The Christmas season is upon us, and some of you may still be finishing up your shopping for gifts. Others of us are hoping that there will be some “book money” in the stocking. By the way, gift certificates are usually the safest way to go when a book lover is on your list and you have no idea which book to select. (They’re also very easy to wrap!) Our favorite bookstores offer gift certificates that can be purchased online. They are as follows:
- Christian Book Distributors—Gift certificates for any dollar amount can be purchased online and sent by e-mail or standard mail. These gift certificates are redeemable toward any product sold by Christianbook.com.
- Amazon—Gift cards can be purchased online and sent by e-mail, by standard mail, or by printing and giving in person. Cards are redeemable for millions of items, ship for free, never expire, and are available in any amount from $5 to $5,000.
- Westminster Bookstore—Gift certificates are available in any amount. Certificates purchased online are e-mailed to the recipient. These gift certificates can be redeemed online or in our retail store. Note: Gift certificates are nonrefundable and may not be exchanged for cash or credit.
If you are shopping for yourself or are brave enough to select a good book for someone else (wife, sibling, mother, father, pastor, teacher, elder, deacon, babysitter, or friend), Tim Ashcraft and I have put our heads together to suggest some very fine books to assist you in this endeavor.
Noteworthy from 2008
First, we will admit that we have not read and are unfamiliar with all of the good books from 2008. However, we have attempted to read and peruse as many as time allowed. Here are a handful that stood out to us.
We Become What We Worship by G. K. Beale (IVP, 2008)—This is a brand-new biblical theology of idolatry. Beale states that his hope is “that the biblical-theological perspective of this book will provide greater fuel to fire the church’s motivation not to become conformed to the idols that surround it in order better to fulfill its mission to the world, which is to proclaim that people need to be conformed to Christ’s image for the greater glory of God” (p. 12). [IVP | WTS | Amazon | CBD | Monergism | CVBBS]
Love Divine and Unfailing: The Gospel According to Hosea by Michael Barrett (P&R, 2008)—One of my (JB) favorite classes during my undergraduate years was a study through the minor prophets with Dr. Michael Barrett. I filled the margins of my Bible with notes and cross-references from his lectures, and then somewhere along the way misplaced this Bible. I have deeply regretted loosing it ever since. Now I can revisit those probing lectures once again thanks to the publication of this new study. I’ve not yet obtained a copy, but am confident in recommending any book by Dr. Barrett. [P&R | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace by Iain H. Murray (Banner of Truth, 2008)—This is not a repetition of his two-volume biography, but a focus on key themes in Lloyd-Jones’ ministry and an interaction with contemporary criticisms. [BOT | WTS | Amazon | Monergism | CBD]
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship edited by Tremper Longman and Peter Enns. (IVP Academic, 2008)—This series of dictionaries has set a new standard in the industry, and this latest volume will abundantly reward the careful reader. I (JB) have got my copy close at hand and have benefited much from it as I have used it in conjunction with my study of this favorite portion of Scripture. Read the SI review here. [IVP | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, 2nd edition by Eugene H. Merrill (Baker Academic, 2008)—This has been a standard among conservative and evangelicals, and now it has been updated. This book comes highly recommended to pastors and teachers. [Baker Academic | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. (Zondervan, 2008)—This revision and expansion of Kaiser’s Toward an Old Testament Theology is a welcome addition to my library. I (JB) devoured Kaiser’s TOTT some years ago, and have enjoyed following the theme of promise throughout the New Testament. [Zondervan | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary series (Eerdmans, 2008)—The New Testament counterpart to this series issued two volumes in 2005 (Colossians & Philemon and Philippians) and two more in 2007 (1 Peter and 2 Peter & Jude). This year, Eerdmans released two volumes in this Old Testament series: Genesis and Psalms. This new series “is written primarily for students, pastors, and other Christian leaders seeking to engage in theological interpretation of Scripture” (from the series introduction). Each commentary consists of two major sections: 1) theological exegesis and 2) theological reflection. These are not like your typical commentary which gives “careful attention to philology, grammar, syntax, and concerns of a historical nature.” Rather, the result of these commentaries “is a paragraph-by-paragraph engagement with the text that is deliberately theological in focus” (ibid). These commentaries are recommended as supplemental to other technical commentaries. [Genesis by James McKeown: Eerdmans | Amazon | CBD] [Psalms by Geoffrey W. Grogan: Eerdmans | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
The ESV Study Bible (Crossway, 2008)—This study Bible is practically a theological library in one volume. See the SI review here. [Crossway | WTS | Amazon | CBD | Monergism | CVBBS | Scripture Truth]
Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, NASB, Wider Margins (Rev. ed., AMG Publishers, 2008) edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Warren Baker and Joel Kletzing—A great study Bible now with more room for note taking. [AMG Publishers | Amazon | CBD]
The Kids Bible: King James Version (Hendrickson, 2008)—This is a very nicely formatted Bible geared to children between the ages of eight and twelve, including easy-to-read 10-point type, 24 pages of color illustrations, words of Christ in red, and special features in the back. The text is the KJV with the Scofield updates. Hendrickson also has a KJV Kids Study Bible due out in July of 2009. For those of you who prefer this translation, these are two very nice options for your children. [Hendrickson | Amazon | CBD]
Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey by Jerry Bridges (NavPress, 2008)—This is a devotional based on his previous books. [NavPress | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson (Crossway, 2008)—This would make a great gift for your pastor. It will be a great encouragement to all who read it. Read Jason’s review here. [Crossway | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden (Eerdmans, 2008)—This is a shorter version of Marsden’s much larger and highly praised biography of Edwards. Pastors ought to be familiar with the life and ministry of great men like Jonathan Edwards. [Eerdmans | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
POPULAR FOR MEN
Fathers and Sons: Stand Fast in the Way of Truth, Volume 1 by Douglas Bond (P&R, 2007) & Fathers and Sons: Hold Fast in a Broken World, Volume 2 by Douglas Bond (P&R, 2008)—There is over a year’s worth of readings in these two volumes. “Strengthens the faith and love of fathers and sons. Promotes Christian leadership and maturity in young men” (from the publisher’s description). These two volumes come highly recommended by one of the pastor’s at Tim’s church. [P&R | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
POPULAR FOR WOMEN
Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup (Crossway, 2008)—This is a fantastic little book written for women. I (JB) have given away two copies to family members and am ordering more. Wendy has provided a great entry point for those who may be intimidated by theology. Our review of this title is forthcoming. [Crossway | Amazon | CBD]
Finally, we would like to suggest a few classics that ought to be in every preacher’s library and in most Christian homes.
The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges (Banner of Truth, 1958)—This book, written primarily for ministers and students, is thought-provoking and convicting. [BOT | WTS | Amazon | CBD | SGCB]
God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards by John Piper (Crossway, 1998)—This book is included as a classic because it contains the complete text of Edwards’s The End for Which God Created the World. Piper’s book is in two parts: Part One (almost the first half of the book) is Piper’s extended introduction to Edwards and his book. Part Two is the full text of Edwards’s book with explanatory footnotes. It pays rich dividends to all believers willing to put forth a little effort and is especially helpful to ministers and other Christian leaders. [Crossway | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
Any good edition of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan—There are also editions geared toward adults and children in updated, contemporary English.
- Oxford University Press paperback edition (2003): [WTS | Amazon | CBD]
- Hendrickson Christian Classics hardcover edition (2004): [Amazon | CBD]
- Listener’s Collection of Classic Christian Literature Audio CD narrated by Max McLean (2007) [WTS | Amazon | CBD]
The Holy War by John Bunyan—This is excellent book, and there are modern editions available for all ages. It is not quite as easy to find original language versions.
- Whitaker House Publishers paperback edition (2001): [Amazon | CBD]
- Evangelical Press modern English version (1976): This is an updated language edition, divided into chapters with appropriate chapter headings. Very easy to read. [Amazon]
- It seems to be getting more difficult to find an edition of The Holy War in the author’s original words. You will definitely get it if you invest in the three-volume Works of John Bunyan (Banner of Truth, 1992). Volume 3 contains his allegorical works, along with copious notes from his editor and quotes from other Puritan writers. It is a worthy investment for the diehard Bunyan fan.[BOT | Amazon | CBD]
The Everlasting Righteousness by Horatius Bonar (Banner of Truth, 1996)—This is a warm, scriptural study of the atonement. It can be enjoyed by most any Christian and is not hard reading. [BOT | WTS | Amazon | CBD]
There are many more titles that could (maybe should) be suggested to you, but we hope that this will serve as a profitable starting point.
|Jason Button received a B.A. in Bible from Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC). He serves as the Book Review Editor for SharperIron and is the creator of TheoSource, a project to compile comprehensive lists of recommended books for Bible study. He is married to Tiffany, and they have two children, Caris Joelle and Asa Livingstone.|
|Tim Ashcraft is a layman serving in various ministries at Mount Calvary Baptist Church (Greenville, SC), where he and his family are members. As well as teaching in the Adult Sunday School classes, he is editor of the Men’s Ministry’s Man of the Word manual. Tim is a graduate of Tabernacle Baptist Bible College (Greenville, SC) and works at Kohler Company (Spartanburg, SC). He is married to Doris and has two daughters, Becky and Diane.|