Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
2012: Top Ten Books
Image: View of one of my newly built basement bookshelves.
It’s time for my
annual reading review.You can also read
past reviews for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.Here are ten of my top reads for 2012 (in no particular order):
1.Malcolm Watts, What is a Reformed Church? (Reformation
Heritage Books, 2011):164 pp.
This book provides a brief, concise introduction to the distinctive
beliefs and practices of a Reformed church.It is both clear and charitable and has been a good book to pass on to
visitors and inquirers to our church.It
was especially nice to read after meeting Pastor Watts in person and having him
preach at CRBC in September 2011.
Horton, The Christian Faith:A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way
(Zondervan, 2011):1052 pp.
Though I did not always agree with his method or conclusions,
I profited from reading this weighty systematic theology from a distinctively
3.Michael L. Brown, A Queer Thing Happened
to America:And What a Long, Strange
Trip It’s Been (Equaltime Books, 2011):689 pp.
This book by apologist Michael Brown offers a compelling and
well-documented review and analysis of advocacy for acceptance of homosexual
practice in American and Western culture.What is amazing is how much further things have developed in the single
year since this book was published.
4.Various authors, Sermons of the
Great Ejection (orig. 1662, 1663; Banner of Truth, 1962, 2012):276 pp.
Reprinted this year by Banner on the 350th anniversary
of “The Great Ejection,” this book provides an anthology of sermons from
various Puritan Pastors who were forced from their pulpits due to
5.Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The
Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert:An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith (Crown &
Covenant, 2012):154 pp.
This author of this book, a former professor at Syracuse
University, tells the story of her unlikely conversion to Christ through the
faithful witness of a Reformed pastor and his church and the not always smooth
process of sanctification that has taken place in her life.
6.Robert B. Strimple, The Modern
Search for the Real Jesus:An
Introductory Survey of the Historical Roots of Gospel Criticism (P & R,
This book offers an insightful survey of modern
historical-critical Life of Jesus research from a conservative, evangelical
7.Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the
Historical Jesus (orig., 1906; Macmillan, 1968):413 pp.
I finally had the chance to give this classic of New
Testament scholarship a close reading in preparation for teaching a class on “The
Life and Teachings of Jesus” in the Spring.Though a translation from the German original which covers detailed and
technical topics, this work held my interest with its wit, penetrating
insights, aphoristic expressions, and often biting sarcasm.I totally disagree with Schweitzer’s
conclusions but am in awe of his accomplishment.
8.Leo Damrosch, Jean-Jacques
Rousseau:Restless Genius (Mariner
Books, 2005, 2007):566 pp.
One of my interests this year was learning more about the
Enlightenment.To that end, I enjoyed
reading this biography of Rousseau.What
a man of contradictions.He writes
classic works on education but abandons his own children to the orphanage!
9.John Flavel, The Mystery of
Providence (orig. 1678; Banner of Truth, 1963):221 pp.
You can’t go wrong with reading a Puritan paperback!Flavel’s writing style in this book rivals
Thomas Watson in its ease of access.I
found his thoughts on God’s providential care extremely encouraging.
10.David Murray, How Sermons Work (Evangelical Press, 2011):160 pp.
This is a creative and practical “how to” book on preaching
that I found a stimulating help in sermon preparation.
Other notable reads
Puritans:Harvey Wish, Ed., The
Diary of Samuel Sewell (Capricorn Books, 1967);John Bunyan, The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (orig., 1680; Echo Library, 2007);
Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity
(orig., 1692; Banner of Truth, 1997).
Modern Life of Jesus
Studies:Edgar Krentz, The Historical-Critical Method (Fortress, 1975); Harry Emerson
Fosdick, Jesus of Nazareth (Landmark,
Random House, 1959); Martin Kahler, The
So-called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ (orig., 1896; Fortress,
1964); John A. T. Robinson, Honest to God
(Westminster Press, 1963); Adolf Harnack, What
is Christianity? (Harper and Row, 1957); James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes
Eddy, Eds., The Historical Jesus:Five Views (IVP Academic, 2009); Albert
Schweitzer, Out of my Life and Thought
(Holt, 1933, 1949).
Text and Translation Studies:Jeffrey D. Johnson, Behind the
Bible:A Primer on Textual Criticism
(Solid Ground, 2012); Philip Comfort, The
Complete Guide to Bible Versions (Living Books, 1991); Hershel Shanks, et
al., The Dead Sea Scrolls:After Forty Years (Biblical Archaeology
Society, 1991, 1992); Graham A. Patrick, F.
J. A. Hort:Eminent Victorian (The
Almond Press, 1988).
Philosophy:Will Durant, The Story of
Philosophy (Garden City Publishing, 1926, 1927); Paul Strathern, Kant in 90 Minutes (Ivan R. Dee, 1996);
Nathaniel Bluehorn and Hans Bluehorn, The
Fallacy Detective (Christian Logic, 2003).
Bible Study:James M. Boice, Romans, Vol. 4
(Baker, 1995); John Murray, Romans,
Vol. 2 (Eerdmans, 1965); Bart D. Ehrman, A
Brief Introduction to the New Testament, Second Ed. (Oxford University
Press, 2009); Archibald A. Hodge and Benjamin B. Warfield, Inspiration (orig., 1881; Baker 1979); Clark H. Pinnock, The Message of Galatians (Baker, 1972).
Biography and History:Anthony Everitt, Cicero:The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest
Politician (Random House, 2001); Bruce Bliven, The American Revolution: 1760-1783 (Landmark, Random House, 1958);
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The “Down Grade”
Controversy (Pilgrim, n. d.).
Evangelism Studies:C. H. Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner
(Pilgrim Publications, n.d.); David J. Engelsma, Evangelism and the Reformed Faith (Evangelism Committee of the
Protestant Reformed Church, 1994); David J. Engelsma, Hyper-Calvinism & The Call of the Gospel, Revised Ed. (Reformed
Free Publishing, 1994).
Theology and ministry:Joel R. Beeke, Getting Back in the
Race: The Cure for Backsliding (Cruciform Press, 2011); W. Gary Crampton, Grant What Thou Commandest:The Theology of Augustine of Hippo
(NiceneCouncil.com, 2011); Timothy Nelson, The
Head Covering:What Saith the
Trust, n. d.); Peter Jeffrey, Bitesize
Theology:An ABC of the Christian Faith (Evangelical
Press, 2000); J. V. Fesko, What is
Justification? (P & R, 2008).