2011 Books of the Year

Because I try to stay on top of new theology book releases from Christian publishers, when I choose my books of the year, they are mostly from the field of Christian books. I do read many other books published by “secular” presses throughout the year, but I rarely read them in the same year they are published. This year, for example, I finally got around to reading Laura Hillenbrand’s incredible book Unbroken, although it was a 2010 release. And I do plan to read Walter Isaacson’s 2011 release Steve Jobs, but probably not for another year or so. So when I choose my favorite books for 2011 they are Christian books.

Choosing my top two favorites published in 2011 was no challenge. Here they are:

First, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by G. K. Beale. The theme of “inaugurated eschatology” is not a new one in theology, but there doesn’t seem to have been many attempts to center a full theology of the Bible around the theme. Enter Beale. Beale’s work is a massive and excellent contribution, arguing that eschatology is not something relegated merely to the future. For Beale, the end-time new creation has already begun, a fact that permeates our Bibles. And he’s spot on.

Second, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards by Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott. In the last few years Yale has completed their online archive of the writings of Jonathan Edwards, so it was only a matter of time before we saw attempts to bring theological synthesis to his writings. This is the first major attempt. I’m certain more will follow in the future, but this one is a gem — readable, enjoyable, and a comprehensive look at the many God-centered facets of Edwards’ thinking. “One might interpret the whole of Edwards’s theology as the gradual, complex outworking of a vision of God’s beauty.” Bingo! In this sense McClymond and McDermott “get” Edwards’s theology.

And here is my full top-ten list:

  1. Greg Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Baker)
  2. McClymond and McDermott, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford)
  3. Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (Dutton)
  4. Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Zondervan)
  5. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Abridged in One Volume (Baker)
  6. John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God (P&R), technically released at the end of 2010.
  7. Jared Wilson, Gospel-Wakefulness (Crossway)
  8. Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (Dutton)
  9. Russell Moore, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ (Crossway)
  10. DeYoung and Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (Crossway)

On a related note, you can also find my books of the year for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010.

IVP Reference Bundles for Logos

In my research I am often most helped by solid Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, so I keep a good number of them at hand. While the breadth of information packed into a tightly-edited 5-pound dictionary is impressive, trying to manage all the information is a daunting task—unless that information is electronic and searchable. Thankfully electronic reference books are becoming more common thanks to advanced Bible software programs like Logos.

For the past few months I have benefited from two IVP reference bundles in particular:

The Essential IVP Reference Collection Version 3 ($190.00). Works include:

  • New Dictionary of Biblical Theology
  • New Dictionary of Theology
  • The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
  • New Bible Commentary
  • Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
  • Dictionary of Paul and His Letters
  • Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments
  • Dictionary of New Testament Background
  • IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament
  • IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament
  • New Bible Dictionary
  • … and other smaller volumes

IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament Bundle ($109.95). Works include:

  • Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch
  • Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books

Anyone familiar with IVP reference works knows these are not ordinary volumes but the fruit of top-tier biblical scholars like D. A. Carson, Desmond Alexander, Graeme Goldsworthy, Sinclair Ferguson, J. I. Packer, Leland Ryken, Tremper Longman, and others. IVP is to be commended for upholding such high standards on their line of reference books.

The books in these two bundles represent 14,000 pages of printed material and cover a broad range of topics: biblical theology, systematic theology, biblical imagery, Jesus and the gospels, Paul, the latter NT letters, important Biblical history and background studies, plus excellent volumes on the Old Testament [note: to date the newest volume the OT series, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (2008), is not yet available electronically]. The bundle also includes my favorite single-volume commentary on the Bible, The New Bible Commentary.

Adding these volumes in my Logos library allows me the freedom to search all the volumes in seconds and easily find cited biblical references (huge benefit!), keywords, and keyword phrases. Rather than surrounding myself with bulky dictionaries, I can take my laptop to the coffee shop and search them exhaustively with nothing more than a few keystrokes.

There are a number of good arguments for the value of electronic Bible software platforms but few are more compelling than the efficiency of sweeping across 14,000 pages of thick reference materials in a few seconds to locate a precious needle of insight in a large encyclopedic haystack. And that is exactly what these additions to my e-library make possible. If you can afford it, the IVP reference bundles are a key addition to any Logos library.