19 September 2007

25 Top Books for Theology

My sister-in-law, Deb, wrote asking which are the 25 top books for theology from my perspective. So here goes, rather off the top of my head and not in any particular order, excluding the Sacred Scriptures and the Symbolical Books of the Lutheran Church, these are theological works that have had a significant impact upon me and my theological thought (such as it is!):

1. The Conservative Reformation by Krauth
2. The Eucharist by Schmemann
3. For the Life of the World by Schmemann
4. The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel by C. F. W. Walther
5. Examination of the Council of Trent by Chemnitz
6. The Two Natures in Christ by Chemnitz
7. The Loci Theologici by Chemnitz
8. This is My Body by Hermann Sasse
9. Spirit of the Liturgy by Ratzinger
10. The Church by Piepkorn
11. Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions by Piepkorn
12. On the Incarnation of the Word by St. Athanasius
13. Sacred Meditations by Johann Gerhard
14. City of God by St. Augustine
15. Confessions by St. Augustine
16. The Life in Christ by St. Nicholas Cabasilas
17. Preaching the Reformation by Urbanus Rhegius
18. The Church by Marquardt
19. The Lord's Supper by Stephenson
20. Eschatology by Stephenson
21. Grace for Grace: the Psalter and the Holy Fathers (a collection by various authors)
22. Great Galatians Commentary by Martin Luther
23. In the Image and Likeness of God by Lossky
24. On the Holy Spirit by St. Basil the Great
25. The Structure of Lutheranism by Elert

Thoughts? And what would YOUR list be?


Anonymous said...

This should take care of my wish lists for Christmas and birthdays for a while. Thanks for sharing the list, Rev. Weedon!

Michael Schuermann

William Weedon said...

You know, even though I wouldn't include these in the top 25, I have to give honorable mention to them both:

Zizioulas' *Being as Communion* - an amazing book that my friend, Pastor Karl Bachman, made me read years ago, but which has stayed with me.

Also, Romanides *The Ancestral Sin* - a book that is very helpful in getting a handle on how a certain segment of the East differs from the West on the matter of original sin - though I think his understanding of what the West (at least the Lutheran West) does teach about OS is quite flawed and I'm not sure how unanimously he speaks for the East. Still it's an utterly intriguing book, and I've not been persuaded that his take on Romans 5:12 is at all in error.

solarblogger said...

I just wrote a list of Lutheran books for a friend to get. So this is not exactly the same kind of list. And I knew some of what he already had, and am skipping annotations here. This is not to be taken as a solid stand-alone list, but may have some that people would otherwise miss:

This is My Body: Luther's Contention for the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar by Hermann Sasse
Here We Stand: The Nature and Character of Lutheranism by Hermann Sasse
the We Confess series by Hermann Sasse
The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz.
Let God Be God by Philip Watson
Luther's Progress to the Diet of Worms by E.G. Rupp
Christus Victor by Gustaf Aulén
Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life by Gerhard Forde
Living by Grace by William Hordern
Christian Baptism by Uuras Saarnivaara
Career of the Reformer volumes from Luther's Works
Word and Sacrament volume III from Luther's Works
Liturgy and Hymns from Luther's Works
Table Talk from Luther's Works
Erasmus and Luther from the Library of Christian Classics

Anonymous said...

This will have all of the Lutherans spinning their tops as we say, but here is my list. And for the record I do well think this a needed corrective to the dogmatic thinking that pervades much, if not most all, of conservative and American Lutheranism. I did notice that the conservative Lutheran book list is usually short on exegetical theology, and hence short on the political and ethical dimension of the gospel. However, it is usually top heavy with Reformation-era references, not least owing to the books offered by dear Martin Luther himself. Be that what it may, here it is:

The New Testament and the People of God, N.T. Wright

What St. Paul Really Said, N.T. Wright

Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon

The Christian Tradition (mutli-volume set), Jaroslav Pelikan

Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Karl Barth

Systematic Theology (1), Robert W. Jenson

The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder

Peaceable Kingdom, Stanley Hauerwas

On Liturgical Theology, Aidan Kavanagh

The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann

On The Incarnation, St. Athanasuis

Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf

Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis, L. Gregory Jones,

On The Holy Spirit, St. Basil the Great

And to top things off, a few random items from Hans Urs von Balthasar


William Weedon said...

