>While I was away attending the Acton Institute, I was tagged by Darrell Pursiful to participate in a meme.
The challenge of this meme is to name five books or scholars who had the most immediate and lasting influence on how I read the Bible. According to the original challenge, these books need not be my five favorite books. Rather, the list must include the five books that have permanently changed the way I think.
So, here is my list:
1. Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, 2 volumes.
This was the first Old Testament theology I read in seminary. After I read Eichrodt, I also read Gerhard von Rad Old Testament Theology, but it was Eichrodt who helped me understand Old Testament theology. It is hard to explain in detail the influence of Eichrodt in my understanding of the Old Testament. Suffice it to say that I have used Eichrodt’s book as a text both in English and Spanish.
2. Emil Brunner’s three volumes on Church Dogmatics: The Christian Doctrine of God, The Christian Doctrines of Creation and Redemption, and The Christian Doctrine of the Church, Faith, and Consummation.
I read Brunner’s three volumes while I was working toward my Master’s degree. Brunner’s dogmatics helped me gain a better understanding of Christian doctrines. Together with his book Revelation and Reason, Brunner made a profound impression on me as a seminary student.
3. John Bright, A History of Israel.
Probably, more than any other book, John Bright’s A History of Israel has been formative in my understanding of the Old Testament. Notwithstanding all the criticism Bright has received from minimalists, deconstructionists, and revisionists, John Bright’s book presents what I still consider the best introduction to the history of Israel.
4. Joseph Callaway, Faces of the Old Testament.
Joseph Callaway was my major professor and the supervisor of my Ph.D. thesis. I served as his Garret Fellow (Teacher’s Assistant) for five years. I sat in every one of his classes, taught for him, and attended all his seminars.
Callaway was a great archaeologist. He excavated Ai and Raddana and I had the opportunity to work with his field notes before his volumes on Ai were published. Faces of the Old Testament are based on his class lectures. When I read Callaway’s book, I recognize how indebted I am to his teaching.
5. Terence E. Fretheim, The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective.
Fretheim’s book has given me a better understanding of the God of the Old Testament. His book deals with the concept of divine suffering and the idea of divine pathos. His conclusion, that “suffering belongs to the person and purpose of God” has been neglected, rejected, and ostracized by many. However, when one reads Fretheim’s book, one must conclude that the suffering of God is an integral aspect of divine revelation. The best way to understand Fretheim’s book is to read it once for content and a second time for understanding.
Darryl, there you have my five books. Thank you for the invitation to join you and others in this challenge.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary