Number 1 Most Influential Theological Book I've Read

The book that has had the biggest impact on my theology is without doubt N. T. Wright's magnificent book, The New Testament and the People of God.

As time goes by I find myself in disagreement with Wright on various issues (most especially with regard to his neo-supersessionist take on NT theology - on that I think that Wright is wrong). Nevertheless, this book continues to dominate my theological thinking as it has for the past sixteen years or so. It is fabulous!

So I say "Three cheers for Bishop Tom Wright! You have been a real blessing to the Church!"

I thought it might be fun if people commented on the single book that most impacted them. Comment away!


Anonymous said…
"Dissertation On The End for Which God Created The World" by Jonathan Edwards

Like many other theological issues, this one literally haunted me for a good while. I just couldn't imagine why God would ever create...this book truly settled that issue for me and also changed the vision through which I see Creation.

And, oh yeah, The NT and the People of God is also one of the best I've ever read. I would also argue that Jesus and the Victory of God is just as monumental. It's truly a great series all around.
Robin Parry said…

Edwards was a truly facinating Christian theologian (though I have not read that text).


Yes - Jesus and the Victory of God is very good indeed.

Kind Regards

Teresita said…
"Number 1 Most Influential Theological Book I've Read"

"The Book of J" by Professor Harold Bloom.

The first five books of the Bible were compiled by the Redactor (probably Ezra) around the time of the Exile using Jawist, Elohist, Priestly, and Deuteronomist sources. In this book Bloom separates out the "J" document alone and presents it in all its original glory. One thing that stands out in J is how interesting the female characters are compared to their male counterparts, and how the J document states origins in such a way that emphasizes the Kingdom of Judah's claim to the scepter over that of the northern Kingdom. After compiling all the evidence, Bloom makes the case that the author of J was a brilliant woman poet and writer in the court of Solomon. This of course appeals to my gynecentrism, but the commentary on the text is what grabs me. Yahweh as a deity is anthropomorphized to a greater extent in J than in any other source. He's a hands-on sort of God who must "go down" to see what they are building at Babel and actually wrestles with Jacob. Over time, Jewish priests cleaned up J's depiction of Yahweh by first calling his appearances to men "The angel of the LORD" which introduced a buffer (an example is the burning bush speaking to Moses) and even later angels were described as created conscious beings in their own right, messengers of Yahweh, thus completing his elevation to an unknowable transcendence.
Anonymous said…
Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity by Larry Hurtado
Mason said…
I would have to say Wright's "Jesus and the Victory of God", it is brilliently written and argued and brought a new vitality to my understanding of the Gospels and Messiah.

Also "The Drama of Doctrine" by Kevin Vanhoozer impacted my approach to doing theology quite a bit.
Robin Parry said…
Wow! This is so interesting.

Teresita - I have never read that book. It sounds very interesting and I love your passion for it (although I don't think I agree with all its analysis. I am somewhat sceptical about detailed reconstructions about various redactions of OT texts. Once you have read three critics and been presented with four different views you start to get sceptical). That said - on the trad analysis of J it certainly is quite anthropomorphic. Written by a woman? Nice idea but, sadly, I'd be amazed if it was true! (And I do have a soft spot for P and get 'upset' with 19th C Protestants suggesting that Israelite religion got all nasty and Catholic at the hadns of those infernal priests! I quite like the priests). But I must read it one of these days. It certainly sounds like fun.

Yes - it is a great book.

m slater
Good choice! (I have not read that Vanhoozer book but he's a good chap full of creative ideas)

Anonymous said…
Excellent pick, Robin. I too would say that 'The New Testament and the People of God' is one of the most influential books I've ever read, still coloring my thinking on the subjects of Exile, Messiah, Apocalypse and Eschaton.

A close second is Richard Hays' dissertation 'The Faith of Jesus Christ'. While I disagree with several individual points of his argument, the overall theological thrust of the book is persuasive, and, in turn, astounding.
Anonymous said…
Good choices one and all (IMHO).

Can I go all existential and have "Provocations" -- Charles Moore's anthology of Kierkegaard. You can get it as free (read only) ebook from Plough.

And Benedicta Ward's "The Desert Fathers". (I lived by that for three years.)

For feeding head and heart in equal measure: Dag Hammarskjold's "Markings" (I like journals and I'm scandinavian, or as you say in English "I'm pale and miserable").

And lastly Richard Foster's two great anthologies "Spiritual Classics" and "Devotional Classics".

Those have all touched either my head and heart in equal measure OR my heart first and through that my head.
Anonymous said…
On Being a Christian by Hans Kung is the single most influential theological book I've read. I am a layperson.
Robin Parry said…
John O

Yes, Hays on Galatians 3:1-4:11 is truly fascinating. I was persuaded and unpersuaded in equal measure. But a classic!

I see that thou art a devout man at heart. Must confess that I have not read these (except Foster).
You may be interested to know that we have a book coming out (not yet written) which tries to re-present Kierkegaard as a prophet to the contemporary church. You may also enjoy our monograph on 'discernment' in the desert fathers (commended by Benedicta Ward) and a wonderful dissertation called "Holiness: The Soul of Quakerism" which is one of the most powerful books I have ever read!

If you can make your way through a whole Hans Kung book then you have earned a medal. I did read Does God Exist? (or whatever) but it took forever! Tiny writing and hundreds of pages. What was it about the book that you liked so much? Sell it to me!

jonny_norridge said…
A bit lower brow than Wright's books mentioned so far, but "The Challenge of Jesus" blew my mind, and lead to me reading and exploring loads of other stuff.

Wyatt Roberts said…
N.T. Wright is the man! Great blog, Robin.
Anonymous said…
Favourite book?

The NT, right?

Anonymous said…

A nice post. I recommended it at Eclectic Christian along with a similar recommendation for a list of Christian classics put forward by Nigel Barham.

I also want to put in my own two cents for "Love is a Decision" by Gary Smalley and John Trent, which was a very important book for me about continuing to honor my wife in our marriage no matter what our circumstances.
Anonymous said…
This is not a theological book, but nonetheless it impacts my theology; Tolkiens Lord of the Rings. The whole thing.

Reading that story changed how i learned, changed how I communicated, and just blew me away with all the truth.

It was the first time I saw something communicated by story. (at the time the Bible was a Holy Instruction Manuel to me, not a story.)
J. B. Hood said…
I have to say I agree, Robin-- certainly when it comes to NT studies, NTPG is the single most influential book I've read. Prob other texts have influenced me more theologically, but in regards to the discipline, that book really did it for me. I owe a few categories I use on a regular basis to NTW.
J. B. Hood said…
I would also add that I think NTPG is under-rated, particularly viz. Jesus and the Victory of God. Probably thanks to the "Cult of the Historical Jesus". One of the great things about NTPG is that Wright tries to address history and texts, without dicing the latter up.
Robin Parry said…

Well N.T. Wright seems to have a lot of fans out there! Man alive!

Lord of the Rings? I read half of it and one day will finish the rest. I can see why people love it but - here comes the heresy - I preferred the films!!!! Sorry - I know that is almost criminal. Please don't hurt me.

"Love is a Decision"? Don't know that one but it sounds good.

Anonymous said…
My choice is Gregory MacDonald's "The Evangelical Universalist".

But I don't think anyone will ever see this -- being added to this page over one year later!
Robin Parry said…

Well I saw it. Thanks for those kind words.


Popular Posts