I have been in seminary for the past 1,000 years and am nearing the end. Along the way I have had the opportunity to read a lot of books about faith and interpreting scripture. While MANY of the books are not readable because of their use of Academish in place of English, there have been several that I have loved and would love anyone I know to read for themselves. Here is a round of recommendations from my millennium in seminary.
The Epic of Eden by Sandra Richter: By far, hands down, the most formative, interesting, and exciting class I had in seminary was Old Testament with Sandra Richter. I do not think that there has been a single month that I have not referred to the material from that class since I took it 900 years ago.
A couple years ago I was looking for a resource to teach about the Old Testament when I discovered that the class had been written in book form by this brilliant professor. Not only that, she writes like a normal human being rather than a professor. If there is any book you ever decide to read on the Old Testament besides the Bible itself, this should be the one. Period. Actually, stop reading this and buy the book now.
Hearing the New Testament by Joel Green: There is more than one method for interpreting the Bible. In fact, this book explores seventeen! While some of the chapters are a bit heavy and some outright weird, the way this book opens up your eyes to the many perspectives from which you can view the scriptures is uniquely powerful and exciting.
Since each chapter is a different method (and each only 20 pages or so), grab the book, open to a chapter, and if you don’t like it or don't connect to it, skip to another chapter. Seriously. This is a fun book because of its broad palette.
Theology in the Context of World Christianity by Timothy Tennent: Is the God of Muhammed the Father of Jesus? Is Salvation through faith unique to Christianity? What changes about how we see human identity in the shame-based cultures of the East?
Christianity is a global faith. However, as American Christians we often get our cultural values confused with our Theology. This book not only helps us dissect our culture and theology, but it helps us understand the movement of God as it is spreading through the world. It is brilliant, orthodox, and accessibly written. Also, it is written by the President of the seminary from which I will graduate.
New International Commentary on the New Testament: If there is one thing I learned in Seminary it is that the Bible has so much depth and so many layers that I will never exhaust it. Moreover, I do not have the time or attention span to become fluent in ancient languages and read cultural documents to be a scholar who makes original discoveries. I need the strong shoulders of the brilliant scholars to stand on so that I can explore the depths of scripture.
This set of books is the most accessible scholarly commentary series I have discovered. The authors do their best to put detailed, profound information in language most people can understand. If you ever want to go in-depth with a book of the Bible, you can purchase the physical or ebook version of that Biblical book’s commentary. You’re welcome in advance. I particularly have enjoyed the commentary on the Gospel of Luke.