Books I will be Reading in 2011

I’ve seen a few of these posts floating around, and I find such lists interesting. It will also be helpful for me to be intentional about thinking over what I want to get through this year. Of course, this list is only an approximation; no doubt more books will come to mind, or to my attention, or will be published this year that I simply must read. But, as it stands right now, here’s what I have on my docket, in no particular order:

Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011).
Picked this one up at SBL and am excited to take a peek at it. Those who know the topic of my forthcoming volume with Eisenbrauns will know well this is an issue that is (tangentially) relevant to my own work, and an area I hope to take up more intentionally soon. I did take a gander at the end of the book to see how Copan ‘solves’ the problem of problematic portrayals of God in the OT, and I must admit a priori I am entirely dissatisfied to see that his answer is an appeal to Jesus. Read my RBL review of Eric Seibert’s Disturbing Divine Behavior when it comes out in a month or two and you’ll know some of why I find this problematic.

Walter Brueggemann, Out of Babylon (Nashville: Abingdon, 2010).
Brueggemann has told me this will most likely be the last full-length book manuscript he will attempt, and for that reason alone I am looking forward to reading it. It is vintage Brueggemann, wrestling with issues of the prophetic with a contemporary social agenda. The comparison between contemporary America and ancient Babylon is intriguing, and I will be curious to see how this book encapsulates his thought.

Mark J. Boda, A Severe Mercy: Sin and Its Remedy in the Old Testament (Siphrut 1: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009).
This volume, the first in a new series by Eisenbrauns, is a massive tome, coming in at over 500 pages of actual text. I am most interested in reading this work because of its inclusion in the Siphrut series, which focuses upon the synthesis/symbiotic nature of literature/literary approaches to the text and theology . . . such is my own methodological persuasion. Plus, to be entirely transparent, Eisenbrauns is publishing my dissertation in this exact same series (hopefully in 2011!), so I simply must read it!

Joel N. Lohr, Chosen and Unchosen: Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation (Siphrut 2: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009).
Again, another volume in Eisenbraun’s Siphrut series, this volume is of particular interest to me given its emphasis on the topic of election and non-election, which is a seminal and often grossly misunderstood topic–in my estimation–within the Bible. It is also relevant to my own work and understanding of Jacob and Esau in Genesis, and so I am anxious to look at how Lohr approaches this topic more broadly in the Pentateuch. I’ve read some of it, but I am anxious to dive in and tackle the rest.

Ronald Hendel (ed.), Reading Genesis: Ten Methods (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
Another book I picked up at SBL; I have looked at one of the essays dealing with the Jacob cycle more closely for inclusion in my own forthcoming book (gotta keep the bibliography up to date!), but I am always interested in the latest work being done on Genesis. As the subtitle suggests, a number of methods are employed in elucidating the biblical text, and I look forward to seeing specifically what methods–and how–the contributors employ. I am hopeful they are not too beholden to historical-critical methodologies as I have argued in my own work that there is much fruitful work to be done outside the bounds of such an interpretive posture.

John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009).
I’m obviously a bit behind the curve as this book has been reviewed nearly ad infinitum on the blogs. There is a professional project that I can’t mention explicitly yet that is especially pressing me to read this volume. I don’t get involved in the origins debate, but I have gathered that Walton is saying enough unique things about the text itself that this is worth reading so as to get a sense of where work on Gen 1 has gone.

Joel S. Burnett, Where Is God? Divine Absence in the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010).
Joel is a former teacher of mine at Baylor, and I am excited to read this most recent work of his. Again, the topic is (tangentially) related to my own work; if it deals with the characterization or understanding of God in the OT I am all over it. I am also especially interested how Joel will negotiate and handle other works with which I am familiar on the topic–especially Crenshaw–as I still remember getting Crenshaw’s Defending God from the Baylor library for him as a part of this project.

Jerome F. D. Creach, The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (St. Louis: Chalic, 2008).
I owe this book a review, which is one reason to read it, but I am also quite interested in metanarrative/holistic approaches to the Psalter. I find the work of Gerald Wilson to be absolutely transformative in Psalms scholarship, and I am always intrigued by how all those who come after him continue to wrestle with the issue and refine–and at times challenge–his seminal contributions. Creach’s ‘center’ or heart of the Psalter is the life and destiny of the righteous. I am eager to crack this one open to stay current on my own work in Psalms. I still have a Psalms article on the conclusion to Book IV I need to expand and send off!

Terence E. Fretheim, God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005).
Aside from Genesis, Old Testament theology ranks a close second in terms of my true loves in the guild. Fretheim’s book The Suffering of God literally transformed my entire perspective on the biblical text and its conception of God (so much so that I used it in one of my classes I am currently teaching); I have a tremendously deep respect for Fretheim’s serious theological engagement with the text and the relationship of integrity between God and creation/humanity. This, his OT theology, has been on my ‘must read’ list for a long time. Now is the time!

