Five books on the Bible meme

Posted: 26th June 2009 by ElShaddai Edwards in Faith & Theology

Having been MIA when this meme originally made the rounds, I’ll thank John at Ancient Hebrew Poetry for including me on a “who’s still missing” list. The meme asks that we “name the five books (or scholars) that had the most immediate and lasting influence on how you read the Bible. Note that these need not be your five favorite books, or even the five with which you most strongly agree. Instead, I want to know what five books have permanently changed the way you think.

With that in mind, here is a five-book list as best as I can cobble it together:

1. William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible commentary series on the NT. A self-professed “liberal evangelical”, Barclay denied the supernatural in Jesus’ miracles in favor of non-miraculous natural explanations grounded in rational thought. While I may not agree with him on all of those points, I certainly agree with Barclay’s writing style for the common man. His commentaries are a treasure trove of historical context and his writing is accessible to all but the densest readers.

2. Kenneth Gentry’s Before Jerusalem Fell remains the standard apologetic for early-date authorship of Revelation and the partial preterist viewpoint. I had been introduced to the preterist view earlier, but Gentry’s book forever changed the way I read Revelation.

3. Garry Friesen’s Decision Making & the Will of God sealed a Wisdom-first approach to God and the Bible. Friesen rejects the traditional view that God has an individual Will or plan for each person that should guide our decision making process; instead we are free to make choices that can (should) be informed by the Wisdom of the Word. In many ways, this anticipates some of the Greg Boyd perspectives.

4. Calvin Seerveld’s The Greatest Song opened doors to exploring a musico-dramatic interpretation of Biblical texts. With this setting of the Song of Songs, Seerveld finds new voices in the text and brings them to life in a format that resonated strongly with me. His book of Psalms is similar, though not as multimedia focused. New translations like The Voice pick up elements of this dramatic presentation.

5. Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book is a convincing argument that reading the Bible is not an end to itself or a means of inviting God into our lives, but instead the means by which we join into God’s narrative and live in the Kingdom. Peterson aruges that our interest in reading the Bible is driven by our active participation in the reality of the Bible, in God’s Kingdom. When we cease to participate in God’s work, we cease to be interested in understanding God’s Word.

  1. jacob says:

    I thought you might be interested in learning about OUR Jewish traditions which embrace the real Christ. We are the Frankist Association of America. One of our members has a new book out:

    These are our teachings passed on through generations. If you can’t afford the book you can see the website of one of our teachers –


    Beth El Jacob Frank

  2. […] Edwards at He is Sufficient: William Barclay, Kenneth Gentry, Garry Friesen, Calvin Seerveld, Eugene […]

  3. John Hobbins says:

    I know of many many people who have found Barclay helpful. Thanks for reminding me of that.