Introductory bible texts

A most conscientious first year theology student recently asked me for some recommendations of introductions to the old and new testaments for his holiday reading. It’s been a while since I read an introduction to the testaments, so I basically suggested to him what I found helpful when I was a first year student. Here’s what I suggested to him (denoted with *) … plus a few that I didn’t mention:

Introduction to the Old Testament

*Adrio König, Here Am I: A Christian Reflection on God

Brevard S. Childs, Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context

*Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture

*Christopher J. H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament

Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments

Gerhard Von Rad, Old Testament Theology: The Theology of Israel’s Traditions

*John Goldingay, Old Testament Theology (3 vols)

Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy

*Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination

Walter Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament (2 vols)

*William J. Dumbrell, The Faith of Israel. A Theological Survey of the Old Testament

*William J. Dumbrell, Covenant & Creation: A Theology of Old Testament Covenants

William J. Dumbrell, Search for Order: Biblical Eschatology in Focus

*William Sanford La Sor, David Allan Hubbard, Frederic William Bush, and Leslie C. Allen, Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament

Introduction to the New Testament

*Adolf Schlatter, The Theology of the Apostles

*Donald A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, Introduction to the New Testament

Donald A. Carson, The Gospel According to John: An Introduction and Commentary

E. P. Sanders and Margaret Davies, Studying the Synoptic Gospels

*George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament

*Herman Nicolaas Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology

J. Christiaan Beker, Paul The Apostle

Joel B. Green (ed.), Hearing the New Testament: Strategies for Interpretation

John H. Hayes, Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner’s Handbook

Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans

Luke Timothy Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation

*Merrill Chapin Tenney, New Testament Survey

N. T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology

Philip E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews

Richard Bauckham, James: Wisdom of James, Disciple of Jesus the Sage

Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation

Richard B. Hays, The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul As Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture

Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics

Robert H. Gundry, Survey of the New Testament

Now what have I left off this list that is as ‘must’ as they come? For those who can remember that far back, what did you find most helpful (or otherwise) as a first year biblical studies student?

NB: This list plus a few others have been added to this blog’s Reading List.


  1. Hi Jason, I’d have included some of the NT volumes you cite – but there are two stand-out volumes that are as must as they come!

    David De Silva’s Introduction to the NT. Contexts, methods and Ministry Formation, quite simply eclipses the other candidates in the field for a comprehensive, constructively criticalal, theologically enhanced, pastorally oriented, engagement with the range of NT texts and contexts. The approach is conducted on several fronts and it avoids simply rehearsing the standard stuff.
    And Raymond Brown’s Introduction to the NT is a masterpiece of distilled erudition, carried off in readable English by a scholar whose faith commitment informs without prejudicing his scholarship. I still cherish (I do, seriously) his two volume Anchor Commentary on John – dated now in some key aspects, but still a treasure chest, a tool box and a benchmark for exegesis done from within the Church through the academy. (peroration finis!)


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