The Recommended Reading page is a place where the disciples of the church can make a few recommendations for those looking to go deeper.

Bibles

What can we say? Every follower of Jesus should be able to read what he said and still says through the Bible. Here are three good ones to get started.

The New Revised Standard Version is the one we use in worship every Sunday.

The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible NRSV is one of the best on the market. I highly suggest you stick with the newest version (Fourth Edition) as they have overhauled the notes and introductions and greatly improved readability. Other study Bibles that are also good include the New Interpreter’s Study Bible and the HarperCollins. The strength of these is in the introductions and notes. If you are looking for an “only” Bible that will answer your questions about who and what and the text of the Bible, these are the place to start. They can be overwhelming at first because there is just so much information.

The Life with God Bible NRSV from the Renovare Group is an excellent Bible for those more interested in how to live the text or who need help in applying what you are reading to everyday life. I am currently using this one as I read through the Bible this year with others and find it immensely insightful. The Renovare folks were founded around the work of Richard Foster and Dallas Willard (and others) who are doing great work in formation around following Christ in an open and deep way.

 

The God’s Word Translation is the other option that I use when I am reading large portions of the Bible.  It is easy to read, well formatted, and accurate.  It is the one I check first against others.  It comes in several cheap and ugly versions and a couple of pastel colors.  It is a little harder to find, but it is a great first Bible, gift Bible, and resource for getting started if you are daunted by the Bible.

 

Authors

N. T. Wright is one of my favorite authors currently.  He is one of the few biblical theologians that I get excited when a new book comes out.  Chances are I am carrying around one of his books while you are reading this.  I highly suggest starting with Surprised by Hope which marks a turn to a larger cosmology of the Christian life that is immanently biblical and life giving.  His After You Believe about developing virtue as a Christian is wonderful, though a little harder to get into. His newest series Simply Jesus and How God became King are both very good overviews and synopsis of his larger work.  He is very prolific.  So there is no shortage of his offerings to be had. These serve as a good starting point without having to argue with Greek.  If you are coming from an intellectual evangelical background I would add Justification to the list.  It is his side of an argument with John Piper about how we are saved and what that means for us.  It may not tickle everyone, but if you grew up with those arguments about Paul, you will find a deep well here to drink from.

Mark Jarman is a contemporary American poet who may be the best voice in theology and lived faith in a generation.  I think the church that misses the work of poetry of such profound faith is impoverished by narrowness of soul.  His Questions for Ecclesiastes and Unholy Sonnets are accessible and devastating poetic works that should be along side your C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, Karl Rahner and Thomas Merton.  I would comment poetry in general, but quickly I would add T. S. Eliot and Li-Young Lee to the list of Christian poets you should have.

Thomas Merton, of course, is practically required reading for the American Christian who wants more than Sunday School or Catechism offered in the last sixty years.  I would offer to start with Life and Holiness or The Inner Experience,  but others would suggest otherwise.

Henri Nouwen is second only to Merton for many who found the deep end of the pool of faith.  Again, his works are numerous with more out since his death.  I began with The Way of the Heart and still read it.  I would add Reaching Out and The Return of the Prodigal Son.

Joan Chittister is still writing a number of books.  A Benedictine sister who has written extensively, she is who you should read if you want to see my rule of leadership ideal.  Her picture of the abbot in The Rule of Benedict: A Rule for the 21st Century is what I try to let inform what I do as rector at Grace.

Richard Foster has contributed to the life of contemporary spirituality within classical Christianity by bringing back the disciplines of the church for the last two generations, especially in his classic Celebration of Discipline.  It is not the newest book, but it provides a firm place to explore the basic practices of a life with God.