Here’s a reply to a meme Bryan tagged me in. The topic is five books or scholars that influenced how I read the Bible. Not knowing what order to go in, this may be a bit random. There are many more that I could certainly add to this list and justifiably so. However, this is an easier question that it appears because it does not ask for the TOP five books or scholars, which would be insanely hard for me at some points, but simply five books or scholars. So lets dig in.
- Leland Ryken in his books Words of Delight (certainly the magnum opus piece), How to Read the Bible as Literature, and The Literary Study Bible(which by necessity coveres a few areas not covered previously). Coming from a literature background, it always seemed to me that at least some element of recognizing literary elements, style, and certainly genre should be involved in reading and interpreting the Bible. At the time I first read Ryken on Bible literature, his affirmation of this truth without denying the authority of Scripture was a breath of fresh air. My ability and training in this area to do this drastically affected my approach to literature and eventually not only made my Bible-reading more enjoyable, but eventually led to my changed theology in certain areas (eschatology for one).
- John Piper. Simply put, Piper introduced me to Reformed Theology and to the supreme goal of God’s glory. Therefore, though I don’t agree with him on everything, books like Desiring God and his other writings have permanently affected how I read the Bible, and I am thankful for this pastor and scholar.
- . Zondervan NIV Study Bible Yes, the classic one. This was my very, very first study bible. Kenneth Barker is the head of a great team, and this is still one of the most thorough study bibles on the market, and I still recommend it highly, especially in its latest edition, amped-up even more, no doubt to compete with the ESV Study Bible and NLT Study Bible that came out around the same time as the reissue.
- The The ESV Study Bible and the NLT Study Bible… do I really have to separate these? They came out within months of each other and are both excellent in their own specific ways. The information within the ESVSB is extensive, the layout is attractive, the theology is solid (if I sometimes think they should substantiate their arguments more than they do), and the maps and illustrations are second to none. The NLTSB isn’t quite as visually accessable, but its notes address all the key issues in an incredibly accessable way – more than any study bible I’ve seen (just like the NLT translation itself). Both have been key to my personal study in the last year.
- Steve R. Halla, former Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Center for Christianity and the Arts at Southern Seminary. This first-rate scholar, whose first book we are eagerly anticipating (but, as an insider, I can assure you will probably come within the next year or two), brought to light elements in the Bible I never paid attention to before and which have also changed the way I read the scriptures. From a well-rounded aethetic of beauty and the glory of God, to our commission as the imago dei to be creators ourselves, to the Biblical support for a vast variety and use of arts in worship and corporate worship as a multi-sensory experience (see the tablernacle!), and the history of art and aesthetic studies from the early church to the present, he finally led to reconciliation of my talents and my theology.
Notable Mentions: The Orthodox Study Bible, Craig D. Allert’s A High View of Scripture?, The NET Bible, The Archaeological Study Bible, and Martin Luther.