Wednesday 23 May 2007

Must-read theological books

Michael Jensen asks for a list of “the must-read theological books that are coming out soon or have recently appeared.” So I thought I’d try to respond with a series of suggestions in various categories.

First of all, though, if you somehow missed David Bentley Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite (Eerdmans, 2003), then you should skip all these other books and start with that one – it will almost certainly prove to be the most important theological work of the decade.

Anyway, here are my selections of “must-read books” under various headings (restricted to books that are forthcoming or that have appeared within the past 18 months or so). These aren’t necessarily my favourite books, but they’re the books that I think are (or will be) “important” in the theological conversation. I’d welcome any other suggestions as well!

Old Testament

New Testament
  • Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Eerdmans, 2006) – I haven’t read this one yet myself, but I’ve read a lot about it at Chrisendom, and it sounds like an extremely challenging revisionist proposal.
Historical theologyTheological method / fundamental theologyDogmatics
  • John Webster, Confessing God (T&T Clark, 2005)
  • Neil MacDonald, Metaphysics and the God of Israel (Paternoster/Baker, 2006) – I’m reading this one at the moment, and will post a review of it soon.
  • Marilyn McCord Adams, Christ and Horrors (Cambridge UP, 2006)
  • Colin Gunton, The Barth Lectures (T&T Clark, forthcoming 2007) – I don’t know whether I’ll like this book, but I reckon it will be very influential.
  • Sarah Coakley, God, Sexuality and the Self: An Essay “On the Trinity” (Cambridge UP, forthcoming 2008) – The first volume of this major new 4-volume project of feminist dogmatics will be sure to make a big impact.
Theology and culture
  • Miroslav Volf, The End of Memory (Eerdmans, 2006)
  • Stanley Hauerwas, The State of the University (Blackwell, 2007) – This was released a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t read it yet, but it will no doubt be a challenging and controversial proposal.
  • Trevor Hart, A Poetics of Redemption, Vol. 1 (WJKP, forthcoming 2007)
  • Gerard Loughlin, ed., Queer Theology (Blackwell, forthcoming 2007) – This collection will be sure to generate a lot of discussion: it includes essays by Graham Ward, Eugene Rogers, Catherine Pickstock, Gerard Loughlin, and others.
Ecumenical theology
  • Tim Perry, Mary for Evangelicals (IVP, 2006)
  • George Hunsinger, Let Us Keep the Feast (Cambridge UP, forthcoming 2008) – A major new attempt at developing an ecumenical approach to eucharistic theology and practice.
Inter-faith dialogue
Theology and science
Digital resource
  • Religion Past and Present, 10 vols. (Brill, 2006 to 2011) – A full English translation of the massive German encyclopedia, Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (RGG).


Felipe Fanuel said...

Thanks for the suggestions!

michael jensen said...

I would place Oliver O'Donovan's Ways of Judgment in the Ethics/Politics section (especially if you are going for such a left-field suggestion as the Loughlin book!)

Ben Myers said...

Oh yeah, I was actually thinking of including Ways of Judgment as well, but I forgot! In any case, it definitely deserves a place on the list.

Steve Wright said...

I was pleased to see that you included Trevor Hart's upcoming series under 'Theology and Culture.'

I believe that a collection of essays edited by Jeremy Begbie is going to be released this year: Musical Theology, (Eerdmans, forthcoming 2007). He is also working on a new monograph slated for publication in 2008: Music, Words and the Future of Theology (OUP, forthcoming 2008). I'm quite interested in the interaction between words and music. I'm keen to read Begbie's observations of this interaction within the theological realm.

Anonymous said...

Although i have little doubt about the lack of admiration many have about "Open Theism," i think that it is fair to say that it is causing quite a stir, and i don't see it going away soon.

With that in mind, the soon to be released "The Myth of the Blueprint" by Gregory Boyd will surely be one of the most groundbreaking books of the time in which we will live. Boyd's undertaking of the most comprehensive look at Platonic philosophy and its influence on theology is surely the most ambitious work that i have ever seen or heard of.

Also, His book "God at War" is destined to become a classic, for better or for worse. In fact, one US denomination (can't remember off the top of my head) has said that it will become the textbook on Spiritual Warfare for them. That's quite an influence.

Lastly, his book "The Myth of a Christian Nation," is sure to become a classic for how Christians are supposed to engage in politics.

I don't love everything he teaches, but i think that his work will have a lasting impact.

Jon said...

Give the poor boy a chance! He's busy reading for his doctoral thesis! If these are all must-reads, he'll never get it done!

Anonymous said...

The books I'm looking forward to are:
John Colwell's Rhythm of Doctrine: A Liturgical Sketch of Christian Faith and Faithfulness - which is a systematic theology based around the christian calendar. (out end of june)
and David Ford's Christian Wisdom (also out in June), a sequel of sorts to Self and Salvation

michael jensen said...

Hmm - I hope it has better jokes than Self and Salvation...

You are right will I ever finish?

Anonymous said...

Derek, do you have any publisher details for the Boyd 'Blueprint' book? I didn't see any pre-order options on Amazon.

Robert Cornwall said...

Wow, I'm already behind in my reading! What a list. It's good to know that the RGG is about to be available in English as the RPP, now I can read my articles I wrote for the RGG, but can't read now because well my German has come and gone!

Anonymous said...

This is helpful. Due to my book-budget, I am usually 2-3 years behind in book purchases and reading, but this is still helpful.

Anonymous said...

I've been lucky enough to have an early read of a couple of chapters of Christian Wisdom and they were excellent


Anonymous said...

Wow, an English edition of RGG! Maybe that will be the publishing event of the decade!

MM said...

Great list.

NB that Volf has something on human flourishing due within the year. Also, William Abraham is working on Muslim- Christian dialogue, also due out soon.

Pliny said...

I love your blog. Thanks for the great list.

Anonymous said...

I have seen Professor Ford's book in various forms and I think it will be well worth the read

::aaron g:: said...

Thanks for the Hauerwas tip. I'll really look forward to this.

Anonymous said...

I know that this doesn't really fall into any of your categories, but I'm really looking forward to the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament edited by Beale & Carson.

Ched said...

A very interesting and diverse list.

Jason said...

Ben et al.,
I agree with your assessment of Paul DeHart's book: not perfect of course, but one of the best contemporary works I have read in the last 12 months. I agree also that DB Hart's book Beauty of the Infinite should be on the list, too.

Another well worth mentioning is Eugene Rogers' book After the Spirit: A Constructive Pneumatology From Resources Outside the Modern West. I think is is not quite 2 years old, so it might barely miss the cut off (18 months, was it?), but it is definitely worth a read.

Finally, I have had the pleasure of having read David Ford's new book (having helped edit and proofread it), and I can confirm that it is quite good and well worth a look.

Mykel G. Larson said...

Olivier Clement, The Roots of Christian Mysticism

Amazon it!

Anonymous said...


Unfortunately, all i know is that Boyd's book "The Myth of the Blueprint" is due out sometime in 2008. He has recently put it on hold since he is planning to put out a new book that talks about what the Kingdom actually is, as opposed to what it is not (see Myth of a Christian Nation).

He has been working on the MOTB for at least 5 years. He actually relearned French and Latin so that he could engage all the original texts on their own turf, so to speak. I'm pumped to see what he is going to say.

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