John Dickson‘s (PhD, Ancient History) (@johnpauldickson) story is eclectic. Starting out as a professional singer-songwriter, he now works as an author, speaker, historian, senior pastor, and media presenter. He has published 15 books—including A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus, A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments, A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible, Hearing Her Voice, and Humilitas—two of which have become television documentaries, with a third, For the Love of God: How the Church is Better and Worse Than you Ever Imagined, released in Australian cinemas in June 2018. He teaches a course on the Historical Jesus at the University of Sydney, Australia, and researches the origins of Christianity in the Roman empire. For 2017-19 he is also a Visiting Academic in the Faculty of Classics at Oxford University in the UK. In all that he does, whether in the media or the church, creative or academic, he strives to be a public advocate for the Christian faith in secularizing times. Having lost his father in an air disaster at age nine, John is mindful of the sorrows and doubts of our world, and values his wife and three children above all other gifts of this life.
Bible Gateway asked him for the five books he would recommend to learn why reading the Bible is important. Here’s his reply (adding two Bibles to the list).
NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible edited by Don Carson
This may sound like a strange choice, but I think all good apologetics and evangelism must begin with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures themselves. This book is like a theological degree crammed into a bound Bible.
God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Story-line of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts
Here is a very straightforward account of how the entire Bible hangs together, along with a trustworthy introduction to ‘hermeneutics’ or how we interpret the different parts of the Bible.
The Goldsworthy Trilogy: Gospel & Kingdom, Gospel & Wisdom, Gospel in Revelation by Graeme Goldsworthy
Goldsworthy is often credited with inspiring a whole generation of evangelicals to do ‘biblical theology’, that is, to read the Bible as a whole with an eye to its unfolding message of Creation to New Creation made possible through Jesus Christ.
Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity by Brian S. Rosner
This is a remarkable example of how to do careful ‘biblical theology’—tracing a theme through the unfolding story of Scripture—while simultaneously shedding light on, and critiquing, a major topic of discussion in mainstream culture. Theology, exegesis, and cultural apologetics come together to provide an inspiring vision of our true ‘identity’ as human beings, made and restored in God’s image.
ESV Archaeology Study Bible edited by David Chapman
Archaeology can seem like one of those scary and unruly topics. Hardly a year goes by without some sensationalist TV documentary claiming that a new discovery challenges the message of the Bible. Here’s the antidote: a measured and reliable guide to what archaeology does and doesn’t imply about the Bible.
The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton
Written by a top tier scholar from Cambridge University, this classic work provides a simple introduction to mainstream thinking about the historical Jesus and the Gospels. It’s not written from an evangelical perspective, but its conclusions are friendly to a traditional reading of the Lord’s life, death, and resurrection. It’s a trustworthy alternative—without intending to be apologetics—to the skeptical nonsense we often hear about Jesus from some quarters.
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