The end (of the year) is near, and once again it’s time to list the best books in biblical and theological studies that appeared in 2008. This year seems to have been an especially fruitful year for publications in these areas. Here is my list:
1. The ESV Study Bible (Crossway): While people may debate the merits of the ESV as a translation, the qualities of the ESV Study Bible are indisputable. An exquisitely produced, high-quality product that sets a new standard for study Bibles.
2. Eckhard Schnabel, Paul the Missionary (InterVarsity Press): A worthy sequel to Schnabel’s landmark 2-volume work Early Christian Mission. The new “Ronald Allan” on Paul’s missionary practice. Both thorough and practical.
3. D. A. Carson, Christ & Culture Revisited (Eerdmans): A timely book on an all-important subject, the relationship between Christianity and contemporary culture. Carson properly takes his starting point from Niebuhr’s classic work Christ and Culture. A very important book.
4. Robert Stein, Mark (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Baker): I haven’t read Stein’s work in toto yet, but from what I’ve seen so far, this commentary is first rate, as one would expect from this senior Markan scholar.
5. David Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion (Mohr-Siebeck): The revised version of a dissertation at Cambridge University under William Horbury, this will be the standard work on crucifixion for a long time to come.
6. Margaret Elizabeth Köstenberger, Jesus and the Feminists (Crossway): This book should have been written a long time ago. A judicious survey of various feminist approaches to Jesus. J. I. Packer calls it “scrupulously fair.” In the interest of full disclosure: I am married to the author.
7. Cosmology of New Testament Theology (ed. Jonathan Pennington and Sean McDonough; T & T Clark): Finally, a monograph on this very important but widely neglect aspect of New Testament theology. Worldview matters, then and now.
8. Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell, Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: James (Zondervan): A great start to an important new series from Zondervan. Blomberg here teams up with Mariam Kamell, a doctoral student at St. Andrews University.
9. Suffering and the Goodness of God (ed. Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson; Theology in Community series; Crossway): Another promising start to a new series, with contributions by, among others, Robert Yarbrough, Walter Kaiser, Dan McCartney, and John Frame.
10. Clyde Fant and Mitchell Reddish, Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums (Eerdmans): A great publishing idea, and well executed. As a teacher and student of Scripture, this is a resource I will value highly.
Final note: Readers may want to be aware of the imminent publication of The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization (ed. George T. Kurian; Blackwell), a massive, 4-volume compendium. Ambitious in scope, with a large number of fascinating entries. Publication has been delayed until early 2009, however.