• Beth Jones

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

Updated: Sep 7

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

Dr. Ingrid Faro

Visiting Professor of Old Testament, Northern Seminary


Fields: Old Testament and Semitic Languages


Recommends: Rebekah Eklund, Practicing Lament; Sandra Glahn, Sandra (editor), Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible; Catherine L. McDowell, The Image of God in the Garden of Eden; Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible.

Don't miss Dr. Faro's work, including Evil in Genesis.

Dr. Scot McKnight

Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary


Field: New Testament Studies


Recommends: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship.








Don't miss Dr. McKnight's work, including A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing

Dr. Matthew Schlimm

Professor of Old Testament, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary


Field: Old Testament


Recommends: Amanda Beckenstein Mbuvi, Belonging in Genesis: Biblical Israel and the Politics of Identity Formation.







Don't miss Dr. Schlimm's work, including 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know

Dr. Joy J. Moore

Professor of Biblical Preaching Luther Seminary


Field: Homiletics


Recommends: Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character







Don't miss Dr. Moore's work, including at Working Preacher.

Dr. Amy Brown Hughes

Associate Professor of Theology, Gordon College


Fields: Historical Theology, Early Christianity


Recommends: Elizabeth A. Clark, Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity






Don't miss Dr. Hughes's work, including (with Lynn H. Cohick), Christian Women in the Patristic World: Their Influence, Authority, and Legacy in the Second through Fifth Centuries

Dr. J. Warren Smith

Professor of Historical Theology at Duke Divinity School


Field: Patristics


Recommends: Hans Boersma, Scripture as Real Presence: Sacramental Exegesis the Early Church












Don't miss Dr. Smith's work, including The Lord's Prayer: Confessing the New Covenant.