Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reading the Bible... Theologically

I love to create bibliographies, but have never assembled one specifically on methods for reading Scripture. So here is one list, admittedly peculiar to my own reading habits and interests, but I think a solid list. I happen to think that sometimes it is better to read theology as a way of reading Scripture rather than reading Scripture directly. I know that is a radical and contestable claim, but I can testify, at least for myself, that I have come to some of my best knowledge of Scripture while reading theology.

I have excluded commentaries from this list, even though I have benefited from various commentaries. I have also excluded books authored by folks from my own tradition, assuming that many readers of this blog will already be familiar with some of the people I might otherwise mention, like Mark Allan Powell, David Lose, Terence Fretheim, and others).

Finally, I should mention that I list favorite books by these authors, but all of these authors are of such value that other books published by them (especially Richard Hays, Ellen Davis, N.T. Wright) all come highly recommended.

1. How to Read the Bible: James Kugel

Hands down the most important book I've ever read on Scripture. Compares the ancient and historical-critical methods while walking all the way through the Scriptures case by case.

2. Canon and Creed: Robert Jenson

On the mutually forming relationship between the biblical canon and the creeds of the church.

3. Reading Scripture with the Church: Toward a Hermeneutic for Theological Interpretation: AKM Adam, Kevin VanHoozer, et al.

Four biblical theologians in conversation toward a hermeneutic for theological interpretation. Beneficial also as a model for dialogue between theologians.

4. Eat This Book: Eugene Peterson

A theologically informed exploration of the devotional mode of reading Scripture.

5. Reading the Bible with the Damned: Bob Ekblad

Insights into reading Scripture when done with immigrants and those in prison.

6. Scripture and Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today: N.T. Wright

Perhaps our foremost biblical interpreter of this generation discussing his approach.

7. The Art of Reading Scripture: Ellen Davis and Richard Hays

Boy do I love these essays. And it provides a great bibliography for further reading.

8. De Doctrina: Augustine

One of the earliest books on biblical interpretation.

9. Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of Scripture: Ellen Davis

Wendell Berry in conversation with Scripture, from an OT theologian. Outstanding.

10. Hermeneutics: An Introduction: Anthony Thisleton

Thisleton is our greatest "scientist" of hermeneutics, and it is worth taking time with at least one book by him.

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