Building a Theological Library

Building a Theological Library

In America we are blessed to have an abundance of biblical resources available to us. Particularly in Philadelphia, we have university libraries, museums, and above all theological libraries belong to local seminaries. It is imperative that we as Bible students not only use the resources we have available to us but we also build theological libraries in our homes and in our churches. Briefly, let’s discuss why, how, and the benefits of building a theological library.

We should recognize that the Bible is part of our cultural currency in America. Regardless of our religious convictions the stories of the Bible are part of our cultural consciousness and conversations. They provide analogies and lessons that all can appreciate and use. With that said, we also recognize the explosion of books on all these about the Bible. Our bookstores have dedicated shelves to the Bible and to books about the Bible. On a regular basis I receive catalogs from various publishers promoting their latest and greatest theological books. However, I believe that in my community we can do better when it comes to using the available biblical resources. The basic Bible literacy of my community seems to be diminishing. Each successive generation is less familiar with the biblical stories that informed the generation before it. For this reason I believe we must consciously and intentionally build theological libraries in our homes and in our local churches.

How can we go about this? I’m not saying that we need to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to build libraries. Rather I’m proposing that we look at what biblical resources we have in our homes and churches already and then begin to expand them slowly, wisely, and carefully.

The benefits of building a theological library are obvious. The growth and maturity of Christians is the primary purpose. As students of the Bible we must be willing to read books and other material that does not always agree with our theological perspectives. Reading a book is having a conversation with the author. When we read we get on the side of the author and become the ideal reader, that is, the reader the author had in mind. Then we can begin to articulate where we agree and disagree with the author. We must learn to read better. We must learn to appreciate the work of many people both Christians and non-Christian who have written about the Bible since the first century. There are many things we need to learn. In the process we might be become capable of contributing to the on-going conversation about the Bible. We might find that we have particular talents, skills, and abilities that lend themselves to the disciplines of biblical studies.

My personal experience is an example of the benefits of having access to a theological library at home. My late father started a theological library years before I was born. As I grew up I began to take notice of the various resources he had stored up for his own private use and for ministry purposes. But I am certain he intended his sons to take advantage as well. And so I did. Watching my father study and prepare to teach and to preach had a lasting impact on my life, career, and ministry. I started a theological library as well. Today I have only a little over 2,000 books on various subjects across the biblical studies spectrum. As children we watch what our parents do. It informs us and gives us an example to follow. Likewise when our local churches as well as our parents build libraries we too will value books and will feel the need to build our own personal theological libraries.

What I’ve said is obvious. To add to this article I’ve include a short list of books that you can consider when building a theological library. The items have been graded according to reading level and experience in biblical studies: (B) Beginner (I) Intermediate (A) Advanced/Scholarly.

How to study the Bible

  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee (I)
  • How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee (I)
  • Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane and Dave Rolph (I)
  • How to Read the Bible: The Old and New Testaments by Charpentier (I)

Study Bibles & Parallel Bibles

  • The ESV Study Bible (B)
  • The Reformation Study Bible (ESV) (B)
  • Harper-Collins Study Bible (NRSV with Apocrypha) (I/A)
  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV with Apocrypha) (I/A)
  • The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (NRSV with Apocrypha) (I/A)
  • Essential Evangelical Parallel Bible by Kohlenberger (I)
  • The Comparative Study Bible by Zondervan (B)
  • Gospel Parallels, NRSV Edition by Throckmorton (B/I)
  • Synopsis of the Four Gospels: Greek-English Edition by Kurt Aland (A)

Hermeneutics and Exegesis

  • Biblical Exegesis by John Hayes and Carl Holladay (B)
  • NT Exegesis by Gordon Fee (B)
  • OT Exegesis by Douglas Stuart (B)
  • From Exegesis to Exposition by Robert Chisholm (B)
  • The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne (I)
  • Handbook of Bilbilcal Criticism by Soulen (I/A)
  • Interpreting the New Testament by Dockery & Black (I)
  • Interpreting the New Testament Text by Bock & Fanning (B/I)
  • Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by Beal and Carson (I/A)
  • Handbook for Personal Bible Study by Klein (B/I)
  • Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Klein (I)

