October is Clergy Appreciation Month, and to celebrate, we’ve invited two pastors active in ministry to share what they really want this year. (Hint: it’s not cookies.)
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Ever since Paul asked Timothy to bring him “the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Tim. 4:13), pastors have loved books. And every good minister, like John Wesley, aspires to be “a man of one Book,” namely, the Bible. But because the Bible was written thousands of years ago in languages and cultures far removed from our own, being a man of the Book also entails the use of many other books that help us excavate the meaning and relevance of the ancient text for today.
I’m no exception and started building my theological library in my early twenties, several years before entering the pastorate. I knew that the ministry of the word would demand study and made it my ambition to build a library sufficient to the task. Books replaced clothes and electronics at the top of my wish lists for birthdays and Christmas, and over the years I’ve accumulated several thousand volumes. While I’ve never counted how many books I have from various publishers, I’m pretty sure I have more titles from Eerdmans than most other publishers.
I’ve got to admit that it feels a bit awkward to write up a wish list of what I’d like for Pastor Appreciation Month, especially since the church I pastor generously supplies me with an annual stipend for books. Nevertheless, since I was asked, here are my picks in three different categories: commentaries, theology, and worship/liturgy.
The First Letter to the Corinthians
Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner
The First Letter to the Corinthians by Roy Clampa and Brian Rosner is one of the most recent contributions to the theologically rich and pastorally sensitive Pillar New Testament Commentary Series. I’ve used the excellent commentaries from this series in my preparation for sermons series on the Gospel of Mark, Ephesians, the Letter of James, and more and wouldn’t want to venture into the complex issues of the First Corinthians without this highly praised commentary.
Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia
Allan D. Fitzgerald, editor
Augustine was the most important theologian after Paul in the first millennium of the church, whose writings continue to challenge theologians and stir ordinary Christians today. In the past couple of years I’ve reread Augustine’s Confessions, worked through the Enchiridion, his handbook on faith, hope, and love, and basked in Peter Brown’s excellent biography, Augustine of Hippo. The more I read of Augustine, the deeper I want to dig, and Augustine Through the Ages is the one volume that promises a full encyclopedic coverage of Augustine’s writings and world.
The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Volume 5: Moderatism, Pietism, and Awakening is the fifth volume of Hughes Oliphant Old’s magnum opus on the history of preaching in Christian worship, which was hailed by William Edgar as “the best history of preaching ever written.” I’ve been dipping into these volumes off and on for several years and have especially benefited from reading them during sabbaticals, while I’m away from the pulpit and engaged in fresh thinking for the coming year’s preaching calendar. This volume focuses on eighteenth century preaching including (but not limited to) John Wesley, George Whitefield, and the Evangelical Awakening, an era that lays close to my heart.
Finally, let me offer a suggestion for churches that would like to serve a new or younger pastor with what Spurgeon called “slender apparatus” (that is, a small library!). Consider furnishing your minister with not just one book or two, but with an entire set of commentaries. The New International Commentaries on the Old Testament (NICOT) and New Testament (NICNT) would be a worthy investment to any pastor’s library that will aid him for years to come.
Click to view our featured collection of books for pastors on Eerdmans.com, to read last year’s Clergy Appreciation Month posts from Pastor Kenneth Bomberger and Pastor David Drake, or to read Rachel Bomberger’s posts on The Pastor as Minor Poet and Two Old Books for New Pastors.