Jim Hamilton’s Top Ten Favorite Books in Biblical Studies

Dr. Jim Hamilton is a professor of Biblical theology at the world’s greatest seminary – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY; and more importantly, a pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church; a theologian; and an author. He is also the author of the blog: For His Reknown . Dr. Hamilton made a most helpful post last summer on his favorite books in Biblical Studies, which he removed after a commenter accused him of self promotion. I’d like to re-post the list here because I think the list is helpful. This list is subjective and biased (obviously), but I think it is useful and should be public.  I’m always curious about the works that influence pastors and theologians, so I always find these types of lists helpful in deciding what I want to read.

Amongst those that I hope to read someday: the two on Old Testament Theology, the NT Theology by Ladd, Beale’s book on the temple (see my recent blog post), and the work on the Pentateuch by Alexander, which I’d like to read soon.

“1. God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology – sorry if this seems like shameless self-promotion, but there’s no one I agree with more than myself. In this book I aimed to get at the heart of the theology of every book of the Bible. I didn’t say everything, no doubt more could be said and better, but I said what I thought needed to be said as well as I could say it.

2. Stephen Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible – this book profoundly shaped my approach to OT Theology.

3. Paul House, Old Testament Theology – unlike Dempster, House goes book by book through the OT, which I allowed to serve as a guided tour of the OT reading through it one year. I learned a ton about every book of the Old Testament.

4. Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity – fascinating. Insightful. Explanatory. Fun to read.

5. N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God – don’t agree with everything (especially the adoption of Sanders’ conclusions), but this may be the best book Wright has written, thoughResurrection may be better.

6. Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ – the best thematic study of Paul’s theology available, and it had a profound impact on me when I first started thinking about biblical theology.

7. G. E. Ladd, New Testament Theology – I read this book right after reading N. T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, and I remember feeling that at the points where Wright lost his footing on the beam, Ladd was right on balance.

8. G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission – a seminal, paradigm shifting book that reshaped the way I think about the world, the temple, the church, and what we’re here to do.

9. Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation – this is a great book. Short, eye-opening, thorough, moving.

10. T. D. Alexander, From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology – it’s amazing what Alexander packs into this short book! I could just as well have listed his book From Paradise to the Promised Land, but this one covers the whole Bible (and I slipped the other in by mentioning it!).”

7 thoughts on “Jim Hamilton’s Top Ten Favorite Books in Biblical Studies

  1. I’ve been looking for this for a while since it looks like Jim’s original post has been moved or removed. You mention a few that you’d like to read, did you manage to get around to them yet If so, what did you think?

    • Lindsay –

      Dr. Hamilton removed the original post from his blog when one of his readers criticized him for posting his own book as #1 on the list. I was able to track down the original post and copied it here for folks because I think it has value.

      The only work on the list I’ve read is #2. I know this work has been very influential, but I didn’t care for it for some reason. I agree with the big picture idea that a chosen people (seed) and a chosen place (land) are two primary themes of the Old Testament, but I think the author strains to place those themes everywhere in Scripture. I guess the work is a little over-speculative for my taste. I’ve read Vos and I really prefer him to this work. I read a library copy, so I worked through it pretty quickly, so perhaps I should give it another chance.

      I’d still like to read House, but I haven’t gotten around to it.

      Regarding Beale’s book, I found a paper on the internet someplace (forget where) that summarizes his thoughts on the Temple and the Church. I’ve heard that if you read this paper, you will get a good overview summary of his ideas. I bet you could google it up (it’s a PDF).

      I found Ladd’s book at a local bookstore yesterday and I’m thinking about picking it up and working through it. I like the Ladd stuff I’ve read.

      I’m also reading Pentateuch as Narrative by Sailhammer, which is pretty good. It reads more like a high-level commentary than a BT, but I think it’s pretty good.

      You can also find a PDF of Kingdom Prologue on the internet and I recommend that.

      What have you read? What do you recommend?


  2. Pingback: Jim Hamilton recommendations for Biblical Studies « My Digital Seminary

  3. Hi Andrew, thank you for your reply and summary of these books. I’ve got a few Vos books on my list of books to get. To be honest I haven’t read any of these and probably the only thing I’ve read close to Biblical Theology per se is Gordon Fee’s Pauline Christology, which I’d highly recommend (of course he has certain quirks but the book has been a feast for me, I’m just in the second half).

    About Dr. Hamilton’s post, I’m quite surprised that someone would complain about him putting his book at #1. It feels like a false understanding of humility that would demand someone to not think their own work is useful!

    • Lindsay –

      I don’t understand why anyone would criticize Dr. Hamilton for endorsing his own book. If he didn’t strongly believe what he wrote, he wouldn’t have written it.

      By the way, you can find a lot of syllabi for various seminary-level classes at RBS: http://www.rbseminary.org/syllabi-exegetical-theology/

      You may not agree ‘down the line’ with everything at a reformed Baptist institution like that, but you will get some good reading ideas.

      About the only works that I highly endorse are: Pilgrim’s Progress, Matthew Henry’s Commentaries, AW Pink’s The Divine Covenants, Thomas Watson’s Body of Divinity, and The Marrow of Modern Divinity. These can all be found freely online.

      For additional ideas about home-like seminary training, see “No Time For Seminary?” at the following link:

      Again, this is heavily biases towards reformed theology, but I think you’ll get some good ideas, none the less.

      God Bless,

      • Thank you Andrew, these links look great.
        I’m not worried about Reformed Baptist theology, in fact I’m probably closer to it than anything else.

  4. Pingback: Jim Hamilton’s Recommendations for Biblical Studies

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