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  • Beth Jones

book recommendations for Christians, from experts, for folks outside of their fields

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

I've got one of my favorite things for you: book recommendations!

I've asked some of the most interesting people I know--experts in a number of fields and subfields of interest to Christians--to recommend the one book they most wish folks outside of their field had read.

(Some recommended more than one book; professor types are sometimes bad at following instructions, and they love books, ....)

Dr. Derwin L. Gray

Co-founder & Lead Pastor of Transformation Church

Field: New Testament in Context

Recommends: Ken Boa, Conformed to His Image, Revised Edition: Biblical, Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation

Don't miss Dr. Gray's books, including How to Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation

Dr. Daniel Lee Hill

Assistant Professor of Christian Theology at Truett Seminary

Fields: Theological Studies, Theological Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Public Life

Recommends: Derek Walcott, White Egrets, Toni Cade Bambara, Gorilla, My Love, and Ellen Charry, God and the Art of Happiness

Don't miss Dr. Hill's book, Gathered on the Road to Zion

Aundi Kolber, MA, LPC, NCC

Licensed Professional Counselor

Field: Counseling and mental health

Recommends: Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Don't miss Kolber's Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode--and into a Life of Connection and Joy

Dr. Nijay Gupta

Professor of Theology, Northern Seminary

Field: New Testament Studies

Recommends: (especially for students) Michael F. Bird, Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible, (and especially for academics), John M.G. Barclay, Paul and the Gift

Don't miss Dr. Gupta's books, including Paul and the Language of Faith

Dr. Elesha Coffman

Associate Professor of History, Baylor

Field: American Religious History

Recommends: Kristen Kobes Du Mez, Jesus and John Wayne

Don't miss Dr. Coffman's work, including The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline

Dr. L. Roger Owens

Professor of Christian Spirituality and Ministry, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Field: Spirituality

Recommends: Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation

Don't miss Dr. Owens's books, including Everyday Contemplative: The Way of Prayerful Living

Dr. Jill Pelaez Baumgaertner

Professor of English emerita, Wheaton college, Poetry Editor, Christian Century

Field: Literature & Poetry

Recommends: Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov and Wisława Szymborska's View With a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems

Don't miss Dr. Baumgaertner's poetry, including From Shade to Shine: New Poems

Rev. Dr. Esther Acolatse

Professor of Pastoral Theology and Intercultural Studies, Knox College

Field: Pastoral Theology

Recommends: Shirley Guthrie, Christian Doctrine

Don't miss Rev. Dr. Acolatse's work, including Powers, Principalities, and the Spirit: Biblical Realism in Africa and the West

Dr. Beth Allison Barr

Associate Professor of History, Baylor University

Field: Medieval, Women's, & Church History

Recommends: Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe: New Approaches to European History, Lisa Bitel, Women in Early Medieval Europe, 400-1100; Merry E. Wiesner Hanks, Gender in History: Global Perspectives, Judith Bennett, History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism, and Larissa Tracy, Women of the gilte Legende: A Selection of Middle English Saints' Lives

Don't miss Dr. Barr's work, including The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth

Dr. Madison Pierce

Associate Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary

Field: New Testament Studies

Recommends: David Moffitt, Atonement and the Logic of the Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews (a crucial read, Dr. Pierce notes, because "it addresses several significant misunderstandings of Hebrews that come when we harmonize it with Paul too quickly.")

Don't miss Dr. Pierce's work, including Divine Discourse in the Epistle to the Hebrews: The Recontextualization of Spoken Quotations of Scripture

Dr. Lindsey Hankins

Assistant Professor of Theology; Historical Theology, George Fox University

Fields: Theology, Thomas Aquinas

Recommends: Frederick Bauerschmidt, Thomas Aquinas: Faith, Reason, and Following Christ (for those interested in Aquinas but not sure where to start), Janet Soskice, The Kindness of God: Metaphor, Gender, and Religious Language (for those interested in feminist theology).

Dr. Hankins's published work is forthcoming; I can promise you won't want to miss it when it becomes available.

Rev. Jessica LaGrone

Dean of the Chapel, Asbury Theological Seminary

Field: Preaching

Recommends: Alyce McKenzie, Novel Preaching: Tips from Top Writers on Crafting Creative Sermons

Don't miss Rev. LaGrone's books, including Broken & Blessed: God Changes the World One Person and One Family At A Time

Dr. Christopher Hays

President of ScholarLeaders International

Field: New Testament

Recommends: Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament

Don't miss Dr. Hays's work, including Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism

Dr. Carmen Joy Imes

Associate Professor of Old Testament, Biola University

Field: Old Testament Studies

Recommends: J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology; Sandra Richter, Stewards of Eden: What Scriptures Says about the Environment and Why It Matters; Christopher Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative

Don't miss Dr. Imes's work, including Bearing God's Name: Why Sinai Still Matters

Dr. Brian Howell

Professor of Anthropology, Wheaton College

Field: Cultural Anthropology

Recommends: Andrew Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith (for those interested in how people can think about the relationship of Christianity and culture), Philippe Bougois, In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (not a "Christian" book but one that can transform how we understand poverty, crime, violence, and race and immigration in the U.S.).

Don't miss Dr. Howell's work, including Short-Term Mission: An Ethnography of Christian Travel Narrative and Experience

Dr. Scott R. Swain President, Professor of Systematic Theology, RTS Orlando

Field: Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Recommends: R. B. Jamieson and Tyler R. Wittman, Biblical Reasoning: Christological and Trinitarian Rules for Exegesis

Don't miss Dr. Swain's work including The Trinity: An Introduction (Short Studies in Systematic Theology)

Dr. Matthew Milliner

Associate Professor of Art History, Wheaton College

Field: Art History

Recommends: Thomas Pfau, Incomprehensible Certainty: Metaphysics and Hermeneutics of the Image

Don't miss Dr. Milliner's work, including The Everlasting People: G. K. Chesterton and the First Nations