This brings me right up to date. At the moment I’m working my way through some fairly long-term books (NICNT commentary on Acts by F F Bruce, Pillar commentary on Mark by Edwards, Jesus & the Victory of God by N T Wright).
Here’s what I finished during August:
Judges – Focus on the Bible (Dale Ralph Davis) 4/5
Just as good as his Joshua commentary, here is more of the same. He really brings the stories to life, filling in historical details where necessary. He doesn’t shy away from addressing the distaste we may feel for some of the Judges actions, and as usual bridges the gap to the 21st century with some relevant application.
Making Sense of the New Testament (Craig Blomberg) 3/5
This book sets out to answer “3 crucial questions”, each of which Craig Blomberg is well placed to answer. First, “Is the New Testament historically reliable”. Here he answers excellently, but perhaps too briefly. He has written a book on the Gospels, and one on John separately addressing the issue in much more depth. Second, “Was Paul the true founder of Christianity?” answers an accusation that has been very fashionable to throw at Christianity in recent years. His answer here is again consise, but should be enough to convince all but the most ardent skeptics. Finally, “How is the Christian to Apply the New Testament to Life?” is indeed a crucial question, but would be better served by a whole book on hermeneutics (e.g. How to read the Bible for all its worth by Fee & Stuart). Having said that, in the space available he crams a lot in, so if you are looking for answers to these questions and don’t want to read too much, this is the book to get.
If you want to walk on the water, you’ve got to get out of the boat (John Ortberg)
OK, I’ll admit I was prejudiced against this one from the start. Another lightweight Christian “best-seller” to tell you the 7 steps to a prosperous life. But I was wrong. Ortberg isn’t just an excellent communicator, he’s actually got something worth communicating. The book tackles the issue of whether we will “step out” and do something that seems risky but we know its right, or stay where we are, content with a safe second-best option. Following the story of Peter walking to Jesus on the water, he takes us through each step in the process. There are plenty of hilarious and fascinating illustrations that makes it a joy to read, and each chapter concludes with some well chosen questions to help you apply the teaching to your own situation. This is a good book to read if your life tends to be nice but a bit dull, and you’re wondering what the next step should be.
The Incomparable Christ – John Stott 4/5
This is vintage Stott, talking about his favourite subject – Jesus Christ. It is essentially a transcription of a series of lectures he gave. “The Original Jesus” goes through every book of the New Testament and shows how it brings out a particular aspect of his character. “The Ecclesiastical Jesus” explores 12 ways (good and bad) that the church has presented Jesus throughout history. “The Influential Jesus” describes the radical influence Jesus had on 12 people who themselves made great impacts on history. Finally, “The Eternal Jesus” looks at how the book of Revelation presents Jesus. The first three sections in particular are excellent, with the fourth a little bit harder to work through because of the difficult nature of the book of Revelation. However, if you want to “see Jesus” and to “see his glory”, then this book will help you to do just that. We need to see Jesus for who he really is, to appreciate all aspects of his character, and to rid our minds of any misconceptions of him.