Top Ten Reads of 2014

It's that time of year again, when people share their favorite reads of the year and my wish list quadruples. I knew that in the Fall I wanted to start preaching through the Gospel of Mark, so much of my reading was toward that end and many of those books ended up being my favorites from the year. These weren't necessarily published this year, but were my favs from 2014:

  • Life of Jesus by John Dickson - This is a survey of the life of Jesus with an emphasis on historical credibility. Dickson has done his work and is a great writer. This would be a good book to give to an intellectually curious non-Christian.
  • Isaiah's New Exodus in Mark by Rikki Watts - This book is super-dense but dead-bang packed with insightful exegesis and biblical theology. Isaiah was called the 5th gospel by the patristics for good reason. Mark had double-soaked his biscuit in Isaiah's new exodus vision.  Greek pretty much required. A shorter way to see this richness is in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament where Watts did Mark. 
  • Knowing God by J.I. Packer - I know, I know. Should've read this a decade ago. A modern classic, to be sure. Packer's puritanical piety is infectious. His chapter on propitiation, the heart of the gospel, is gold-plated platinum. You will worship. 
  • Expositional Preaching by David Helm - Best book on preaching I have read, in just 112 pages. After sitting in many a Southern Baptist chapel service, I can confidently say that not all expositors are expositors. Helm is a steady guide to help preachers submit the shape and emphasis on of the sermon to the shape and emphasis of the biblical text.
  • How God Became King by N.T. Wright - Wright is always stimulating and his prose never gets old. Here he unpacks the forgotten story of the Gospels. The "Elijah complex" can get old at times but he is right that too little attention has been paid to the Old Testament background and how it informed the first biographers of King Jesus. The story of Jesus is the proper climax to the story of Israel. He also shows that for them, the cross and kingdom were never meant to be separated. Jeremy Treat's The Crucified King is a book that argues similarly and would have made this list, but I didn't read the "Systematic Theology" section.
  • Galatians (BECNT) by Douglas Moo - I was waiting for this one for some time. Moo can be dry and tedious at times, but is my favorite commentator on Paul's letters. I think he is on point when it comes to the ever-thorny issue of Paul and the law, which looms large in his letter to the Galatians. He sees the benefits of the new perspective, while at the same time showing how it falls short in telling the whole story. There is a 10 page section in the Intro called "The Logic of Paul's Response" that is fine-tuned and gets to the heart of the gospel of grace not works. The Reformers were no fools.
  • Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne - Osborne is a seasoned leader and shares the wealth in this one. Lots of wisdom in this book on keeping your team and staff on the same page. 
  • Jesus: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Bauckham - Bauckham is gigabig brilliant. I once stole a dude's seat to sit next to him on a flight to Milwaukee. He was probably annoyed by my questions because he could have used that time to crank out a few articles and half a book. Actually, he was reading fiction! Anyway, the man knows his stuff and here he packs it into 115 pages. 
  • From Creation to New Creation by Tim Chester  - I love everything Tim Chester writes. He is a theologian for the church. This little biblical theology is great. It may be the one I recommend first from now on. Lots of helpful charts too. Chapter 1 is a five-star summary of the whole Bible.
  • Jesus the Radical by R.T. France - France is one of my favorite commentators. He is my "go-to" on the Synoptics. Here he distills all those years of reflection on the Gospels into a 221 page intro to the person of Jesus. Really good.


Archives:

Top Ten from 2013
Top Ten from 2012
Top Ten from 2011
Top Ten from 2010
Top Ten from 2009
Top Ten from 2008
Top Ten from 2007
Top Ten from 2006