Books that I read recently (I’ve read 15 books so far this year, in pace for 40-45 books for the whole year):
1. James D. G. Dunn, Romans (The People’s Bible Commentary), BRF.
The People’s Bible Commentary (PBC) series is designed similarly with the New Testament for Everyone (NTfO) series. It can be read as a commentary and as a devotional at the same time. So it is targeted for popular audience, similar with the NTfO series. Each chapter covers only some verses and will dwell on the verses accordingly. Each chapter is pretty straightforward and can be read in 5-10 minutes. However, the PBC series doesn’t provide the texts of the Scriptures inside the book, unlike the NTfO series. So you need to bring your own Bible as well to read the passage before you read the devotional-commentary.
2. Tim Chester (Ed.), Justice, Mercy and Humility: Integral Mission and the Poor, Paternoster.
The book was given to all participants of FES National Conference 2008, and I just read it a month ago. It was a collection of writings from various authors, most of them were affiliated with Micah Network, a group of Christian relief, development and justice organisations from 81 countries, which was formed in 1999 with the aims for (1) capacity building, (2) fostering integral mission, and (3) advocacy. Readers would be exposed to various case studies of integral mission in multiple parts of the world. The subtitle hinted at a more emphasis on the poor, and that’s why those who are interested to know and develop more about integral mission on other areas will do well if they search for more resources.
Finally, the title, of course, is taken from the famous verse in the book of Micah: “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic 6.8) Indeed, the name of Micah Network was inspired by this verse.
3. F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, IVP Academic.
Septian once asked me what book to recommend if he wanted to learn about the canonization of New Testament writings. Now I know the answer. As Tom Wright put it in his foreword, this book was first published in 1943, had been revised a few times since, and is still reliable until today (pun intended).
The book is also available on-line here.
4. Alan Jacobs, Original Sin: A Cultural History, HarperOne.
It started with a certain Bishop from Hippo named Augustine, who argued (from Paul) that we were born with stain of sin. It also helped that (1) he inherited a sex-laden past and (2) he had a arch-enemy in the name of Pelagius, a British monk with a strict standard of holiness. From there Jacobs traced amusing glimpses of Western history and their relationship to the doctrine of original sin: purgatory, Augustine vs. Pelagius revisited in the 16th century, 17th century, and so on (it’s endless), the original sin of America (i.e., slavery), utopianism, and contemporary psychological analysis of sin.
As Jacobs noted, Augustinian anthropology offers us a realistic view of the world, but, unless it is taken with his theology, it is a truly damning verdict for the world.