Recommended Books

Study Bibles:

*The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) has been updated to the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (NRSVue). I like the updates. (E.g. the change from “wise men” to “magi.) But I don’t yet have a recommendation for a hard copy.

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha.This is the premier study Bible. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is the translation that was sponsored by the National Council of Churches, of which the United Methodist Church is a part. It is arguably the best literal translation available. (ISBN-10: 0-687-27832-5)

If you’re interested in a simpler translation you might consider The Common English Study Bible. The Common English Bible (CEB) is an excellent translation that keeps things as simple as possible. (ISBN-13: 978-1609260286)

The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha.This is the same translation as The New Interpreter’s Study Bible, with notes by different authors. I like the layout and notes of The New Interpreter’s Study Bible better. (ISBN-10: 0-19-528478-X)

Other Recommended Books:

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, liked to say that he was a man of one book (meaning the Bible). He was, however, the author of many and reader of countless more. United Methodists have always had great respect for learning. Below are a few of my recommendations.

Please note that the recommendation of a book is not meant to imply that I agree with every part of it. If I only recommended books that I completely agreed with, my list of recommended books would be very short indeed.

Bible Study Aids:

The Oxford Bible Commentary edited by John Barton and John Muddiman. I’ve found this to be an excellent one-volume Bible Commentary. It has become my source of first resort. (ISBN-10: 0199277184, ISBN-13: 978-0199277186)

The HarperCollins Bible Commentary, Revised Edition, James L. Mays, General Editor. This is another good one-volume Bible Commentary. (ISBN-10: 0060655488, ISBN-13: 978-0060655488)

The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, Paul J. Achtemeier, General Editor. This is the companion volume to The HarperCollins Bible Commentary. It is an invaluable resource for looking up people, places, and things.

Wesleyan and United Methodist Theology:

John Wesley: Optimist of Grace by Henry H. Knight III. This is a great (and short) introduction to the founder of Methodism. Hal was one of John and Jenny’s favorite instructors at Saint Paul School of Theology. (ISBN-13: 978-1-62564-838-9)

Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology by Randy L. Maddox. In John’s opinion this is the premier book on the theology of John Wesley. Maddox does a wonderful job of guiding the reader through the thought of this complicated 18th century pastor, preacher, theologian and founder of Methodism. (ISBN-10: 0-687-00334-2)

The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology Today by Theodore Runyon. This is another great book on Wesleyan Theology. (ISBN-13: 978-0687096022)

Eight Life-Enriching Practices of United Methodists by Henry H. Knight III. This is a great introduction to the Wesleyan means of grace. This is a highly approachable book and has been a favorite during past book studies. (ISBN-13: 978-0687087341)


Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense by N. T. Wright. This book attempts to do what its title implies lay out an explanation of the general Christian faith held by the church universal through time and space. It reminds me of an updated version of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. (ISBN-13: 978-0-06-050715-2)

Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alister E. McGrath. This book is a great introduction to the broad tradition of Christian Theology with due attention paid to the importance of orthodoxy. John’s read this book twice in both the first and second editions. The edition now available is the fourth. (ISBN-13: 978-1405153607)

Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King by Matthew W. Bates. This is the book that finally allowed me to articulate what faith in Jesus Christ means to me. (ISBN-13: 978-0801097973)

Evil and the Justice of God by N. T. Wright. The problem of evil is one of the perennial difficulties of Christian theology. Wright asserts that the Bible is less concerned about “solving” the problem of evil than with telling us what God is going to address it. This book was featured in John’s sermon on May 25, 2008. (ISBN-13: 978-0-8308-3398-6)

To Love as God Loves by Roberta Bondi. Loving God and our neighbor, is the greatest commandment, but it is so hard to do. Roberta Bondi draws on biblical wisdom and the experience of the early church to lay out practical guidelines for growing in Christian love. (ISBN-10: 0-8006-2041-0)

Church History:

The Story of Christianity: A History of 2,000 years of the Christian Faith by David Bentley Hart. A very short and readable work. (ISBN-13: 978-1780877525)

American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists by John Wigger. Francis Asbury shaped both the history American Methodism and American history as a whole. This is an excellent biography. (ISBN-13: 978-0195387803)