Recommended Reads

Here are some things I’ve read recently:

In time, I’ll try to add some “all time favorites” as well. In the meantime, see (here) for three books that changed my life.

February Reading, 2017:

  • Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight) (see here).
    • A geneticist (Venema) and Bible scholar (McKnight) team up to address the question of the historical Adam and Eve. This has been a renewed debate of late since genomic evidence claims to show conclusively that humans emerge from an ancestral population of around 10,000, not from an original couple. My Take: Venema’s chapters on science are fasicnating, but for the biblical-theological implications I think Collins (here), Walton (here), and McCall (here) offer clearer treatments of the issues in play.
  • The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (Fleming Rutledge) (see here).
    • Rutledge tries to do for Mainline denominations what Stott did for evangelicals with his classic work The Cross of Christ (here).  The strength of the book lies in her fantastic illustrations from literature and history, and in her openness to doctrines (i.e., penal substitution) that have been off limits to many Mainline Christians. Beautifully written. Voted Book of the Year by Christianity Today.
  • The Power and the Glory (Graham Greene) (see here).
    • A classic and a modern crucifixion tale. Set in the 1930s, a drunkard called “whisky priest” is on the run from a murderous anti-clerical regime in a southern state of Mexico. Greene’s book was condemned by many Catholics for revealing problems with the clergy, but Pope Paul VI told the author in a private audience “not to worry about it.” I liked the story so much that I chose to interweave quotations from it in a recent chapter for my upcoming book on the atonement. A must read.
  • East of Eden (John Steinbeck) (see here)
    • The greatest American novel? I’m currently rereading it quite slowly. Like The Power and the Glory, the story is suffused with biblical themes: family, the fall, and Promised Land. It traces two fractious families in  Steinbeck’s own Eden, California’s Salinas Valley in the early 1900s. In this journey they powerlessly act out the stories of Adam and Eve, as well as Cain and Abel. (Personally, I think it’s far better than what is likely Steinbeck’s more well-known work, The Grapes of Wrath.)
  • Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates) (see here)
    • I’ve heard so much about this book–written as a series of letters from a black father to his young son. Although I just started it, I can say that Coates writes beautifully.  And while I don’t think I’ll agree with everything, I’m trying to do better at simply listening this year. “Race is the child racism, not the father” (7).