20 Mar 2010

Top Ten Books Every Preacher Should Own and Digest

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Bobby's World, Books, Discipleship, Exegesis, Hermeneutics, Preaching, Reading, Spiritual Disciplines
c70bff3418d1abb7f9477338ea79d1a1Of making many books there is no end …” (Ecclesiastes 12.12)

When an intelligent person hears a wise saying, he praises it and adds to it;  when a fool hears it, he laughs at it and throws it behind his back” (Sirach 21.15)

Books Every Preacher & Serious Student Should Own, Read, and Read Again

Here are the Top Ten Books Every Preacher should own, read and digest carefully. It is actually hard to pick ONLY ten because our task(s), as ministers, are varied and complex and we have many areas we work in. However, I have chosen to focus only on books that have something to do with the biblical text. This is after all our primary obligation … preach the text!  I feel these books are significant on any level that can be looked at. They are not books once read and then forgotten.  They are books that I have come back to again and again and again. They will help you focus and be a better student of the word.  There are other books ministers need but this post is specifically about being a muncher of God’s word.  I am just listing and providing a link.  If I had the money to purchase these books I would for every minister.  If I could make every student read them I would 🙂

1) How to Read the Bible for All its Worth by Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart

2) The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative by Christopher Wright







3) Surprised by Hope, N. T. Wright








4) In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity, Oskar Skarsaune

5) Yesterday, Today, and Forever: The Continuing Relevance of the Old Testament, Larry Helyer

6) The Drama of Scripture: Finding our Place in the Biblical Story, Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew

7) Practice Resurrection, Eugene Peterson








8) A Community Called Atonement, Scot McKnight

9) Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament, Ellen F. Davis

10) The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, Dallas Willard

I thought LONG and hard about this list. I was not seeking a list of books that said what I wanted to hear. Or books that confirmed me in my own thinking or self-righteousness. Rather these books, each one, has so enriched my life and my ministry.  I do not agree with every iota in them but each one made me think, pray and study and often taught me in ways I was unprepared for.

I believe that every preacher should have these books. I believe that every preacher should read, digest and reflect deeply on these books and then come back … in conjunction with THE book.

17 Responses to “Top Ten Books Every Preacher Should Own and Digest”

  1. cwinwc Says:

    I’m not a preacher Bro but I’m going to check out your list. I just finished “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. Very challenging. Thanks for the list and God’s blessings to you.

  2. kingdomseeking Says:

    I have at least read the top three and would agree. The others do look interesting.

    Grace and peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  3. kingdomseeking Says:

    Quick question… I am halfway through with reading through N.T. Wright’s “New Testament and the People of God”. What differences do you see between Wright’s synthesis of Second-Temple Judasim and its influence upon early Christianity and that of Oskar Skarsaune’s book?

    -K. Rex Butts

  4. Matthew Dowling Says:

    Good stuff Bobby, thanks.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Hello. And Bye.

  6. Frank Bellizzi Says:


    This looks to be a fine list. Some of these I haven’t gotten to yet. I had not seen the Helyer book. That looks especially interesting.

  7. Steve Puckett Says:

    I would add Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians.
    Thanks for the list. Peace.

  8. Mick Porter Says:

    Just looking at your blog after seeing you comment at kingdomseeking; I love this list, and in particular I have never seen the Goheen/Bartholomew book on a list like this. I’m also excited to see both “O.T.” Wright and N.T. Wright on the list! (Actually got to hear Christopher speak on mission recently).

    I think you may be interested in this small-group study material I created around the kind of thinking found in Goheen/Bartholomew:


  9. Mick Porter Says:

    Oops, URL didn’t show up too well – I’ve put it in the URL for my identity for this comment 🙂

  10. Stoogelover Says:

    I would add Gary Larson’s “The Complete Far Side” just to get some insight into a few of those people in the pews.

    Good list. Makes me want to pick up a couple of them I’ve not read … but I’m not preaching any longer.

    Any good suggestions for ex-preachers turned funeral directors?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Understandably your article helped me very much in my college assignment. Hats off to you enter, choice look ahead in behalf of more cognate articles soon as its anecdote of my pet question to read.

  12. nick gill Says:

    Owned #1 until a friend’s dog ate it. Haven’t found a replacement copy @ Half-Price yet, but I do have the sequel, as well as God’s Holy Fire, which is basically a RM version of #1.

    Own #2 and it consistently blows my mind – I really want to blog my way through it.

    Own #3 – fine work by the bishop

    Don’t have 4-9, but I do have Blue Parakeet & the Conversations in Spiritual Theology series. I would add, in place of one of your “Rediscovering the OT” texts, “Preaching: the Art of Narrative Evangelism” by Calvin Miller.

    And #10 was a paradigm-shattering text for me. I’ve never been the same since.

  13. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    A note on this list: It is NOT limited to preachers. I just feel that preachers need to have and read these books. But every one of these works would bless the life and walk of ANY saint.

  14. kingdomseeking Says:

    Bobby, I thought Wright’s “Christian Origin’s and the Question of God” was goog bedtime devotional reading :-).

    Any ways, thanks for clarifying the difference between Wright’s work and Oskar’s. I have added Oskar’s book to my Amazon wish list.

    Grace and peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  15. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Rex you will thank me when you read it. I promise.

  16. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Rex, The NT & People of God is a very different book from In the Shadow of the Temple. I really do believe that that work and the Jesus and the Victory of God are essential reading but they are big and intimidating and I just dont think many who are stuck either on a diet of Max Lucado or the Spiritual Sword (on the other end) will pick them up.


    While shedding bright light on much of the NT itself his work moves beyond that into the 2nd and 3rd centuries and demonstrates convincingly how Judaism continued to influence Christian theology and practice. It is a very rich work.

  17. Cheryl Russell Says:

    I’m still working through The Divine Conspiracy. I love it, but it makes my brain hurt. Good list, I will order the Jewish influences book. Hope you are well!

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