Know someone who is theologically curious—someone who wants to dive deeper into the Old Testament … an atheist or agnostic person who is considering giving God another chance … someone who is interested in expanding their theological knowledge … ?

This post briefly describes 9 books that would make a great last-minute Christmas purchase for them.  (no, I don’t receive any money if you buy one ….)

A great gift for someone who …


(1)  … would like to study the Old Testament in greater depth:

The Jewish Study Bible 2d ed. (University Press 2014).

This Bible contains the Old Testament books with well-organized and clear commentary.  It also includes multiple articles of interest to those who want to know more about the Old Testament and the historical and religious context of Old Testament times.  This was one of our two main books for our Old Testament class at Wake Forest Divinity School.  I recommend the hard-cover version.

(2)  … is an atheist or atheist-leaning agnostic and wants to give God another chance:

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

The author of the Chronicles of Narnia and Oxford and Cambridge professor C.S. Lewis helps us understand why he went from being an atheist to a Christian.

(3)  … wants a Study Bible that does not present just one side of an issue:

The HarperCollins Study Bible, Revised Edition, edited by Harold W. Attridge (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2006).

I think this is the best Bible on the market for those who want to dive deeper into scripture.  We used it in our New Testament Interpretation class at Wake Forest Divinity School.  It is the one I rely on most when reading scripture generally now.

(4)  … wants a reliable description of the Islam religion:

A New Introduction to Islam, 3rd Ed. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017) by Daniel W. Brown. 

There is a ton of misleading and erroneous information on Islam out there.  This textbook is reliable and is used at Wake Forest and elsewhere.

(5)  … is interested in the intersection of Christianity and Science:

Dictionary of Christianity and Science: The Definitive Reference for the Intersection of Christian Faith and Contemporary Science (2017).

This book was just published this year.  It contains hundreds of short, clear articles on the basics of the major topics at the intersection of science and religion.  I bought it about a month ago and am enjoying reading it.

(6)  … is interested in the history behind the New Testament books or interested in how religion is taught to undergraduates these days:

The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 6th Edition by Bart D. Ehrman.

Dr. Ehrman is a well-known religion professor at UNC Chapel Hill and an excellent writer.  He is a former Christian, now agnostic, and his book is used in many undergraduate classes on the Bible and the New Testament.  I read this book before going to divinity school and found it to be helpful historical background.

(7)   … would like to know what some of the greatest theological thinkers said over the centuries:

The Christian Theology Reader, 4th ed. (John Wiley & Sons, 2011) by Alister E. McGrath.

This book includes dozens of short, clear articles and excerpts on and from top theological thinkers over the centuries on a wide variety of theological topics.  The articles are organized by topic and are usually accompanied by a short introduction.  We read many articles from this book in this semester’s theology class at Wake Forest Divinity School.

(8)  … would like to be challenged on how they read the Bible:

The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It (2014) by Peter Enns.

A professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University with a PhD from Harvard provides a plain-language discussion on how to approach reading the Bible to get the most out of it.  I bought this book recently and have just started it.  I don’t know how it ends, but it seems like it is going to be good.

(9)  …  would enjoy an easy-to-read overview of multiple theological topics from a Christian perspective—

Theology:  The Basics, 4th ed. (West Sussex, UK:  Wiley-Blackwell, 2017) by Alister E. McGrath.

This book gives a clear and concise description of the major views regarding a variety of theological topics, including creation, Jesus, salvation, atonement, and heaven.  McGrath is an excellent writer.  We used this book in our theology class at Wake Divinity this semester.









(The picture is one I took last month of some theological books.)