Best Books in 2011

Amazing it’s already the end of 2011. Where did this year go? In any case, it’s time to ponder the best biblical and theological books of the year. As usual, this list is unapologetically subjective. Also, while I contributed to the flood of publications myself (Excellence, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation), I did not include any of my own books. So, then, here are my picks:

1. G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Baker): In my blurb, I say, “Beale’s volume is far reaching, written at a high scholarly level, and conversant with a wide range of scholarship. Even where one may disagree, Beale’s treatment is always informative and at times even provocative. A very important contribution to biblical theology that deserves to be widely read.”

2. Understanding the Times: New Testament Studies in the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of D. A. Carson on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (Crossway). As Simon Gathercole writes, “A remarkable series of studies in honor of a remarkable man. Carson’s influence has been extraordinary, and this book explores a number of his particular interests with great skill.” The book includes essays by Stan Porter, Grant Osborne, Mark Dever, John Woodbridge, Douglas Moo, Peter O’Brien, Eckhard Schnabel, Robert Yarbrough, and others.

3. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (Crossway). In his commendation, D. A. Carson writes, “Among the many books that have recently appeared on mission, this is the best one if you are looking for sensible definitions, clear thinking, readable writing, and the ability to handle the Bible. DeYoung and Gilbert pastor in Michigan and Kentucky, respectively.

4. George Guthrie, Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word (B&H). David Platt writes about this book, “In the church’s dry desert of biblical illiteracy, this book is a drink of cold, refreshing water.” This book is part of a bigger project. It includes, in a conversational format, interviews on hermeneutical topics with scholars such as David Dockery, Bruce Waltke, Darrell Bock, Craig Blomberg, Donald Whitney, and others.

5. George Kurian, ed., The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. 4 vols. (Blackwell). After a major delay in publication, Blackwell just released this new reference work. An online edition is available on Wiley Online Library at The entries are written by a team of over 350 scholars and teachers from more than 24 countries. It includes over 1,420 entries on a vast range of topics.

6. Gregg Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Zondervan). In his foreword, Wayne Grudem writes, “This book is an amazingly rich resource that traces the development of thirty-two major doctrines from the time of the New Testament to writers in the present day. Every chapter provides a fascinating story that is hard to put down because it shows how God has worked in Christians’ lives over the centuries to allow one heresy after another to challenge the church, then to raise up courageous, wise teachers and writers to respond to the wrong teaching with a new and deeper understanding of Scripture, resulting in even stronger faith in God and his Word.”

7. Eugene Merrill, Mark Rooker, and Michael Grisanti, The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament (B&H). Long in the making, this is the companion volume to The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown. Edwin Yamauchi says about this volume, “The World and the Word should become a standard textbook at many evangelical colleges and seminaries, as well as a welcome resource for lay persons interested in the Old Testament.”

8. Bruce Ashford, ed., Theology and Practice of Mission: God, the Church, and the Nations (B&H): Here is what Christopher Wright about this book: “It is enormously encouraging to read a book on mission that consistently puts God and God’s mission first, that applies the grand biblical framework of creation, fall, redemption and new creation thoroughly and repeatedly across almost every issue it addresses, and which tackles some very controversial areas with grace, wisdom, and biblical thoroughness.”

9. Andrew Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology (Concordia). Praise for this volume comes from Eugene Merrill who says, “Steinmann lays out here a foundation that doubtless will provide the basis for all subsequent discussions of biblical chronology.” Nicholas Perrin writes in the foreword, “Steinmann gives a guided tour of sacred time. … A delight to read.”

10. Daniel Akin, Bill Curtis, and Stephen Rummage, Engaging Exposition: A 3-D Approach to Preaching (B&H): All three authors of this book are seasoned preachers who have a keen interest in hermeneutics as well a commitment to engage contemporary Christians with the message of the Word of God. Wayne McDill writes, “Engaging Exposition well lives up to its title. [The authors] have provided a detailed and practical guide for the preacher who wants to take the biblical text seriously and connect with the contemporary audience at the same time.”

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