New College, University of Edinburgh
Top Reads for the Festive Break

Top Reads for the Festive Break

Samuel Hildebrandt, one of our enterprising Hebrew Bible PhD students recently asked the New College faculty if they could each recommend a book for the festive period. Here are our responses (sometimes with justifications):

Dr. Sean Adams – Maren Niehoff, Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (CUP, 2011).

Niehoff examines how Greek literary and scholastic culture influenced literate Jews (Aristobulus, Demetrius, Philo) living in Alexandria. It is insightful, well-researched, and makes a good contribution to understanding how Jewish and Greek cultures interacted with each other.

Dr. Helen Bond – Andrew Lincoln, Born of a Virgin? Reconceiving Jesus in the Bible, Tradition, and Theology (Eerdmans, 2013).

This is a brilliant (if lengthy!) treatment of the virginal conception/birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, asking how a practising Christian can reconcile Christian belief with the view that the story is mythical. He takes us on a tour not only of the biblical passages, but also science ancient and modern, and the rise of the doctrine of the ‘virgin birth’ in later theology.

Dr. Paul Foster – Alan H. Cadwallader and M. Trainor, eds., Colossae in Space and Time: Linking to an Ancient City(Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011).

This book was particularly helpful in my own reflections on Colossae. It challenges, and largely overturns, the idea that the site of Colossae was left uninhabited after an earthquake in the early 60s. Thus it opens up various fresh interpretative possibilities for the letter to the Colossians.

Dr. Alison Jack – Norman Vance, Bible and Novel: Narrative Authority and the Death of God (OUP, 2013).

It’s a very erudite but also readable exploration of the late 19th century literary world and its relationship to biblical interpretation. If you like Thomas Hardy, or George Eliot; or a favourite of mine from my teenage years, Rider Haggard, then you will also find this book fascinating.

Prof. Larry Hurtado – Matthew Novenson, Christ among the Messiahs: Christ Language in Paul and Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism (OUP, 2012).

Also – Gillian Clark, Christianity and Roman Society (CUP, 2004).

Dr. Anja Klein – Michael M. Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (OUP 1985).

Dies ist sozusagen das Standardwerk zum Phänomen der innerbiblischen Schriftauslegung, die hier an einer Reihe von Beispielen erläutert wird und dazu bietet das Werk unterhaltsame Lektüre.

Prof. Timothy Lim – John J. Collins, “Modern Theology,” in Reading Genesis: Ten Methods, ed. Ronald Hendel (CUP, 2010): 196-214.


Dr. Matthew Novenson – Brent Nongbri, Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept (YUP, 2013).

A very interesting account of the ancient and medieval (especially Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) concepts that are subsumed, sometimes problematically, under the modern rubric of religion.

Dr. David Reimer – Walter Moberly, Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture (Baker, 2013)

Hot off the press. Moberly’s thoughtful theological engagements with the Hebrew Bible are never less than stimulating, and I find his elegant style a pleasure to read.

Also, Bruce Gordon, Calvin (YUP, 2009)

A delightful summer read. Written while Gordon was at St Andrews (he’s now at Yale), Gordon’s biography of Calvin is one of those works which rightly deserves the accolade “masterful”! Read Gordon’s account of Calvin’s account of passing kidney stones “the size of a kernel of a hazel nut” while keeping up his prodigious commitments and you’ll never complain about working conditions again.


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