Inspired by a recent post by Chris Tilling on ’20 enjoyable books to read’, I thought another approach would be naming the scholars who have been most influential to me (and which books are especially good). This is not an exhaustive list nor is it in any special order.
Let’s start with the Durham posse
1. James D.G. Dunn – why? The New Perspective, of course! But, also his work on the Holy Spirit. In terms of commentaries, his Romans (WBC) is fantastic, but I am also very pleased with his Galatians (BNTC) and Colossians (NIGTC). Where to start? His new The New Perspective on Paul (Eerdmans 2008). Also, I will never be the same after reading his ‘Paul’s Understanding of the Death of Jesus’ in the FS for Leon Morris entitled Reconcilation and Hope (1974).
2. John M.G. Barclay – why? Amazing work on ethics in Galatians with insight into the flesh/spirit dichotomy. Also, his Jews in the Med. Diaspora is quite good. Where to begin? Probably with his Obeying the Truth (published thesis on Galatians). Some of his articles/essays are really excellent – check out the interesting interaction and critique of the New Perspective in ‘Neither Jew nor Greek: Multiculturalism and the New Perspective on Paul’ in Ethnicity in the Bible (1996).
3. Stephen Barton – why? He has done some influential work on the use of social-sciences and NT theology. Check out especially his Life Together: Family, Sexuality and Community in the New Testament and Today. He has also written on ethics and NT- good stuff (he is also my primary supervisor). For Gospels, he edited the Cambridge Companion to the Gospels and has written a nice little book The Spirituality of the Gospels.
4. Francis Watson – why? He has done some interesting work on theological hermeneutics, sociological aspects in Paul, ethics, and more. The recent revision of his thesis is fantastic, though he goes down some very unusual roads sometimes with his interpretation. Overall, though, his argument is cogent. Check out Eerdman’s Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective. In person and in this book he convinced me that pistis christou should be read as an objective genitive rather than a subject (whereas I previously leaned towards Hays).
[NOTE: I had originally forgotton Tom Wright - my apologies to the bishop. Add him in here, and I would recommend (1) his Colossians commentary (Tyndale) and his Romans commentary (New Interpreters) and (2) his little book called What Saint Paul Really Said. Also, the New Testament and the People of God is really good for background-y kinds of research in early Judaism; that makes more than 20 scholars, so I guess my list is a bit bloated now!]
Now on to the other Durham
5. Richard Hays – why? Do I really need to answer this? His work on intertextuality, ethics, and community, of course! Where to begin? Tough one. I would say Conversion of the Imagination and/or Moral Vision of the NT.
The next few have influenced me just through good old-fashioned solid exegesis and clear and reasonable commentary writing
6. Ben Witherington III – check out his Conflict and COmmunity in Corinth. Also, in terms of introductory materials, he is almost unmatched in terms of accessible history of scholarship in both The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest. Also, his NEw Testament History is a fun read and great to use as a textbook for NT intro.
7. Gordon D. Fee – why? Certainly his research on the Spirit, but also see his excellent commentaries on Philippians (NICNT), 1 Corinthians (NICNT), as well as newer work on Galatians. Where to begin? Try his Paul, the Spirit and the People of God. If you are up to the challenge, try his new Pauline Christology – it will probably earn the title ‘magisterial’.
8. I.H. Marshall – why? Good solid scholarship from an evangelical perspective. Where to begin? Try his New Testament Theology. Check out, also, his Beyond the Bible. Did you know he is working on a Romans commentary for the Two Horizons? As a fellow Arminian/Methodist, I am interested in his perspective on Romans. Also see his new Aspects of the Atonement (Paternoster).
Other scholars who have influenced me in smaller ways
9. Markus Bockmuehl – good, critical, but reasonable scholarship. His Philippians commentary (BNTC) is one of the best. Though I read it just recently, his Seeing the Word (about the past and future of NT scholarship) was really impacting. Check out also his work as editor and contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Jesus (he writes on Resurrection).
10. Richard Bauckham – Though his work has been largely in Revelation and the Gospels (especially John), I was very impressed with his work on Christology in God Crucified – a must-read! Also his Theology of the Book of Revelation is the best short intro to that mysterious and fascinating NT text.
11. Beverly Gaventa – her commentary work (on 1-2 Thessalonians, and also on Galatians) is commendable. I would read her Our Mother Saint Paul. She is good on Paul and Apocalyptic.
12. Joel B. Green – excellent work on narrative theology; also his new commentary on 1 Peter is very engaging, eloquent, and takes the discussion beyond stagnant controversies of the past.
13. David Horrell – His work on social aspects in Corinth is commendable. But, his work on ethics in really impressive – check out his Solidarity and Difference. He is now working in 1 Peter. I am going to review a new introductory guide to 1 Peter – more to come.
14. Jerome Neyrey – A member of the context group that I admire greatly. His work in honor and shame (especially in Matthew) was very formative for me. ALso, a really nice chap.
15. David deSilva – also has done work on social-sciences. Check out his Hope of Glory and Honor, Kinship & Purity. Also a good exegete with invaluable work on Hebrews. His NT Intro textbook is absolutely the best out there. I would use it in a heartbeat.
16. Stanley Hauerwas – You must read the Hauerwas Reader.
17. Craig Keener – why? Especially good on how and why to use ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman sources. Also very enlightening on the issue of women in ministry.
18. Richard Longenecker – need I justify? His Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period is a classic; his commentary on Galatians (WBC) is always worthy of consideration in exegesis. He is currently working on a multi-volume commentary on Romans. I have interacted with him a bit. Nice chap.
19. Michael Gorman – He is not a prolific author, but his works thus far have been weighty. Where to start? Cruciformity, though his textbook on Paul is the best thing out there for an intro to Paul’s theology.
20. Oh, where to end? I guess I will cheat and call it a tie among Stanley Porter (I suspect his new commentary on Romans [Sheffield Phoenix] will be excellent), Craig Evans (his research guide to Ancient Texts of the New Testament is invaluable), Greg Beale (with his work on the book of Revelation and intertextuality; his short commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians is quite good), and Stephen Fowl (try his commentary on Philippians).
It would be fun to hear from other bloggers (on their own websites and/or in the comments below) regarding their favs.