Dave’s Top 20 Books on the New Testament

If you want to read the whole list, find it here.

I just wanted to comment on his list because part of blogging is forcing yourself to write and part putting your thoughts upon the internet so that other people can ignore them.

Ephesians by Markus Barth. Barth was an outstanding lecturer in Basel. He was even a greater writer. Just read what he has to say about marriage in Ephesians 5 and see if you don’t agree.

The Subversive Kingdom by Jacque Ellul. We manifest true kingdom living when we experience the perfect love of God toward us and then manifest that love toward others. If you share this vision of the kingdom, will you join me in praying for the church in North America that God will awaken us to the political delusion that has descended upon us?

Christian Anarchy by Vernard Eller. I’ve summarize this outstanding work in my book Christian Archy.

These three don’t surprise me at all.


Greek Words with Hebrew Meanings by David Hill. A follow-up to Barr’s tome on semantics. It completely changed the way I viewed New Testament lexicography.

I hadn’t even heard of this. It looks good but these days it’s a bit pricey.

The Synoptic Problem by William Farmer. Bill and I shared similar views about the historical origins of the Gospels. His was the first book to get me to rethink Markan Priority.

I read this after reading Black’s book Why Four Gospels.  It’s pretty good. I’m not sure if its convincing. Part of me wants to just say, “The external evidence all favors Matthew’s gospel being first. Let’s just go with that.” Another part of me says, “It’s really hard to know for sure and so many assumptions utilized in examining the synoptic problem are themselves open to debate or accepted for no reason whatever. Why bother?”

Church Dogmatics by Karl Barth. I read all of these volumes, in German, when I was studying in Switzerland. Barth’s theology may be off in places, but his exegesis of specific New Testament texts is often impeccable.

Dr. Black told me this in person when we talked about learning German. I’ve been reading it in English lately. I’ve got a ways to go.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. This book plays “the Devil’s advocate” as none other. We all have “distractions” that would keep us from following Jesus wholeheartedly. The problem is that we are usually unaware of them. This book will help us.

At first, this book shocked me. But then I realized that any book about the Christian life is thus about the New Testament. So, yeah, this makes sense.
Here’s my list of 5 books on the New Testament that have most influenced me:

  1. The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright. This book is very important for any newcomer to studying the New Testament precisely because it gives a big picture view that includes a forward view to applying the text of the New Testament to the lives of believers. 
  2. Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity by David Wenham. This book really goes far in showing the connections between Paul’s letters and the traditions of the gospels. I have found it to be immensely helpful.
  3. Redating the New Testament by John A.T. Robinson. I don’t know that I can agree all of his conclusions, but in general Robinson is a model of sleuthing the assumptions that held the day in New Testament scholarship in his day. He even references Sherlock Holmes in the first few pages.
  4. On Christian Doctrine by Saint Augustine. The beauty of this is found early on when he notes that the main point of interpreting Scripture is so that the truth about God leads people on to love God and their neighbor. Then he goes into the technicalities of Biblical interpretation.
  5. Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity by David DeSilva. He shows what ancient culture was like and how the Bible fits into it. What more could you want?

Runner up: The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight. The content of the four gospels is essentially what the apostles would have identified as the gospel message. The gospel isn’t just the atonement, it isn’t a trip from guilt to forgiveness, it isn’t a call to transform culture, etc. Good stuff.

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