Six Academic Journals That Pastors Should Be Reading

There are lots of good journals out there for Biblical Studies with insightful technical discussions of Greek exegetical issues, new methods of interpretation, textual criticism, hermeneutical discussions, and much more. However, I was having a conversation the other day with a busy pastor (who has a Th.M.) and I could hardly expect him to sit down at the nearest theological library, put his feet up, and dig into Novum Testamentum or Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha. 

My guess is that people like him, when they get time, browse through Books & Culture, Christianity Today, and some of the latest blog posts. They, like me, also find plenty of thought-provoking things through and on Facebook.

But what should a pastor do if he or she wants to do some academic journal reading, but desires to engage in material that is a bit closer to the level of what they are dealing with day to day theologically and hermeneutically in their ministry? Are there academic journals that are “lighter” and a bit broader and more interesting and directly useful for pastors?

I am sure there are loads of such, and some good preaching journals in addition, but here is my list for pastors regarding Biblical Studies journals.

What would you add on a list of journals to aid pastors?

[Keep in mind, I would love if they read JBL, JSNT, NovT, NTS, etc…, but I just don’t see it happening.]

1. Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology  – each issue is thematic (sometimes Biblical books, sometimes themes) and a host of Biblical scholars, theologians, and pastors are invited to give insight on the same topic from multiple angles. The material is kept pretty non-technical, so those readers without Greek and Hebrew won’t feel completely lost. Also, the reviews tend to focus on important books in Biblical studies and theology.

2. Word & World  – Very similar to Interpretation, this journal is also thematic per issue. They have issues on “Canon,” “Biblical Interpretation in Christian Ministry,” and “Economics and Justice,” for example. Added bonus: They offer their article for free on their website. The latest issue is on “Exodus” and includes, for instance, an article called “What Every Christian Should Know About Exodus” (James Bruckner).

3. Review & Expositor – Again, a thematic journal which has had an outstanding history of important topics and articles. The most recent issue is on the theme of “Prophetic Preaching.”

4. Expository Times – Expository Times has existed since 1889. It is a nice cross between a magazine and an academic journal. Articles are intentionally short and the journal tends to include loads of short reviews on a variety of new books (in Bible, theology, culture, history, etc…). Added bonus: it’s published every month.

5. Currents in Biblical Research – I have published a couple of times with Currents and I enjoy the fact that they aim to keep readers abreast of what is going on in Biblical scholarship. I think pastors who regularly read this journal will avoid many pitfalls by keeping up-to-date on these issues.

[UPDATE: The original post said “Five journals,” but I had forgotten about a very important one that I am now including as #6]

6. Ex Auditu – This journal derives from a symposium held yearly at North Park Theological Seminary. The conversations and ideas that come out of this forum are often extremely fruitful.

Honorable Mention

Themelios – this journal is written for students in particular and has a lot of book reviews. And it is free!

Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care – There are some good articles in this newer journal. They have a few freebie essays including one by Darrell Bock entitled, “Embracing Jesus in a First Century Context: What Can It Teach Us About Spiritual Commitment.” My only qualm is that the title of the journal did not need to include “Soul Care.” Soul Care” sounds faddish and ambiguous. In any case, its a journal worth checking out. [UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention by the editor that they have made the 2010 issue dedicated to the work of Dallas Willard available for free online in memory of his scholarship and life: See here]

The Other Journal- a journal of theology and culture that is fun, relevant, well-produced, and FREE!

Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters – OK, shameless plug and it is an “academic” journal, but as co-editor (with Mike Bird), I can tell you that we do everything we can to plan issues that are interesting and relevant to “big issues” in Paul. For example, in the next issue, we are planning to have a few focused articles on “Paul and the Law.”

Priscilla Papers – This journal is dedicated to the study of gender and biblical equality in Scripture, with a special interest in supporting women in ministry.

McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry –  Not published often, but includes some good essays and reviews.

Currents in Theology and Mission –  Great thematic issues.

Denver Seminary Journal – mostly reviews, but updates yearly a best-of-the-best bibliography for both OT and NT study.

7 thoughts on “Six Academic Journals That Pastors Should Be Reading

  1. I am the managing editor of the Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. I agree: it’s a great journal! Thanks for the recommendation. I didn’t like the addition of “soul care” to the title either (but not because it’s faddish or ambiguous–I thought it was redundant), but the argument for the addition of “soul care” is that it signals that the journal is concerned not simply with theory/theology of formation but also practice: how do we care for one another’s spiritual formation? I thought I’d also mention that as a way to honor the memory of Dallas Willard, the whole special issue of the journal dedicated to his work is available digitally free of charge:

  2. Much I agree with but am surprised that Interpretation is included. I have received it for over 20 years and the quality has declined significantly in recent years. I cannot begin to list the problematic articles and issues that have been included, but as a Pastor, this is no longer helpful. Others I would include are Crux, from Regent College, Logia (Lutheran, but most helpful), First Things. If you are going to include Review and Expositor why not Southern Baptist Journal of Theology? As a Pastor I am also helped immensely by Journal of Theological Interpretation and Pro Ecclesia. Thanks for the work you do.

    1. Thanks Raymond. I suppose everyone has their favorites. I have never read SBJT, so it didn’t make my list for that reason. As far as Interpretation, I disagree that the quality has dropped. They had recent issues on Acts and Matthew that I found very insightful. Also, again, the reviews tend to be on books relevant to pastors and written by reviewers who want to express the importance of the book in view of broader issues. As a reviewer for Interp, that’s my take, at least.

      I like Crux, but, to be honest, I have not read much of it. I have not heard of Logia.

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