As a junior scholar I am still amassing my personal library (contra my wife, who already thinks I have far too many books; odd, I feel the same way about her clothes and shoes!). So I pose this question to my readers, and invite you all to comment: what books HAVE TO BE on the shelf of a true HB/OT scholar? In other words, what books should every OT scholar own, and why?
Just to get things rolling (but not usurp the conversation), here are a few off the top of my head . . .
*Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology (2 vols.) – dated, but I continue to learn from (and agree with) von Rad on many occasions!
*Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy – the first truly postmodern OT theology, and one that sets out truly to read the text, warts and all, and interpret it theologically.
*Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon – DUH!
*Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar – certainly not a teaching grammar, but a great reference grammar that has stood up to time.
*Context of Scripture (3 vols.) – even for us literary/rhetorical folk, gotta have the ANE stuff covered.
*Norman Gottwald, The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction – another formative book given its methodology.
*Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic – still a formative book several decades later; classic Cross.
*Brevard Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture – I cannot underestimate the importance of Childs in bringing about a paradigm shift in biblical studies, largely through this volume. While I am not as amenable as I once was to the canonical method as he describes it, this is truly a must have book if you want to call yourself an OT scholar.
*Emmanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible – the definitive work on TC; I’ve read it and still reference it. Great resource.
*Hermann Gunkel, Psalms: Introduction to the Religious Lyric of Israel – Gunkel revolutionized study of the Psalter, and while form criticism is no longer at the fore within psalm study at present, this is a seminal volume that one must have.
*Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative – with literary/narrative critical approaches very much ‘in vogue’ right now, this is a wonderful volume, with great examples, that shows the communicative power of both what and how the Hebrew text means.
*Terence Fretheim, The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective – perhaps a less familiar choice to many, this book should be read by all OT scholars–whether you agree or not with Fretheim on the presentation of God–so that you are aware of the issues involved. This book has been formative and transformative for me, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
*Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality AND Texts of Terror – two works by a scholar I deeply respect that have also transformed biblical studies in a way that was much needed; Trible’s perspective is one any OT scholar must be familiar with.
That’s a fair start; I’m curious what others will suggest, and why.