Brevard S. Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992).
I am ashamed to admit I have not yet read this classic. Over time I have become less of an advocate of Childs’ canonical approach (for a variety of reasons I won’t elucidate here), but I cannot discount that he is a pivotal figure in the way we interpret biblical texts. I literally think we can speak of interpretation pre- and post-Childs as two quite different enterprises; he is a formative and transitional figure in the movement to more holistic approaches of which I am an advocate. To be a serious scholar of Old Testament theology, this is a must-read. And read it I will.

John Goldingay’s 3-volumes on OT Theology (Israel’s Gospel / Israel’s Faith / Israel’s Life)
A HUGE undertaking, but Goldingay is an important and recent voice to be heard (among the most recent of those doing Old Testament theology). I am actually very excited about the length of these volumes; that means I have high expectations that many of the issues so prevalent in OT theology will be addressed in some substantive way. I often find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with Goldingay, oftentimes on the same point (makes no sense, right?!), so I fully expect these to be a challenging and illuminating set of readings.

That’s a good and thorough starting list, I think. There are already a few forthcoming volumes I know I will dive into, among them David Lamb’s God Behaving Badly (IVP, June 2011) and of course MY BOOK, tentatively titled Jacob and the Divine Trickster: A Theology of Deception and YHWH’s Fidelity to the Ancestral Promise in the Jacob Cycle (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, forthcoming [hopefully] 2011).

Your thoughts? Have you read any of these?

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13 thoughts on “Books I will be Reading in 2011

  1. Jason says:

    I’ve only read Walton’s (and I anxiously await his more technical volume on the same subject) and found it compelling. I am interested to read your thoughts on Copan as he is primarily a philosopher.

  2. Richard says:

    I’ve read Walton and Childs. Both were good. I am hoping to read Brueggemann’s The Land: Place as Gift, Promise and Challenge in Biblical Faith and Michael Horton’s new systematic theology, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way. I will be finishing Gregory Dix’s The Shape of the Liturgy.

  3. Ed Babinski says:

    I have a paper on the biblical cosmology of Genesis 1 that might interest you, sent on request. I also cited Walton among other scholars in the paper. Contact me at leonardo3 (at} msn {dot] com

  4. Ed Babinski says:

    Paul Copan’s book should be read along with Thom Stark’s reply in THE HUMAN FACES OF GOD. Stark and Copan have been exchanging emails on the topic for some time. See also Stark’s blog, and this recent review by Stark to get an idea of what Copan’s arguments, among other apologetic attempts, leave out:

    religionatthemargins.com/2010/11/the-joshua-delusion

    Also google this search string:

    “paul copan” “thom stark”

    Stark’s chapter in THE HUMAN FACES OF GOD on the mass slaughters are also very recent and deal with Copan’s views.

    http://humanfacesofgod.com/?page_id=11

  5. John Anderson says:

    I should add I’ll also be (re-)reading Fretheim’s The Pentateuch and Clifford’s The Wisdom Literature in Abingdon’s Interpreting the Bible series, along with Lundbom’s 2010 introduction to the prophets published by Fortress. But those are me reading along with my students.

    @James: Not hard to do with such a great series!

    @Jason: I have heard bits and pieces of Walton’s argument, so I am trying not to let that color my reading too much. I want to be a sympathetic reader and base my decision on the case he makes. We shall see.

    @Jason: Anything Brueggemann does is good and worth reading! I’ll refrain from commenting on systematic theology.

    @Ed: I almost bought Stark’s book at SBL but thought it looked more like a piece on inspiration, etc. than on problematic portrayals of God (though those no doubt figure in). Maybe I’ll give it a second look. The book has certainly gotten some good press. Hopefully mine will receive the same attention when it comes out soon.

  6. RobKashow@gmail.com says:

    I’m reading Copan along with Freitham (creation untamed) currently in a class I’m taking with Chisholm, ‘knowing god through the ot.’ (along with mettinger, brueggeman, and penchansky). What a dark world you must have lived in all your PhD years! *wink* Definitely enjoying the class and the reading assignments.

  7. Ed Gentry says:

    I’ve read Fretheim. Its excellent as usual. Though I read it on the heals of reading Levenson’s Creation and the Persistence of Evil. I wish Fretheim had interacted more with Levenson’s arguments. Were you planning to review Fretheim? I may want to interact with it from Levenson’s perspective. To be honest I hope that Fretheim is correct overall but I am not entirely convinced.

    I’ve read Childs too. I have very mixed feelings. I so appreciate Childs’ attention to the diachronic nature of the text as well as its final form. But I think he is too quick to synthesize perhaps there is already too much Brueggemann in my blood.

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