A seminarian’s life is a life of reading. Throughout a seminary degree program, you will read thousands of pages. In this series, “Recommended Reading,” we have selected some of the best books and articles assigned in seminary classes throughout North America.
Every Friday, we will feature five books in a variety of subjects, such as Old Testament, New Testament, Theology, Church History, among others. When possible, we will highlight special discounts and promotions of free books, as seminarians are always looking to save a few bucks on books.
This Week’s Recommended Books
- Old Testament: An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard
- New Testament: The Expositor’s Greek Testament, vol. 5, by W. Robertson Nicoll
- Theology: Reformed Dogmatics, by Herman Bavink
- Apologetics: Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton
- Practical Theology: Called to the Ministry, by Edmund Clowney
Old Testament: An Introduction to the Old Testament (Longman and Dillard)
Synopsis: A standard, easy-to-read introduction to each Old Testament book. A useful resource for starting research on or reviewing a book of the Old Testament.
An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, is a standard introductory text to Old Testament books. It is written from an evangelical point of view yet deals fairly with critical scholarship. Emphasizing a special introduction to each book, the introduction focuses on the content of the book, although it also considers the historical and cultural setting that each book was written in. This is helpful for understanding the historical setting, literary aspects, and theological meaning in any Old Testament book.
An Introduction to the Old Testament is assigned reading in many Old Testament classes at both seminaries and Bible colleges. We’re purchasing it, because it will be a useful reference during ministry in the years to come. It is available on both Kindle and as a hardcover book.
New Testament: The Expositor’s Greek Testament, vol. 5 (Nicoll)
Synopsis: An old, but still useful commentary on the Greek text of the New Testament. Logos is offering volume 5 for free during July 2013, so why not download it?
The Expositor’s Greek Testament, by W. Robertson Nicoll, is one of the most thorough commentaries from the 19th Century. As you might guess from its name, it goes phrase-by-phrase through the Greek of the New Testament. Therefore, it will be most useful to those who know Greek. If you don’t know Greek, you might be better off passing on this one – unless you want it for free and plan on learning Greek sometime.
Admittedly, this is an old commentary. There have been many advances in New Testament Studies since it was published, and it will not address the current debates among New Testament scholars. Nevertheless, this is still a commentary worth having – if it is free, at least. D.A. Carson gives it his endorsement, saying, “The five volumes of the old Expositor’s Greek New Testament are still worth owning and reading, along with more recent works.”
We don’t recommend shelling out the $199.95 that Logos wants for all five volumes of the set, but we’re definitely going to download volume 5 for free. Those who don’t have Logos Bible Software can download the Logos 5 engine for free, which will let them read The Expositor’s Greek Testament.
Theology: Reformed Dogmatics (Herman Bavink)
Synopsis: An advanced articulation of the reformed tradition; a must-own resource for pastors of reformed churches. It should be read after reading an introductory Systematic Theology book.
Herman Bavink’s Reformed Dogmatics, a four-volume work, continues to be one of the best articulations of the Reformed Tradition. Richard B. Gaffin, a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, has only praise for Bavink’s work: “Arguably the most important systematic theology ever produced in the Reformed tradition – I have found it to be the most valuable. “
Reformed Dogmatics is not easy to read, but those who labor in it will be blessed. Those who have not read a rudimentary Systematic Theology book before may want to wait before diving into Bavink’s volumes. Anyone who is being trained in the Reformed Tradition, though, will come back to this work time and again.
We’re reading Bavink’s four-volume work, as this is the edition typically assigned in seminary classes. Those who want a condensed version, however, might want to purchase the much less expensive abridged, one-volume edition.
Apologetics: Orthodoxy (G.K. Chesterton)
Synopsis: Orthodoxy is a classic Apologetic work by G.K. Chesterton. It can be found free online or on Amazon’s Kindle.
Orthodoxy is one of G.K. Chesterton’s most well-known works. In this apologetic for Christianity, Chesterton presents the faith as the “answer to a riddle,” rather than an objective fact. This is a remarkable tact for his day, when science and technology were generally regarded as the answer to the world’s problems, before the World Wars. It is also a strategy that rings true in today’s postmodern culture.
Chesterton wrote Orthodoxy to “attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it.” That is an apologetic that any Christian can follow, and any reader can connect with.
Practical Theology: Called to the Ministry (Edmund Clowney)
Synopsis: Should be required reading for anyone considering attending Bible college or seminary.
Edmund Clowney’s Called to the Ministry should be required reading in your first semester of your theological training. Clowney argues against an emotionally based sense of calling, stating that the call of the Lord is clear, distinctive and personal. He also strongly encourages readers to begin ministering where they currently are, for the opportunities they have are where they are being called right now.
We’ve read this book, and highly recommend it to anyone considering going to a theology school. It is a short read, and will help you discern your specific calling.
Have a book to suggest? Let us know in the comments below.