Several bibliobloggers are making all different sorts of top-ten lists of books. I think Scot McKnight started the trend, and I think Stephen C. Carlson has had the best general statement to date. I won't link to others here; they're easy enough to find right now. Just go to the NT Gateway Weblog and do the clickie-clickie dance in the sidebar blogroll, and you'll find some lists.
I wanted to make a truly useful list, not some list attempting to reflect the form of platonic perfection in a particular area of theology or Biblical studies. And I've started a lot of books I need to finish, so what list could be better?
That said, here's my list. These are in no particular order.
- Arthur Vööbus, Early Versions of the New Testament: Manuscript Studies. Status: over halfway.
- Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament: Their Origin, Transmission and Limitations. Status: not started.
- C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia.* Status: 3/7 of the way done.
- Stanley Porter, Studies in the Greek New Testament. Status: nearly complete.
- N.T. Wright, The Resurrection and the Son of God. Status: not started.
- George W. Knight III, The Faithful Sayings in the Pastoral Letters. Status: over halfway.
- J.M. Holmes, Text in a Whirlwind: A Critique of Four Exegetical Devices at 1 Timothy 2.9-15. Status: over halfway.
- Ray Van Neste, Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles. Status: over halfway.
- Perry L. Stepp, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle. Status: over halfway.
- Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion (Battles translation). Status: halfway.
Pretty sad, huh? Looks like I can only get halfway through a book before I get interested in a new one. The sad part? I have two books I really want to put on this list, but don't for fear that then I'll think that means I really can start them (and I've actually started one of them ... shhhh! don't tell anyone!)
I'm close to finishing Vööbus and then I can put early versions to rest for a bit before I start Meztger. I'm not worried about Calvin; that's been on the back burner for the past two years; a guy can only chew on so much. N.T Wright -- well, I don't think I like where he's going in his magnum opus, so I'm not too encouraged to get back into it. That one can sit. Narnia will happen, it is good in-between reading.
Van Neste, Stepp and Holmes are the ones I'm worried about. I burned through the first half of each of them easily, but they've since moved off of my radar. I need to get back into them before I start the mystery book mentioned above (that I've already started, but remember, don't tell anyone). But the mystery book is so cool! I'll blog about that one for sure once I get through it!
Note: Aquinas is nowhere on my list.
Update (2005-08-10): Thanks to all the folks who have commented. A few notes:
Jim -- Thanks for the OK to pass on Wright for now. But that book is just staring at me, and I'm through two of the three published volumes, and feel like I should dig in and wrap it up. Still, I think I'll pass for now.
Brandon -- You speak much wisdom.
Murray -- Narina is before Aquinas because I want to read Narnia. Aquinas is something I should read, but am not motivated to. Hence, it is lower on the list. Plain and simple.
Loren -- The part I enjoy from Wright is his use of Pseudepigrapha and Dead Sea Scroll material to fill in some holes, though it largely has the effect of displaying my own gaps of knowledge in these areas. I typically have to read books like Wright's a few times before I really "get" what is being said, and I've only read the first two books once. And the series is a projected five books (right?) so I'm not even halfway into it. Which is why I want to withold judgement, for now. That said -- and I don't have any examples to hand -- there have been times when I've read a section and "done the math" predicting what certain statements might mean (either in the area of eschatology, or in the deity of Christ, or some other something) and not really liked the extrapolation. To be fair, though, such things are extrapolations and very well may not be the view Wright is promoting. Which means I need to read it and understand it. Which is why it is on my list. But it still gives me the heebie-jeebies sometimes.
* Yes, I'm counting the Chronicles of Narnia as one book, not seven. I'm just about to start the fourth book (in order of release), The Silver Chair.