Wondering what to read before seminary?

On the Twitter, Jennifer Guo pondered which books she should read before seminary. My normal response would be to remember that scene from Good Will Hunting about library fees and Harvard education. But on the other hand, seminary can be super useful and if you’ve counted the cost, so to speak, then I shouldn’t attempt discouraging anybody. Guo seems, if her blog is any indication, to be well read and informed. So she doesn’t need my recommendations. I won’t recommend language books because I’ll assume that people go to seminary precisely to learn the languages. But, if I had to recommend important books to read prior to attending:

  1. Pick a solid book on logic and critical thinking. Perhaps Peter Kreeft’s Socratic Logic. Also, for paper writing read Weston’s Rulebook for Arguments.
  2. Read the whole Bible and the Apocrypha, Seminary is not the right place to be surprised by the content of the Holy Writ.
  3. Read Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.
  4. Read Overnight Student by Mike Jones. It is no longer available online, but I summarize his method here.
  5. Read any brief book on public speaking, perhaps Dale Carnegie’s brief book The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Public Speaking. Obviously there is more to it than he says, but he makes it simple. And if you use the study technique in The Over Night Student then you’ll get to practice often.
  6. After this, read Precious Remedies for Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks and put it into practice. Seminary can leave you associating your devotional life with the burden of studying, learn to resist this. Seriously, schedule devotional time and never miss it unless there is a serious emergency. Morning is best.
  7. Learn to use a planner and don’t start seminary until it become a nearly religious practice.
  8. Read a book about financial management and put it into practice.

There is a giant stack of books that transformed how I read and preach the Bible, these are books and practices that will help you in seminary and beyond.

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