Best Reads of 2007
Taking a cue from some others, I’ve decided to post a list of the top 10 books I have read this past year. At the beginning of this year I decided to change my course of study. I had just finished my first semester of an M.A. in Biblical Studies at St. Stephen’s University in New Brunswick, Canada, when I came to the realization that my interests were more in systematics than biblical studies. This was extremely difficult for me to concede, for Marcia and I had just moved our whole life out to New Brunswick and Owen had just been born a few months earlier. However, after much prayer and discernment, we came to the conclusion that I should try to change the direction my studies a bit. I spent the next semester reading a lot of different material, mostly on theology. Although I did my undergraduate in theology, to be honest, much of the material I was reading was quite new to me. Because my interests had always been in biblical studies, I spent most of my time reading historical-critical volumes and flipping through Greek and Hebrew flash cards. Over the summer of 2007, after I had finished a year of my M.A. (I only had my thesis left!) I decided to do a strange thing. I decided to apply to the M.A. program at St. Thomas, my alma mater. The main reason I decided to transfer was because I felt like I needed more theological training before heading into a PhD program. After one semester at St. Thomas, I am happy to say I feel good about the decision to transfer.
The following books mark a distinct shift in my reading from biblical studies to theology. I have had a wonderful time diving into some heavy hitting material, but it has not been without some major challenges. I attempted to tackle Zizioulas’ two volumes this semester and he was certainly a challenge to get through. I found that struggling through his work was a worthwhile endeavor. Robert Jenson’s two volumes of his Systematic Theology blew me away.
Daniel Bell Jr.’s book on liberation theology raised important questions about the nature of capitalism and modes of resistance. I had a terrible time reading Milbank’s book but I found much of it quite persuasive and so I had to add it to the list. Gary Dorrien’s book on Barth was the most compelling read of the year. Rowan Williams’ book on the Resurrection was my favorite book of the year.
1. Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel by Rowan Williams
2. Being as Communion by John Zizioulas
3. Communion and Otherness by John Zizioulas
4. Systematic Theology Volume 1 and 2 by Robert W. Jenson
5. Liberation Theology After the End of History by Daniel Bell Jr.
6. Divine Economy: Theology and the Market by D. Stephen Long
7. For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy by Alexander Schmemann
8. With the Grain of the Universe: The Churchs Witness and Natural Theology by Stanley Hauerwas
9. Theology and Social Theory by John Milbank
10. The Barthian Revolt in Modern Theology: Theology Without Weapons by Gary Dorrien