These are a few thoughts on the books I read last year. I may have missed one or two but this list is pretty complete. Many of the works were read as I researched Volume Two of The Words of the Covenant. Not to knock them but rarely now am I helped by books that I already agree with. I did not include two books that I am more than halfway through: Paul: A New Covenant Jew by Pitre, Barber & Kincaid, and Peter Stuhlmacher’s Biblical Theology of the New Testament. If I do this again at the cusp of 2024 I shall give my opinion on both of them. Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!
The Messianic Theology of the New Testament – Joshua Jipp
An engaging Reformed treatment of an important theme. Clearly, I don’t agree that Jesus is on David’s throne now, but it is very important because of what it highlights.
1 Peter – Craig Keener
Keener is a very clear writer. He always provides loads of background info. Sometimes he overdoes it, but this is a very good all-round commentary.
Revelation – Buist Fanning
Fanning is an excellent commentator who packs a lot of information into a page. I wasn’t convinced by everything in this book (like his treatment of the sixth seal in Rev. 6), but found this a great way to think through Revelation. Definitely deserves to be near the top of anyone’s lists on the last book of the Bible.
Colossians and Philemon: A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching – Adam Copenhaver and Jeffrey D. Arthurs,
Copenhaver’s exposition is excellent. Arthurs’s homiletical notes, meh.
James: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching – Herbert W. Bateman & William C. Varner
The best commentary I have read this year. Great layout. Scores on all points a work like it explores. Requires a knowledge of Greek.
1 & 2 Kings: A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching – David B. Schreiner & Lee Compson
Somewhat critical from Schreiner, but still very useful all the same. For what you get preachers could do worse (though Iain Provan is better). Compson’s homiletics notes are okay I guess.
Jesus Remembered – James D. G. Dunn
Finished this off this year. I love Dunn’s writing style and the way he triggers new questions. I don’t like everything I read, but am helped by it. Great material on the Kingdom.
Beginning From Jerusalem – James D. G. Dunn
Volume 2 of Dunn’s massive Trilogy and fully up to the standard of the first. Really appreciated the way Dunn intertwines expansion and the NT writings.
The Theology of the Apostle Paul – James D. G. Dunn
Rightly regarded as an exceptional work. Brilliant thinking through Paul. A stimulating work! Dunn is so good at linking up the epistles to the central pillar of Romans.
Paul and the Faithfulness of God – N. T. Wright
I haven’t completed these two volumes but have read much of them. Wright doesn’t capture my imagination like Dunn does, and I haven’t gotten as much from this book as I’d hoped. This is mainly because I disagree with his dominating thesis of Israel’s exile being ended in Christ.
Paul in Fresh Perspective – N. T. Wright
Wright at his best. Some terrific essays here, even though I disagree more than I agree.
A Theology of Paul and His Letters – Douglas Moo
Good, clear, very useful, but yet not as groundbreaking as I had hoped. Relies on Dunn (above) quite a lot. I think reading Dunn first blunted my experience of this work.
Paul and the Salvation of Mankind – Johannes Munck
Since lots of scholars cite this work I thought I better read it. Liberal dogmatism at its worse, but one or two redeeming features.
The King of God’s Kingdom – David Seccombe
Backed by scholarship but written for everyone. This book explores and explains the identity of Jesus and the significance of His work in an almost devotional way. Some of his notes date him a tad, but I enjoyed this book. It deserves to be better known – and to be cheaper!
Covenant Theology: Biblical, Historical & Theological Perspectives – Waters, Reid & Muether (eds)
An excellent compendium of articles on CT from a paedo-baptist perspective. Some of the material is from other books (e.g., Belcher on the cov. of works), but this is a really good book. Stops short of being definitive but is a must for anyone wanting to understand CT.
Paul’s Theology in Context – James P. Ware
An excellent piece of work written with deference to better known scholars but which makes a solid contribution. Focusses on the themes of Creation, Incarnation, Covenant, and Kingdom. Right up my alley.
When People Are Big and God is Small – Ed Welch
A good book dealing with self-centeredness and co-dependency. I used it for a Bible Study. Added quite a bit of my own stuff but always found good jumping off points in the book.
40 Questions About Arminianism – J. Matthew Pinson
An outstanding discussion of Classical Arminianism from a very competent writer who knows theology and philosophy. All Calvinists need to read this, especially if they think Arminius and Wesley were “semi-pelagians.” I am not Arminian but was much helped by this book. It needed to be written.
40 Questions About Prayer – Joseph C. Harrod
One of the very best books on Prayer I have ever read (and I’ve read of lot of them). Balanced, sober, and uplifting. A job well done.
Yeshua: The Life of the Messiah from a Messianic Jewish Perspective (Vol. 1) – Arnold Fruchtenbaum
Finally, I was sent this book by a kind friend who wanted an opinion on it. It is the first of a massive four volume work. My intention was to review it but I felt that the review would be too negative, so I didn’t write it. Dr. Fruchtenbaum is a messianic Jewish teacher whose ministry is focused on the Jews, and this has to be kept in mind. With that said I have to report that this large book is thin on biblical exposition of its subject. It relies heavily (and questionably) upon parallels and echoes from Mishnaic/Talmudic Jewish sources, most of which stem from a time long after the times of Jesus (which is acknowledged by the author). As such the light cast from the non-inspired sources on the inspired ones is suspect. The trouble with this method is that for every assertion made on the basis of a targum another view is possible depending on the choice of source and the weight given to it (e.g., the Dead Sea Scrolls). Any familiarity with e.g., N. T. Wright or Peter Stuhlmacher will reveal this.
Paul Martin Henebury is a native of Manchester, England and a graduate of London Theological Seminary and Tyndale Theological Seminary (MDiv, PhD). He has been a Church-planter, pastor and a professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics. He was also editor of the Conservative Theological Journal (suggesting its new name, Journal of Dispensational Theology, prior to leaving that post). He is now the President of Telos School of Theology.