Introductions to the Bible

  • Bible Reader’s Companion by L. Richards (B)
  • Talk thru the Bible by Wilkinson & Boa (B)
  • The Map: Making the Bible Meaningful, Accessible, Practical by Nick Page (B)
  • Encountering the OT by Arnold & Beyer (B)
  • A Guide through the OT by Sinclair (B)
  • The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction by Gottwald (A)
  • The Literary Guide to the Bible by Alter and Kermode (I)
  • An Introduction to the Old Testament by Dillard & Longman (I)
  • Introduction to the Old Testament by Alberto Soggin (A)
  • The Old Testament: An Introduction by Eissfeldt (A)
  • Encounter with the NT by Elwell and Yarbrough (B)
  • A Guide through the NT by Marshall (B)
  • An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond Brown (B/I)
  • An Introduction to the New Testament: Context, Methods and Ministry Formation by deSilva (I)
  • An Introduction to the New Testament by Carson & Moo (I)
  • New Testament Introduction by Donald Guthrie (A)
  • Complete Literary Guide to the Bible by Ryken and Longman (I)

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, & Atlases

  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Butler & Brand (B)
  • Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible by Freedman & Myers (B)
  • The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Unger & Harrison (B)
  • Dictionary of Biblical interpretation Dictionary by Coggins & Houlden (I)
  • Oxford Guide to the Bible by Bruce Metzger & Coogan (I)
  • Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (5 Vols.) by Tenney (I)
  • The Anchor Bible Dictionary (A)
  • Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels by McKnight & Marshall (I)
  • Dictionary of Paul and His Letters by Hawthrone, Martin, et al (I)
  • Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments by Martin, et al (I/A)
  • Dictionary of Biblical Imagery by Ryken (I)
  • New Bible Atlas by Bimson & Kane
  • Holman Bible Atlas by Brisco
  • Harper’s Atlas of the Bible by Pritchard
  • New Bible Atlas by John Bimson
  • The IVP Atlas of Bible History by Paul Lawrence

The Text of the Bible

  • Old Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction by Brotzman (B)
  • The Text of the Old Testament by Würthwein (I)
  • Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible by Emmanuel Tov (A)
  • New Testament Textual Critcism by D. Black (B)
  • The Text of the New Testament by Metzger (B/I)
  • A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Metzger (I/A)
  • The Text of the New Testament by Aland (I)
  • Textual Criticism of the Bible by Paul Wegner
  • Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible by Wegner (B)
  • How We Got the Bible by Arnold (B)
  • How We Got the Bible by Lightfoot (B)
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible by John Rogerson (I)
  • Who Wrote the Bible? by Friedman (A)
  • The OT Documents by Walter Kaiser (I)
  • The Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice by Barnstone (I/A)
  • The Word of God in English by LeLand Ryken (B)

Hebrew & Greek Bibles

  • Word Study Greek English NT by McReynolds (B)
  • Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament by Kohlenberger (B/I)
  • The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament by Tyndale (B/I)
  • Interlinear for the Rest of Us by Mounce (B/I)
  • Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia by American Bible Society (A)
  • UBS Greek New Testament by German Bible Society (A)

Grammars & Lexicons

  • Basics of Biblical Hebrew by Pratico and Van Pelt (B)
  • A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew by C. L. Seow (B)
  • Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Brown, F., S.R. Driver, & C.A. Briggs (A)
  • A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Holladay (I)
  • An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Waltke & O’Conner (A)
  • Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by Vine and Unger (B)
  • Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Thayer (B)
  • A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Bauer & Danker (B)
  • Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell & Scott (A)
  • Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar by William Mounce (B/I/A)
  • How Biblical Languages Work by Peter Silzer & Thomas Finley (B)
  • Moulton and Geden Concordance to the Greek New Testament by Marshall
  • Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by Mounce (I)
  • The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (3 Vols) by Brown

