As I reflect on my time at DTS, the following five books (in no particular order – ranking them would have been too difficult!) have played the largest role in shaping my thinking over the last four years. This list reflects my own idiosyncratic interests, and not all these books were required for DTS classes, but I do recommend them to all incoming/current seminary students.
Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans, 2006) – It feels a bit eclectic at times, and features no shortage of controversial elements, but Bauckham has a knack for asking and answering good questions, for picking up on key clues embedded in the texts. The chapters on Papias have been particularly helpful for me, but the entire book is worth reading.
Markus Bockmuehl, Seeing the Word: Refocusing New Testament Study (Baker Academic, 2006) – What is the “goal” of NT studies? Where is the discipline going in the coming years? Where should it be going? As a beginning doctoral student, a macro-level view of the field has proved invaluable. Bockmuehl’s book is largely responsible for introducing me to the concept of Wirkungsgeschichte and its relevance for both Church and Academy.
James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered (Eerdmans, 2003) – Dunn dismantles the “assured results” of Synoptic criticism and proposes a new model for studying Jesus that takes seriously the oral nature of the early tradition. Dunn’s evaluative summary of previous historical Jesus study is clear and compelling. If I were to recommend one book on the historical Jesus, this would be it.
Margaret A. Mitchell, Paul, the Corinthians and the Birth of Christian Hermeneutics (OUP, 2010) – I’m very interested in bridging NT studies with patristics, and Mitchell’s work is an excellent example of just that. Mitchell’s description of an “agonistic” hermeneutic, with its roots in Paul’s own letters, demonstrates the history and necessity of both literal and figurative interpretations of Scripture.
N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Fortress, 1992) – More or less the subject of my master’s thesis, this book (despite its title) is almost entirely about hermeneutics, historical method, and the worldview(s) of Second Temple Jews. Though not always the easiest read, Wright’s work has nevertheless introduced me to critical realism and worldview analysis as essentials for good historical work. See my thesis for evaluative comments.