Friday, July 10, 2009

New Testament Resources I Use in Preaching About the Real Jesus

(Last evening's Lake Michigan sunset, St. Joseph, Michigan)

I shared with my friend Keith Cerk, who is a pastor in Waukegan, Illinois, that for 4 years now I've been preaching chronologically through the 4 Gospels on the Real Jesus. Keith asked me what commentaries and study helps I use. I thought I'd post them here.

Craig Keener, A Commentary On the Gospel of Matthew
N.T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone

R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark
N.T. Wright, Mark for Everyone
Ben Witherington, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

Joel Green, The Gospel of Luke
N.T. Wright, Luke for Everyone
Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke

Craig Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary
Andreas Kostenberger, John
N.T. Wright, John for Everyone (2 volumes)

In general, the New Testament scholars I now look to, broadly, include: Greg Boyd, Scot McKnight, Craig Blomberg, Craig Keener, N.T. Wright, Craig Evans, R.T. France, Richard Bauckham, and Ben Witherington. Witherington has an excellent website where he makes scholarly book-length posts regularly. One wonders if he has a life outside of blogging. I just purchased Ben's book on the Lord's Table, to be used when I get to that part of the Jesus story. (Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord's Supper) Wright's growing, huge contribution to NT studies is invaluable. I use Blomberg's Jesus and the Gospels, finding it very helpful for background information. I use Craig Keener's excellent IVP Bible Background Commentary. Craig personally recommended Michael McClymond's Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, and Greg Boyd's Cynic Sage Or Son Of God? I very much like Boyd's The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition, and this book's min-version Lord or Legend?: Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma. I'll be looking closely at Wright's massive The Resurrection of the Son of God as I approach the end of my Real Jesus preaching. I very much like Craig Evans's Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. I especially enjoyed Evans's chapter on signs and wonders. Recently I read the collaborative effort of Evans and Wright entitled Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened. McKnight's The Jesus Creed is a good read. Occasionally I check out McKnight the uber-blogger's website here. For example, McKnight had a very thorough series of posts on the Kingdom of God in the Gospels some time ago. Eugene Peterson's The Jesus Way is cool. Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony is must reading. As is his Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament's Christology of Divine Identity. Lastly, I find Lee Strobel's The Case For the Real Jesus excellent.

Since the role of temple worship plays such a central part in the Jesus story I find the following books helpful as providing background: James K. Hoffmeier's The Archaeology of the Bible, and Hershel Shanks's Jerusalem's Temple Mount.

Finally, read the original documents, over and over and over again. Get them inside of you. Pray them. Ponder. Listen to Jesus as He was heard in the first century. To read the 4 Gospels without chapter headings and verses (yeah!!!), try this version, called The Books of the Bible, from The International Bible Society.