I’ve been tagged in a 5-book meme by Mike Koke. The name of the game is to “name the five books or scholars that had the most immediate and lasting influence on how you read the bible”. So here they are.
(1) Malina & Rohrbaugh’s Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels and Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John. Until meeting Dick Rohrbaugh in college, the world of the bible had always been alien and hostile to me. I suppose it still is, but I can at least respect why thanks to work like this.
(2) Ed Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism. I cut my teeth on this as an undergrad, and it was as much responsible for hooking me on biblical studies as the above social science approaches. No work stands as a better illustration of the danger of foils and false starts. Over summer vacation I read the book again, just for fun.
(3) Dale Allison’s “Apocalyptic” Trilogy: Millenarian Prophet, Resurrecting Jesus, and The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus. Channeling Schweitzer, these books oppose conservative and liberal apologetics in equal measure, and present Jesus in all his flawed and deluded humanity. The second and (especially) third books dip into theology that even secular folks like me can learn from.
(4) Philip Esler’s books on Galatians and Romans, & Mark Nanos’ books on Galatians and Romans. Mentor and student couldn’t be more opposite in their view of Paul and the law, but they ask all the right questions and think outside the box while eschewing idiosyncratic theories. I’ve found myself persuaded by Esler’s evolving anti-nomian Paul, but Nanos’ Jewish-friendly apostle can’t be dismissed as mere apologetic. One is a healthy check against the other.
(5) Bill Herzog’s Parables as Subversive Speech. There’s much to agree and disagree with here, but no book has raised my awareness of unspoken cues and hidden transcripts as much as this one.
And no, I’m not going to tag anyone else.
UPDATE: Check out everyone else’s lists gathered by Ken Brown.