These are the ten best books I read in 2009:
1. The Meaning of the Pentateuch / John H. Sailhamer
I’ve been awaiting this volume from Dr. Sailhamer for several years. It was well worth the wait. A primer on hermeneutics, a historical theology, a compositional analysis, and an exegetical theology of the Pentateuch all rolled into one book. It’s not for the faint of heart. But intrepid readers will discover much fine gold and will never read the five-fold book that begins their Bible the same way again.
2. Pauline Christology / Gordon D. Fee
Fee’s second volume in his Pauline trilogy. Few scholars make exegesis exciting and worshipful. Fee is one of them.
3. A Praying Life / Paul Miller
One of the most helpful and inspiring books on prayer I’ve ever read. I’ll reread this one in 2010 and hopefully put much of Miller’s wisdom into practice.
4. Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper / Keith Mathison
An exquisite exposition of the Lord’s Supper, particularly the view held by the great Reformer. If you read only one book on the Eucharist, let it be this one.
5. A Quest For More / Paul David Tripp
This little book is what the Purpose Driven Life ought to have been. Tripp’s writing is provocative and pastoral. It would be a worthy book to read in January to help set the trajectory of your year.
6. Life and Practice in the Early Church / Ed. Steven A. McKinion
An illuminating collection of source material from the early Church Fathers. These selections paint a picture of how followers of Jesus lived out the faith together in the first three centuries of Christianity.
7. Life Together / Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A compelling call to radical Christ-like community. If you find the individualism of our age stifling, then read Bonhoeffer: “It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament. Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone. They know that visible fellowship is a blessing.” (p. 18)
8. Peace Like a River / Leif Enger
The best novel I read this year. I kept quoting lines from this book to my wife. Just beautifully written. But more haunting than heartwarming. Every Christian father should read this book.
9. Gilead: A Novel / Marilynne Robinson
The second best novel I read this year (by the narrowest of margins). It deserves all the attention you can give it. The author’s prose reminds me of my dearly beloved Flannery. Every pastor should read this book.
10. The Name of the Rose / Umberto Eco
A Medieval murder mystery set in a monastery where the monks keep dying, strange things keep happening in the library, and all the important clues are in Latin. This novel has the texture of tapestry. Eco certainly did his homework.
Happy New Year!