Bible Concordances

  • Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong (B)
  • The NIV Exhaustive Concordance by Goodrick &. Kohlenberger (I)
  • The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of Old Testament by Wigram (I/A)
  • Hebrew-English Concordance to Old Testament by Kohlenberger (I/A)
  • The Crossway Comprehensive Concordance of the Bible by Mounce (B)
  • The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of New Testament by Wigram (I/A)
  • Greek-English Concordance to the New Testament by Kohlenberger (I/A)
  • The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by Torrey

OT & NT History

  • The Story of the Old Testament by Alec Motyer (B)
  • The Story of the New Testament by Stott & Motyer (B)
  • A History of Israel by J. A. Bright (A)
  • A Biblical History of Israel by Phillips, Longman, and Long (I/A)
  • New Testament History by F. F. Bruce (B/I)
  • Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity by Barnett (I)

OT & NT Theology

  • Theological Interpretation of the OT by Kevin VanHoozer (B)
  • An Old Testament Theology by Waltke (I/A)
  • Old Testament Theology by Elmder Martens (I)
  • Theology of the Old Testament by Walter Brueggemann (I/A)
  • Theology of the Old Testament (2 Vols) by Walther Eichrodt (A)
  • Old Testament Theology (2 Vols) by Gerhard Von Rad (A)
  • Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos (I/A)
  • Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context by Brevard Childs (A)
  • Old Theology (3 Vols) by John Goldingay
  • Theological Interpretation of the NT by Kevin VanHoozer (B)
  • A Biblical Theology of the New Testament by Zuck (B)
  • A Theology of the New Testament by Ladd (I/A)
  • New Testament Theology by Jeremias (A)
  • A Concise New Testament Theology by Marshall (I)
  • New Testament Theology by Thielman (I)

OT & NT Background

  • Old Testament Times by Harrison (B)
  • IVP Handbook of Life in Bible Times by Thompson (B)
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary: OT by John Walton (B/I)
  • The World of the Bible by Roberta Harris (I/A)
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary: NT by Craig Keener (B/I)
  • Exploring the NT World by Albert Bell (B)
  • Backgrounds of Early Christianity by Everett Ferguson (I)
  • The New Testament World by Bruce Malina (I/A)
  • The New Testament in its Social Environment by Balch (I/A)
  • The World that shaped the New Testament by Roetzel (B/I)
  • The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era by Jeffers (I)
  • Dictionary of New Testament Background by Evans and Porter (I)
  • An Introduction to Early Judaism by VanderKam (I/A)
  • The New Testament and the People of God by N. T. Wright (A)
  • Exploring Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period by Helyer (I)
  • Invitation to the Septuagint by Jobes and Silva (I/A)
  • Josephus and the New Testament by Mason (I/A)
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls Today by James VanderKam (B/I)
  • A Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature by Joseph Fitzmeyer (A)
  • The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies by Frank Cross (A)

Methods of Biblical Criticism

  • Guides to Biblical Scholarship Series (I)
  • Literary Criticism of the OT by Habel
  • Form Criticism of the OT by Tucker
  • Tradition History and the OT by Rast
  • Textual Criticism of the OT by Klien
  • The Historical-Critical Method by Krentz
  • What is Social Scientific Criticism? by Elliott
  • The OT and the Archaeologist by Lance
  • Psychological Biblical Criticism by Kille
  • New Historicism (Piazza)
  • Rhetorical Criticism by Trible
  • Interpreting Hebrew Poetry by Peterson
  • Cultural Anthropology & the OT by Overholt
  • What is Narrative Criticism? by Powell
  • Literary Criticism of the NT by Beardslee
  • What is Form Criticism by McKnight
  • What is Redaction Criticism by Perrin
  • Letters in Primitive Christianity by Doty
  • What is Structural Exegesis by Patte
  • What is Narrative Criticism? by Powell
  • What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism by Adam
  • What is Social Scientific Criticism by Elliot
  • The NT Canon by Gamble
  • The Face of OT Study by Arnold (I)
  • The Face of NT Study by McKnight (I)
  • The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter (I)
  • The Literary Structure of the OT by Dorset (I)
  • The NT in its Literary Environment by Aune (B/I)
  • NT Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism by G. Kennedy (B/I)
  • Bible Archaeology: An Exploration of the History and Culture of Early Civilizations by McRay (B)

