As I’ve been preparing to apply for PhD programs, I’ve been thinking about those books and scholars who have most influenced the way I read scripture, and I’m curious which books have done the same for my fellow bibliobloggers. So, since I’ve always wanted to start a meme challenge of my own, here goes:
- Name the five books (or scholars) that had the most immediate and lasting influence on how you read the Bible. Note that these need not be your five favorite books, or even the five with which you most strongly agree. Instead, I want to know what five books have permanently changed the way you think.
- Tag five others.
Here are mine (in chronological order):
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I know this is an odd way to start, but this story of hope and sacrifice, which treats scripture not as a repository of facts but as a story to live into has profoundly influenced my thinking ever since.
- Paul and Palestinian Judaism by E.P. Sanders. My first introduction both to the New Perspective on Paul, and to a charitable reading of Judaism, I don’t entirely buy his interpretation of either, but I’ve never seen them the same.
- The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter. Simply brilliant introduction to reading the Bible as literature. My first experience of it was heightened by the unintentionally humorous notes some fundamentalist had left in the margins.
- The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem by Margaret Barker. The book that ignited my love for the mythology and symbolism of the Temple. It’s about as speculative as scholarly writing gets, but draws fascinating connections all over the place.
- Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible and The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity by Jon D. Levenson. I couldn’t decide–just read them!
UPDATE: I’ve gathered a (full?) list of responses here. Thanks everyone!