Michael Bird (@mbird12) is lecturer in Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. He is an Anglican priest and is the author of several books including Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction, Romans: The Story of God Bible Commentary, What Christians Ought To Believe, The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus, and An Anomalous Jew: Paul among Jews, Greeks, and Romans.
Bible Gateway asked him for the five books he would recommend to help people understand the Bible better. Here’s his reply.
Michael Bird: This is a hard task; so many good books out there; one’s I’ve learned from and benefited from. But, if I had to pick, I’d probably go with this fabulous five:
Jesus and the Victory of God by N.T. Wright
For me, reading this book was like leaving The Matrix. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of reading the Gospels, not just the hors d’oeuvres ahead of Paul. Instead, Jesus really is the reason why we have Christianity, and the historical Jesus is not a myth or chimera of history. As I tell my students: Paul rocks, but Jesus reigns. Read this book while wearing two pairs of socks, because the first pair will be blown off.
The Resurrection of the Son of God / Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
Personally I think Wright’s Resurrection of the Son of God is the best treatise on the resurrection in church history like ever (big claim I know), but for those who want something more digestible, readable, and practical, I recommend his Surprised by Hope. It is Wright’s bestselling book for a good reason. It’ll inoculate you against eschaton-weirdo-mania and yet show you the importance of kingdom, resurrection, and new creation!
The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight
Scot is a friend of mine and I reckon this book is Scot’s best and it will prove to be a classic. This book gives readers biblical precision and theological clarity about the gospel. There’s a difference between evangelical gospel presentations and the biblical gospel. You’ll learn how the gospel relates to the biblical storyline—no, you can’t jump from Genesis 3 to Matthew 1—and how the gospel is about Jesus as Messiah and Lord. Tolle lege!
Romans 1998 edition by Thomas R. Schreiner
Tom Schreiner is one of the best evangelical Pauline scholars there is, have been, and might yet be. Sensible exegete, sober theological comments, attention to detail, and easy to read. I love this commentary on Romans, by far the best in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) series, a robust and informative read. Seriously, students should build shrines to Tom Schreiner for his ability to explain complex exegetical debates. But Tom has sadly changed his mind on all the stuff I liked about this 1998 edition and his 2018 revision will espouse different reviews on the “righteousness of God” and the “wretched man”—et tu Tom? So, for the love of Martha, buy a copy of the 1998 edition before it goes out of print! Then buy the 2018 revision so you’ll appreciate how good the 1998 edition one is!
The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations by Michael Holmes
The apostolic fathers are the sequel to the New Testament, best translation to read them in my opinion is Mike Holmes’s. But make sure you order the right one, the third edition, Greek and English. And while you’re at it, read more primary sources, like Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Apocrypha, Philo, and Greco-Roman classics.
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