Top 10 Biblical Studies Books Your SBL, ETS Book Bag Will Crave
Yes, the marathons of presentations, plenary sessions, lectures, meetings, and receptions known as AAR/SBL and ETS are upon us. But don’t fret. We’re here to help make your time as enjoyably and productive as possible by charting a course for your book-buying adventure. After all, that is the main attraction, isn’t it?
Below are the top biblical studies resources your book bag will crave this season, and for which your carry-on will probably resent you. They represent the latest, cutting edge research and scholarship in Greek and Hebrew, books of the Bible, and biblical theology—including the celebrated landmark NIV Zondervan Study Bible.
Do yourself—and your trusty book bag friend—a favor: print this list, take it with you, and stock up to your heart’s content!
When I was a pastor, my first go-to commentary was the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Its careful, exhaustive approach to the text gave my exegetical exploits sure footing. Now we have the Old Testament equivalent, and Daniel Block’s commentary on Ruth is headlining the launch.
ZECOT provides pastors and teachers with a careful analysis and interpretation of the Hebrew text through several distinctive features: it displays a structural “thought flow”; identifies and discusses the main idea; reveals its literary context; draws out the meaning of the Hebrew for interpretation; and outlines the theological and canonical significance.
Block is right: “[Ruth] offers hearers in every age a window into life in the ancient Near East, inspiration for good and godly living, and reason to wonder at the common roots of Israel’s royal and messianic hope.” (29) And his commentary will help you communicate this inspiration and hope in your own ministry.
Here’s a resource I wish I had when I stepped into Dr. Gary Meadors’s Greek I class 7 years ago: the most widely used edition of the Greek New Testament and the most widely read contemporary English Bible translation in one volume.
This revised side-by-side Greek-English resource features the UBS 5 critical text (with the full apparatus) and the New International Version. The UBS 5 text is the leading edition of the original text of the New Testament and contains the same Greek text as NA28, differing only in some details of punctuation and paragraphing. This new edition incorporates readings of the newly discovered Papyri 117 - 127 and places a special focus on the Catholic Epistles, with several modifications in the reading text.
This revised edition of the classic Greek reference stands to become the standard edition. Add it to your library to aid your Greek translation and NT exegetical projects.
It sort of goes without saying, but the Western Church has been blessed beyond measure with insightful biblical scholars and Bible commentaries. While such insights can be helpful elsewhere, non-Western churches need resources to explain the Bible, relate its meaning to specific contexts, and apply Scripture to their life and ministry. Now we have such a resource for South Asia.
The new South Asia Bible Commentary is a resource by South Asian scholars for South Asian readers. Originally the brainchild of fourteen Langham scholars from India and Christopher Wright, SABC is focused on “building a bridge between biblical teaching and life in modern South Asia.”
SABC is faithful to the Scriptures; clear and simple, explaining the Bible text in understandable language; and relevant to the religious and social cultures of South Asia, both in its application and in articles addressing Asian issues from a biblical perspective.
Luther was right: “Insofar as we love the gospel, to that same extent let us study the ancient tongues.”
So also contends Constantine Campbell in his new book Advances in the Study of Greek. Yet keeping abreast of cutting-edge shifts that impact how we think about and teach the Greek text can be daunting. Campbell’s book ameliorates such a task.
Blending academic acumen with practical resourcement, Campbell offers an introduction to modern advances in the study of biblical Greek with intelligible accessibility. He also sheds significant light on linguistics and its bearing on modern Greek studies, a vital vein of study for any exegete.
“Whether one knows it or not, everyone interested in the Greek New Testament needs to become familiar with the discussions that are included here. These issues are important.” (23) Campbell’s Greek resource will rekindle your love for the study of the ancient tongues, for the sake of the gospel.
Let’s talk about sex. The deviant, Old Testament kind.
As in prostitution, polygamy, rape, adultery, and incest.
If you’re blushing, you’re not alone. By the looks of it most of the Bride is too, given how little we talk about sexual sins and sex in general. David Lamb wants to change this with his new book Prostitutes and Polygamists.
“The Bible gives us no excuse for being reluctant to talk about sexual sins, since it has no problem sharing the worst sins ever committed by some of the holiest people who ever lived…” (14) including sexually deviant people.
