I often have people ask me: “What are you reading these days?” Here are a few books that I have been enjoying lately, along with a few brief comments about each.
History/Biography: This book from Philbrick is a fascinating study of the minds of General George Custer and Sitting Bull. I am not only enjoying an honest look at what really happened at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, but gaining many leadership lessons on why people follow leaders and how far they are willing to go. If this is your first introduction to Philbrick, I would also recommend his book Mayflower.
Biblical Studies: I have always appreciated the writings of Kenneth Bailey. Bailey did his doctoral work in the Middle East by asking Bedouins, who continue to live in a very similar culture as the first century, to analyze the teachings of Jesus, particularly Jesus’ parables. If you haven’t read The Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels, and Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians, plan on picking them up. They offer very insightful historical and sociological perspectives on the New Testament that will inform your preaching. Jacob and the Prodigal reflects his ideas of how Jesus interpreted certain passages from the Hebrew Bible, and thereby how Jesus preached them in his context, including the Jacob story and its influence on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son.
Preaching: Arthurs book is a good current study on preaching from the various literary forms of the Bible. While Tom Long’s book, Preaching the Literary Forms of the Bible, was groundbreaking, Arthurs book is probably more helpful to contemporary pastors. This is one of the books I am requiring preaching students to read in the preaching class I am teaching this fall.
Theology: Synder is an esteemed Wesleyan scholar with keen insights into how Wesleyans participate in their culture in missional ways. This book is a collection of various lectures given and chapters written for other publications. He proclaims Christus Victor with clarity and passion.
Biography: For anyone who is an Oswald Chamber’s fan, this book is a must read. Filled with reflections form Chamber’s personal journal, McCasland has managed to capture the life and impact of a spiritual giant in his generation. I highly recommend this book both for information and for inspiration.