book learnings from 2012 (part 2)

continuing today with my takeaways and thoughts from the books i read in 2012. read HERE for the whole setup and my explanation of the 5* *STAR* system that rates each book. you can also read my takeaways from the books i read in January-February in yesterday's post HERE.

still working through the books i read, in the order i read them during the year. these are the books i read March - May & all but 3 were required reading for classes.

Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission, and His Message - Michael Bird     3.5*s
this book was not NEARLY as good & in depth as Rediscovering Paul by Capes that i reviewed in yesterday's post... but it was a much shorter more popular version. same idea & same intent. so i enjoyed it as well.
"If the Paul we claim to know looks and sounds a lot like us, then that is probably a good indication that we do not know him as well as we think we do.” - that's a good summary from the beginning for where the book was headed.
& what this book set out to do in a very popular/readable way = "If we can be mature enough to let Paul be Paul and treat his letters as windows into his world rather than as deposits of theological dogma, then we stand a chance of meeting him anew…”  

A Concise New Testament Theology - I. Howard Marshall     3*s
as New Testament theologies go, this one is actually ok. it was nice & concise :) edited from his larger one already published, which "they" all say is the best one going right now.
the coolest part i loved about this NT theology is that it is written and proposed from the perspective of MISSION. Mission is the core, the foundation that all NT theology flows from... not the other way around. loved reading it this way. the author builds his whole theology from the assumption that the NT writings are the documents of a mission and that NT theology is essentially missionary theology.
a little surprising to hear from the top dawg NT theologian of today but very refreshing.
"In short, people who are called by God to be missionaries are carrying out their calling by the writing of Gospels, Letters, and related material.”

Dictionary of Paul and His Letters - (IVP)     4*s
this was a really sick read... this is pretty much everything of the best stuff that every top scholar has to say about Paul. over 1,000 pages if i remember correctly. took me forever to read, but really really good.
and i mean EVERYTHING from Paul on the Kingdom, mysticism, principalities & powers, universalism, Paul's interpreters through the ages, etc...
if i don't have a better grasp of Paul after that Spring semester and books like this one then that's on me.

Jesus Driven Ministry - Ajith Fernando     2*s
i mean decent, but wouldn't read it again. kind of wasted time although i'm sure there were positives from the book. just can't remember what they were. :) basically he tried to build a Jesus' leadership philosophy out of the book of Mark & walk through it chronologically. REALLY stretched some stuff & did some (imho) violence to the context. surprised me about Fernando. seemed like he just had the publishers breathing down his neck to pump out this book. didn't really disagree with much that he said, was just frowning at how he got there.
told the prof in the paper that this book was a waste of time.

Serve the Community of the Church - Andrew D. Clarke     3*
really good. took a long time to get to the really good part, but really good. essentially the majority of the book goes more in depth than anything i've ever seen to help the reader fully grasp and be immersed in he Graeco-Roman context 1st century Christian were in. much different than what we might assume. that took up most of the book & then we get the gold of conclusions at the very end. the fact that the leadership philosophy Jesus and Paul were presenting were as radically counter-cultural and rebellious as they could get. the idea of a leader being a servant was no mistake & it FORCED leaders to make a HARD break from the culturally accepted leadership mode.

The 29% Solution - Ivan Misner     3.5*s
total change of pace from all this technical stuff above. blazed through this one at my buddy Scott's house when i was there for his wedding and he was working. just plucked this off his shelf and read it. the author gives 52 specific strategies for networking. seriously, 52. broken into 8 sections/ categories like creating your own future, expanding your network, going the extra mile, etc...
really really practical stuff. a lot of the 2nd half didn't apply a lot to me, but just good practical stuff for relating to people.

A Theology of the New Testament - George Eldon Ladd     3*s
this is the famous classic NT theology from a more recently dead guy. he's the famous "kingdom of God" prof from Fuller. i've read some of his other stuff. this was pretty good. it was big and long. i preferred Marshall's for sure with it being a lot shorter and more focused and written in more modern times.
i don't think i was much in the mood for reading this one, to be fair.

The Dirt on Sex - Justin Lookadoo     3*s
i don't even know where this book came from or how it ended up on my shelf. but i saw it when i was in the middle of writing/prepping a series on sex for the student ministry at Ridge.
this book is GOLDEN for its audience (teenagers/pre-teens). EVERY teenager should read this book. if i could buy 1 for them all i would. straight up, holding nothing back, real talk about EVERYTHING sex. & done in a very relevant, chill kind of way.
i'ma hang onto this one for my kids... that's for sure. although, i'm sure it will be "out of date" by the time they're older...

Naked Spirituality - Brian McLaren     5*s
best book i've ever read.
i realize that's a big statement. it may be due to the fact of the timing of when i read it. McLaren is also my fav author in terms of his voice & writing style. he connects with me. i'm sure that helped too.
i read it sitting out on a beautiful deck overlooking an extraordinary view of the mountains and a lake...
this book is everything that's right with spirituality. it is RAW. no fake stuff here. just real. & it's basic. nothing fancy or new. just a reminder back to the raw, real, intimate spirituality.
read it.

Bioethics and the Christian Life - David VanDrunen     2*s
really disappointed at this book. bioethics class was awesome, but this book was... (YAWN)... boring. really elementary and old school. felt like Leave It To Beaver wrote a book about bioethics.
honestly i kind of felt like this guy might be worlds apart from me. like we might be starting with 2 different worldviews almost. there were a few good things i learned as always, but i was spitting out way more than i was chewing up.

there you have it. that takes us through the 18 books i read through May. really helpful for me to think back and flesh out/write out some takeaways & thoughts.
next up - books i read in the summer...