Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jeff's Top Two and a Half Books of '09

It's that magical time of year again, when a young man's thoughts turn to book lists. I love book lists. I love making them, I love reading them. Have you made a book list? Leave me a comment, I'll read your list. And judge you by it. Just kidding, I won't do that (yes I will). And if you recommend a book highly enough, I might just read it, and send you a thank you note.

So I started thinking about my ten favorite books I read this year. But I couldn't come up with ten. Did I seriously not even read ten good books this year? What's wrong with me? I don't know. It was a weird year for reading I guess. So I decided if I couldn't come up with ten, then I would be extra selective and only list the great books I read this year. Not just any good book would make my list. No, no. Only the great books. Which is why my list is so short.

But here they are....

1. The Book of Exodus, by Brevard Childs. This was an exceptional commentary, and I'm not easy to please in the commentary department. But Childs excelled across the board. His text critical notes were judicious and balanced, and his insight into the text was engaging. His notes on the NT use of Exodus were excellent. I was reading through this commentary with two friends, but I was always tempted to read ahead because I had trouble putting it down.

2. The Gospel of Mark, NICGT, by R.T. France. Hmm, I hope it's not too boring to recommend commentaries, but again, this was a great commentary. It is commenting on the Greek text, but you can enjoy probably 90% or more without knowing Greek. He doesn't comment on other's views, he comments on the Biblical text. And he managed to answer just about every question I brought to him.

3. The first half of Prodigal God, by Tim Keller. Perhaps the second half of this book will make it onto my 2010 book list. But so far I've only read the first four chapters. However, these chapters have been great. His insight into the nature of legalism was really eye opening for me.

Honorable Mention. These books were good. But not great.

1. Why We Love the Church, by DeYoung and Kluck. Good, really good.
2. Apologetics to the Glory of God, by Frame. Good, but philosophy is not my game.
3. The Man Who Ate Everything, by Steingarten. This book was great, but it's about food, not theology.
4. Ephesians, by Stott. This one might be great too, but I'm only one chapter in.
5. Pastor, by Willimon. Really good. I might look back on this one in a year and think it's great.
6. Exodus, by Houtmann. Best three volume commentary on Exodus translated out of Dutch that I've ever read.
7. Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Mark, by Witherington. I wish I would've started using this earlier in my Mark series. It was very insightful.

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