Bible Commentaries

  • The Eerdmens Bible Commentary (B)
  • Black’s New Testament Commentary (I)
  • The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (B)
  • Baker Exegetical Commentary on the Bible (B)
  • HaperCollins Bible Commentary by Mays (I)
  • The New Interpreter’s Bible OT Survey (I)
  • The New Interpreter’s Bible NT Survey (I)
  • New Jerome Bible Commentary by Brown, Roland, and Fitzmyer (A)
  • The JPS Torah Commentary Series (A)
  • Word Bible Commentaries (A)
  • Hermeneia by Fortress Press (A)
  • The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries (A)
  • The New Interpreter’s Bible (I/A)
  • International Critical Commentary (A)
  • The New International Critical Commentary (A)
  • New International Greek Testament Commentary (A)
  • Sacra Pagina (I)
  • Tyndale New Testament Commentary (B)
  • Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (I)
  • New Cambridge Bible Commentary (B)
  • Interpretation (I)

Extra-Biblical Literature

  • Old Testament Parallels by Matthews and Benjamin (B/I)
  • The Context of Scripture (3 Vols) by Hallo & Younger (A)
  • Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament with Supplement by James Pritchard (A)
  • Readings from the Ancient Near East: Primary Sources for Old Testament Study by Arnold and Beyer (A)
  • Pseudepigrapha by James Charlesworth (A)
  • The New Testament Background by Barrett (I)
  • Dead Sea Scrolls Bible by Haper SanFrancisco (A)
  • As the Romans Did by Shelton (A)
  • Cambridge Annotated Study Apocrypha (I)
  • Josephus: The Complete Works by Nelson Publishers (I)
  • The Works of Philo by Hendrickson Publishers (I)
  • The Talmud: Selected Writings by Paulist Press (A)
  • Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament by Boring, Bergerm & Colpe (A)
  • The Nag Hammadi Library by HarperCollins (A)
  • Apostolic Fathers in English by Michale Homes (I)

Scholarly Journals

  • Bibliotheca Sacra
  • Biblical Archaeology Review
  • Bible Review
  • Catholic Biblical Quarterly
  • Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
  • Journal of Biblical Literature
  • Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
  • Journal for the Study of the New Testament
  • Journal of Theological Studies
  • Near Eastern Archaeology (formerly Biblical Archaeologist)
  • New Testament Studies
  • Novum Testamentum
  • Review of Biblical Literature
  • Semeia
  • The Evangelical Quarterly
  • Trinity Journal
  • Westminster Theological Journal
  • Word and World

Systematic Theology

  • Collected Writings of John Murray: Lectures in Systematic Theology (multi-vols) (B/I)
  • Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion (3 Vols) (I/A)
  • Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (I)
  • Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhop (B)
  • Christian Theology by Millard Erickson (I)
  • Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie (B)
  • Lecture in Systematic Theology by Henry Thiessen (B)
  • Systematic Theology (multi-vols) by Norma Geisler (I/A)

Electronic resources

  • eSword (free, PC only) — www.e-sword.net
  • Logos Bible Software (PC & Mac, logos.com)
  • Accordance Bible Software (Mac only, www.accordancebible.com)
  • Bible Works (PC only, www.bibleworks.com)
  • BibleSoft (PC only, www.biblesoft.com)
  • QuickVerse (PC and Mac, www.quickverse.com)
  • Olive Tree Bible Software (www.olivetree.com)
  • MacSword (Mac only, www.macsword.com)
  • Zondervan Bible Software (PC and Mac, www.zondervan.com)
  • Gramcord (PC only, www.gramcord.org)
  • Internet resources
  • Bible Gateway (www.biblegateway.com)
  • OT Gateway (www.otgateway.com)
  • NT Gateway (www.netgateway.com)
  • Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)
  • Codex (biblical-studies.ca)
  • Biblical Studies (www.biblicalstudies.org.uk)
  • iTunes U (access through iTunes, download free software from Apple.com)
  • Questia (www.questia.com)
  • Google Scholar (www.scholar.google.com)
  • Hermeneutics (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hermeneutics/)
  • Biblioblogs.com
  • NT Pod (podcast)
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