 and not one of the volumes in CD IV given things you've said on the blog before.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Are you just a theologian? Even if you restrict it to influences upon your theology that's a quite stupendous emphasis upon heavyweight theologians. I realise that was your intention, but in terms of what has actually shaped your theological perspective how important are these compared to, eg, novels (say Karamazov, if that has influenced you)?

Back in March I did a 'ten books that have influenced me' post, and only a minority were theological (and it was in biographical/chronological order). I'd be interested to see a top 20 of what has influenced the whole of you, not just your theological perspective.

joshua said...

rev. sam,
i had a hard time playing by the rules and wanted to include both philosophy and literature. in the end, i plan on making two more lists with those.
anyway, if anyone is interested, i got my list over at my site.

Pontificator said...

Trackback Pontifications

Ben Myers said...

Thanks for these comments -- I've enjoyed reading these other Top 20 lists as well.

To respond to a few queries: Yes, Chris, CD IV is my favourite part of Barth's work. But II/2 is the volume that influenced me most -- reading this volume was a huge turning-point for me, and it really transformed the way I thought about all theological topics.

David: sorry to "shock" you -- D. B. Hart's book has especially helped me to think about creation and creaturely difference. I know you're not fond of the book -- but for me personally, it's one of the best things I've read on the meaning of creation. But turning to more important matters: why don't you like Schleiermacher's Brief Outline? I reckon it's a masterpiece, still the best work of its kind. This book has deeply shaped my understanding of what theology is all about, and of the way theology relates both to the church and the academy.

Sam: you're right -- it's a bit arbitrary to highlight only academic influences. If I were to include more non-theological influences, I'd also be mentioning people like Milton, Donne, Kant, Hegel, Melville, Twain, Hopkins, T. S. Eliot, Hemingway, Samuel Beckett, Graham Greene, Patrick White, John Updike, Kevin Hart, and (of course) Bob Dylan!

Byron: why would I need Cranmer when I can read George Herbert? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Knowing of my interest in G C Berkouwer, you will not be surprised to know that I was pleased to see that you have included his book, 'Holy Scripture' in your list of 20 books.
My article - Pride & Faith in Berkouwer's Studies in Dogmatics - is now online (link at www.theologicalstudiesorguk.blogspot.com Oct 16 - this also gives a link to A Biblical Approach to Theodicy). Another article now online is Lamentations (link - www.biblicalstudiesorguk.blogspot.com)

scott harrington said...

These are the Top 26 books that have influenced me:

1. Anonymous. The Way of A Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way.
2. Feodor Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov.
3. Gillquist. The Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms, NKJV.
4. Holy Apostles Convent. The Orthodox New Testament. Volume I, The Gospels.
5. Holy Apostles Convent. The Orthodox New Testament. Volume II, Acts, Epistles, Revelation.
6. Gillquist. Becoming Orthodox.
7. Ostroumoff. The History of the Council of Florence.
8. St. Photios. The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit.
9. Ware. The Orthodox Church.
10. Ware. The Orthodox Way.
11. Schaeffer. Dancing Alone.
12. Schaeffer. Letters to Father Aristotle.
13. Schmemann. For the Life of the World.
14. Schmemann. Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy.
15. Coniaris. Introducing the Orthodox Church.
16. The Cenacle. The Myth of Papal Infallibility.
17. Hierodeacon. The Church, Tradition, Scripture, Truth, and Christian Life.
18. Fr. Simon. Old Orthodox Prayer Book.
19. Gillquist. The Physical Side of Being Spiritual.
20. Wojtyla. Love and Responsibility.
21. Kierkegaard. Works of Love.
22. Kierkegaard. Philosophical Fragments.
23. Kierkegaard. Attack Upon Christendom.
24. Kierkegaard. The Difference Between A Genius and An Apostle.
25. Kelly. A Theory of Personality.
26. Romanides. Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine.

scott harrington said...

These are the Top 26 books that have influenced me:

1. Anonymous. The Way of A Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way.
2. Feodor Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov.
3. Gillquist. The Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms, NKJV.
4. Holy Apostles Convent. The Orthodox New Testament. Volume I, The Gospels.
5. Holy Apostles Convent. The Orthodox New Testament. Volume II, Acts, Epistles, Revelation.
6. Gillquist. Becoming Orthodox.
7. Ostroumoff. The History of the Council of Florence.
8. St. Photios. The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit.
9. Ware. The Orthodox Church.
10. Ware. The Orthodox Way.
11. Schaeffer. Dancing Alone.
12. Schaeffer. Letters to Father Aristotle.
13. Schmemann. For the Life of the World.
14. Schmemann. Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy.
15. Coniaris. Introducing the Orthodox Church.
16. The Cenacle. The Myth of Papal Infallibility.
17. Hierodeacon. The Church, Tradition, Scripture, Truth, and Christian Life.
18. Fr. Simon. Old Orthodox Prayer Book.
19. Gillquist. The Physical Side of Being Spiritual.
20. Wojtyla. Love and Responsibility.
21. Kierkegaard. Works of Love.
22. Kierkegaard. Philosophical Fragments.
23. Kierkegaard. Attack Upon Christendom.
24. Kierkegaard. The Difference Between A Genius and An Apostle.
25. Kelly. A Theory of Personality.
26. Romanides. Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine.

Charlie said...

An update to my earlier comment - with a better link to the articles (and other articles and some "Bible Study" resources.

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