Sex is broken; it’s not the way it’s supposed to be at many levels. Which is why the Bible talks about it so much, and why we should too. Lamb helps us engage, discuss, and learn from these scandalous sex stories to discover God’s ideal for our lives, and his scandalous grace.
Lee Fields insists, “Bible study isn’t complete until it results in worship.” This motto serves as a foundation for a new linguistic-devotional resource co-edited with Milton Eng, Devotions on the Hebrew Bible.
He and Eng contend the Biblical languages provide a footbridge between complete study and deep worship, which is the two-fold aim of this book: to encourage people to continue using their Hebrew knowledge in their work; to demonstrate that a knowledge of the original languages can be a spiritually rewarding, devotional exercise.
Each of the 54 devotions “are designed to bring out some grammatical or lexical insight which cannot be gained in English translation alone along with some point of spiritual application.” (13)
A diverse line-up of contributors will deepen your appreciation and understanding of biblical Hebrew, resulting in deeper adoration to God.
Five years ago I attended ETS’s 2010 annual meeting on “The New Perspective on Paul.” As an MDiv student I got a bit lost in the technical jargon surrounding Paul and Second Temple Judaism. I wished I had a nontechnical resource to assist in connecting Paul to his Jewish contemporaries. The new Reading Romans in Context fulfills that wish.
This illuminating, approachable guide is useful for anyone wishing to explore Pauline theology’s relationship to Second Temple Judaism. Essays pair a Romans passage with its thematically related Jewish text; provide theological comparisons; and show how the comparator text deepens one’s reading of Romans.
“Students of Paul must not ignore Second Temple Jewish literature,” editors Ben Blackwell, John Goodrich, and Jason Maston contend, “but must engage it…” (21)
This resource will help you engage this literature and bring contextual observations to bear on executing one of Paul’s clearest, fullest exposition of the gospel.
In a world of economic disparity, industrial and vocational disruption, financial collapse, and nation-state economic anxiety, where can Christians turn for insights on money and finances?
Keith Krell and the late Verlyn Verbrugge have given the Church a sturdy guide in their new book Paul and Money. More than a book on fiduciary legal tender, it’s a biblical and theological analysis of the apostle’s teachings and practices on how the world of finances intersects with our lives.
“Our goal is not to simply exegete certain statements in Paul’s writings about how Christians should use their money. There are many more issues that surface as one examines how financial matters intersect in Paul’s letters.” (26)
Their work is ambitious scholarship, engaging the exegetical and theological conclusions concerning Paul and money. It’s also practical, providing biblical insights on money and finances to help your people, your church, and your community make godly financial decisions.
Cutting-edge Bible software has opened up Scripture like never before. Yet academic institutions have responded in one of two ways: either relying on traditional language learning strategies, or equating learning Bible software with learning the languages.
Michael Williams hopes Biblical Hebrew Companion for Bible Software Users will serve as a middle ground between the two extremes. “This resource enables anyone using biblical Hebrew language software to delve more deeply into the riches of the biblical text.” (8)
While not a grammar book, this resource explains and demonstrates major terms. For each grammatical term these programs present, this book provides three critical pieces of information: how the grammatical feature looks, what the grammatical feature does, and an exegetical example of the grammatical feature.
Williams’s book is the “so what” resource for lay learners, pastors, and seminary students to help them productively use Bible software to study of the Bible.
Last month, Zondervan was pleased to release a ground-breaking new study Bible built on the most widely-read English Bible translation, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible.
Of note, it employs a unique theological discipline for personal Bible reading. Where other study Bibles have chosen to build upon systematic theology, this freshly-conceived study Bible is rooted in biblical theology.
General Editor D. A. Carson explains, “It’s not looking at the Bible’s themes from a distance giving a summarizing view, but it tracks the themes throughout the Bible as they go.” Those themes include: Kingdom, Jerusalem, the messiah, justice, holiness, and covenant.
In addition to the in-depth study notes, twenty-eight essays at the end pick up key themes of biblical theology and follow them through the whole Bible as well. In the end, Carson hopes this study Bible will help believers around the world “understand the Bible better and therefore understand God better.”
While your carry-on loathes me saying it, there are plenty of other titles sure to satisfy your book bag's appetite for solid scholarship and inspiring reads. Stop by the Zondervan Academic booth to say hello and to stock up on the latest must-have scholarship in biblical studies.
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