Top Books I Read in 2019

I reflect here on some of the books I read in 2019. My Book of the Year? Well, read and find out!


This summer for the @themcckc Pastoral Internship, I read biographies with interns. This was one they chose. Amazed by M’Cheyne’s love for the Scriptures and people of his congregation and city.
I love memoir and biography, and this is a good one. Frame is so candid and I could sympathize in many places. I appreciated his concluding section on lessons learned and his emphasis on love and relationships as well as orthodoxy and fighting for truth.

@JGDuesing suggested this at an @mbts faculty meeting. I enjoyed reading Chesterton’s reflections. Chesterton’s wit is remarkable. He shows how Aquinas made Aristotle palatable for theology even though Aquinas was rejected for what many considered was a foray into philosophy. Chesterton argues powerfully that deductive reasoning eclipses inductive (Not sure I am fully persuaded). There are places where I had to put the book down; “hard to state the idea better than that,” I would say.
I read this with @themcckc Pastoral Interns. Just a delight. How did Stott do all that?! Stott, like M’Cheyne noted above, had such a heart for God’s word and the people of his church—but saw the global Anglican and Evangelical community as his parish.

Church Leadership

@RobertJMatz and @jmyeats have written what should be one of the most important books of 2019 for SBC leaders. They use narrative to argue for the validity and priority of the Cooperative Program.

Greek Grammar
I adopted this book for my Advanced Greek Grammar Ph.D. course @mbts. Burk provides a helpful analysis of articular infinitives and sets our principles of linguistics that students might apply to their particular areas of research. Excellent tables in the Appendices.
Another book I adopted for my @mbts Advanced Greek Grammar Ph.D. seminar. This volume exhibits principles of Halliday’s linguistic grid but does so in an accessible way. The charts in the final chapter are worth the price of the book.

I want students to appreciate linguistics and see how this line of study can help them to better understand Scripture. Longacre does that here. Charts are remarkable. This is a top-tier book for my @mbts Advanced Greek Grammar Ph.D. Seminar.
@toddlprice, a translator with Pioneers, is one of my best friends and has been for almost 20 years. We prayed each other through Ph.D. studies so it is a personal joy to use his book in my @mbts Advanced Greek Grammar Ph.D. seminar. Word-sense-possibility-disambiguation? We are more likely to know what a word means if we identify words it is most often associated with and forms it most often occurs in. Price argues that structural lexicography can help us better understand what words mean in the New Testament (as with other languages).

Harper demonstrates his creativity here. His prose is bright, making what could seem a boring book (ancient climatology) readable because he connects climate with politics, economic trends, and religion. Harper notes that climate change contributed to the downfall of the Empire. Harper noted that Christianity grew because Christians united to care for one another during catastrophe and hardship that resulted from climate instability. I have a full review here (
Remarkable evil was the Nazi regime and though France and Paris fell quickly, some fought under Hitler’s nose—for a time. Kershaw is a great writer. This is a page-turner.
A fun evening read but not my favorite McCullough book (Truman and Adams are hard to beat). The Pioneers were a courageous lot and exemplify perseverance. I read this with my wife, so that made it more enjoyable.

New Testament Studies

Really enjoyed Blomberg’s emphasis on theology and mission. He prioritizes Biblical Theology but does not exclude Systematics. Blomberg’s arrangement of how to do theology distinguishes it from its contemporaries. I have a full review here (

For a few years now I have been intrigued by the questions of the Greek New Testament so when I heard of Estes’ book, I got right to it. I enjoyed reading it with a couple of colleagues @mbts. Estes takes the questions of the New Testament and categorizes them into an external, logical framework. At times exegetical analysis proves fruitful but too often I had to wade through Estes’ categorizations first. I would like to see something like G.D. Fee’s Analysis/Synthesis grid in his books on Paul and the Spirit or Jesus and Christology be applied to questions in the Greek New Testament. (Any Ph.D. students reading?)

Hays’ volume is a must-have for students and teachers and pastors. I had hoped to get to it last year but was delayed until 2019. I read it with a colleague @mbts, making it all the more fun. Hay’s grid would require ancient readers to be very familiar with the Jewish Scriptures. I appreciate his thorough analysis of echoes but I am not persuaded that the average reader in the ancient world could hear all that he (and we) hear in the New Testament use of the Old Testament. I like Hays’ view that the Old Testament prefigures the New but advocate for a sharper line marking Jesus as a post-figural Being. Once Jesus arrives, the figuring is done.
Because it was released just last month, I have not yet read every page of this 900-plus page tome, but I have read enough to get the general scope of the book. It is my 2019 choice for Book of the Year. This volume combines some of Wright’s work in the Christian Origins and the Question of God Series with what might be expected in a New Testament introduction. Kudos to Michael Bird for pulling this off! Chapters 2-4, begin by setting out the History-Literature-Theology grid the authors adopt throughout the book. In other words, they start with hermeneutics. Then come three chapters on backgrounds. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God is reworked into Part III (chs. 8-11), The Resurrection of the Son of God into Part IV (chs 12-14), and Paul and the Faithfulness of God into ch. 15 in Part V. Analysis of the Pauline corpus follows in Part V (chs. 16-23). The authors then turn to the Gospels in Part VI (chs. 24-28). The authors present their analysis of the Catholic Epistles and Revelation in Part VII (chs. 29-34), Early Christians and the Mission of God. Part VIII (chs. 35-36), The Making of the New Testament, provides an introduction to NT textual criticism and the New Testament Canon. Part IX, Living the Story of the New Testament, contains just chapter 37 titled, “Bringing It All Together: Making the New Testament matter for today.”

            A few specifics: Argues that ideas of resurrection, as presented in the New Testament, would make sense in a Jewish worldview but not in a Roman one (314-15). Galatians was written to churches in South Galatia and was written prior to the Jerusalem Council (Gal 2:1-10 corresponds to Acts 11:27-30) (406). Romans 7:7-25 is Israel and not a Christian (519).
Provides an under-the-hood perspective on principles that guided Jongkind and Peter Williams as they edited the THGNT. The book serves as a primer on New Testament textual criticism. I appreciate the discipline the editors followed in using older Greek manuscripts. External evidence is foundational but the THGNT incorporates readings that accord internal evidence as well—and this introduction explains some of the readings that are based upon internal evidence. A commentary on the THGNT is in the works and Jongkind’s introduction whets the appetite for that volume.


@ostrachan writes an uncluttered doctrinal book that is accessible to readers. With chapters on work, technology, sexuality, and race, Reenchanting Humanity is a contemporary theology. This book benefits students and church leaders, marshaling Scripture to address the questions in the minds of church-goers young and old.