Thursday, January 08, 2009

Building a New Testament Exegesis Library

If you want to build a solid library with books that will help you understand and interpret the New Testament, Denver Seminary's NT exegesis bibliography is a very helpful place to start. I've consulted it for years, and they revise it as new works are published each year.

Craig Blomberg and colleagues provide eleven recommendations for each NT book. What's helpful is that they use three categories: (1) detailed, critical commentaries using the Greek text; (2) more mid-level works using the English text (some with references to the Greek in footnotes); and (3) commentaries that are briefer and/or have a special focus on application. For each category they mark at least one book with an asterisk for priority acquisition.

This can feel a bit overwhelming, so my recommendation would be to start with D.A. Carson's list of "best buys." Here's my rule of thumb for NT commentary buying: if you see the names Carson, O'Brien, or Moo on the cover, it's a good buy!

But back to the Denver list. Another helpful feature is that they have broken down the non-commentary books into ten categories:
  1. Textual Criticism
  2. Grammar
  3. Introduction
  4. Historical Background (Lexical Analysis, History and Religion, Primary Source Material)
  5. Theology
  6. Dictionary / Encyclopedia
  7. Criticism
  8. Hermeneutics
  9. Jesus and the Gospels
  10. Paul
Seeing this listed out can help you identify gaps in your library.

As with the commentaries, they select certain books in each category as top priority for acquisition. ("Others would be good to have if and when finances allow.")

I thought it might be helpful to list below just the "top priority" volumes and provide the links to Amazon. (Remember that the full bibliography includes a number of additional books for each category.)
1. Textual Criticism

Metzger, B. M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. London & N.Y.: United Bible Societies, 1994.2

Wegner, P. D. A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods and Results. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006.

2. Grammar

Black, D. A. It's Still Greek to Me. G.R.: Baker, 1998.

Wallace, D. B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. G.R.: Zondervan, 1996.

3. Introduction

Carson, D. A. and D. J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. G.R.: Zondervan, 2005.2

deSilva, D. A. An Introduction to the New Testament: Context, Methods and Ministry Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004.

4. Historical Background

A. Lexical Analysis

Bauer, W. (Danker/Arndt/Gingrich). A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. 3

Brown, C., ed. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols. G.R.: Zondervan, 1975-1978.

Louw, J. P. and E. A. Nida. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2 vols. New York: United Bible Societies, 1988.

B. History and Religion

Ferguson, E. Backgrounds of Early Christianity. G.R.: Eerdmans, 2003.3

Keener, C. S. The IVP Biblical Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Witherington, B., III. New Testament History: A Narrative Account. G.R.: Baker, 2001.

C. Primary Source Material

Evans, C. A. Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2005.

5. Theology

Marshall, I. H. New Testament Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004.

Thielman, F. New Testament Theology. G.R.: Zondervan, 2005.

6. Dictionary / Encyclopedia

Green, J. B., S. McKnight, and I. H. Marshall, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992.

Hawthorne, G. F., R. P. Martin, and D. G. Reid, eds. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Sakenfeld, K. D., ed. New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, 6 vols. Nashville: Abingdon, 2006- . [vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 4]

7. Criticism

Dockery, D. S. and D. A. Black, eds. Interpreting the New Testament. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001.2

McKnight, S. and G. R. Osborne, eds. The Face of New Testament Studies. G.R.: Baker, 2004.

8. Hermeneutics

Beale, G. K. and D. A. Carson, eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. G.R.: Baker, 2007.

Klein, W. W., C. L. Blomberg and R. L. Hubbard, Jr. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Nashville: Nelson, 2004.2

9. Jesus and the Gospels

Bauckham, R. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. G.R.: Eerdmans, 2006.

Blomberg, C. L. Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1997.

Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996.

Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003.

10. Paul

Dunn, J. D. G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. G.R.: Eerdmans, 1998.

Gorman, M. J. Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters. G.R.: Eerdmans, 2004.

Polhill, J. B. Paul and His Letters. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1999.

Wright, N. T. Paul: In Fresh Perspective. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005.
A couple of notes:
  1. Unless you need it right away, I'd hold off on getting Blomberg's excellent Jesus and the Gospels. The second edition is supposed to be published later this year.
  2. In the areas of Paul and NT Theology, I'd make Tom Schreiner's two volumes top priority: Paul, Apostle of God's Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology and New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ.
Update: Links fixed.