I have to confess: I despise "exegetical" works and find them mostly worthless. There. I said it. Shoot me. ;)

Why worthless? Because once taken away from the matrix of the liturgy and the Church's lived experience with the books, the dusty scholar's approach strikes me most often as utterly barren and beside the point. That Word of God is dynamic, darn it all, and it IMPACTS the community of God across the centuries and to ignore its impact is foolhardy.

But I still like 1/2 of your list, Oliver. :)

Steven G. said...

Here are a few more for consideration:

Spirtus Creator by Regin Prenter

Fire and the Staff by Klemet Preuss

Theology is for Proclamation by Gerhard O. Forde

On Being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard O. Forde

Theology of the Lutheran Confessions by Edmund Schlink

Rev. John Frahm said...

Not in precise order:

1. Chemnitz/Gerhard – The Doctrine of Man in Classical Lutheran Theology (CPH)
2. Examination of the Council of Trent – Chemnitz
3. Ministry, Word, and Sacraments: An Enchirdion – Chemnitz
4. The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel – C.F.W. Walther
5. Law, Life and the Living God – Scott Murray
6. Divine Service: Liturgy in Perspective – Olof Herrlin
7. Here We Stand – Hermann Sasse
8. The Lord’s Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz – Bjarne W. Teigen
9. Confirmation in the Lutheran Church – A.C. Repp
10. Three Books About the Church – Wilhelm Loehe
11. Against the Heresies (Adversus Haereses) – Irenaeus of Lyons
12. The Two Natures in Christ – Martin Chemnitz
13. Eschatology – John Stephenson
14. The Lord’s Supper – John Stephenson
15. Luther’s Liturgical Criteria and His Reform of the Canon of the Mass – Bryan Spinks
16. The Justification Reader – Thomas Oden
17. The Complete Timotheus Verinus – V.E. Loescher
18. Hermann Sasse: A Man for our Times? - ed. Thomas Winger & John Stephenson
19. The Spiritual Society: What Lies Beyond Post-modernism – Fred Baue
20. Lutherans in Crisis – David Gustafson
21. Baptism – David P. Scaer
22. Counseling and Confession – Koehler
23. doctoral dissertation – Kenneth F. Korby
24. On the Unity of Christ – Cyril of Alexandria
25. J.S. Bach: Liturgical Life in Leipzig – Guenther Stiller

Pr John Frahm

Christopher Esget said...

Great list, William.
I'd add:
*The Quest for Holiness (Koeberle)
*AE 37 (Luther - "That These Words, 'This Is My Body,' etc., Still Stand Firm against the Fanatics" and "Confession Concerning Christ's Supper")
*Against Heresies (Irenaeus)


William Weedon said...

Some interesting additions to the lists! Thanks. Now time for another confession. I've never read a thing by Forde, and so it looks like I need to add him to my reading list. And John, what is this book by Gustafson? Sounds interesting. More data, please?

Anonymous said...

Pastor Weedon, in my opinion a really good place to start with Forde's writing is the recently published

A More Radical Gospel: Essays on Eschatology, Authority, Atonement, and Ecumenism
(Eerdmans, 2004).

Rev. John Frahm said...

Pr. Weedon,

The Gustafson book is now out of print from Augsburg/Fortress but it covered the controversy between Krauth and Schmucker. You might be able to find it used online or through Loome Booksellers in Stillwater, MN

It is similar to the work by Vergilious Ferm in old CPH heritage series.

Rev. John Frahm said...

As far as Forde goes, I'd recommend his book Theology is for Proclamation. I think you'd find some resonance to thoughts in Korby (getting the right sensorum).

A few others that weren't on my original list:

Herman Preus - A Theology to Live By (CPH)

The STM thesis of Gerald Krispin comparing Luther and Spener on private confession as well as his doctoral dissertation on Paul Gerhardt.

Dr. Thomas Winger's dissertation on the Orality of Scripture.

John Kleinig - Concordia Commentary on Leviticus.

The Scaer Festschrift - All Theology is Christology - great essay by Nagel on ordination

Nagel Festschrift - And Every Tongue Confess

Marquart Festschrift - Mysteria Dei

John Pless - Handling the Word of Truth

Carl Wisloff - The Gift of Communion

Vilmos Vajta - Luther on Worship

Friedrich Kalb - Theology of Worship in 17th Century Lutheranism

Oliver Olson - Matthias Flacius and the Survival of Luther's Reforms

Past Elder said...

Maybe it's because I'm not a pastor or a theologian but just a convert from Catholicism, but it strikes me that no-one has mentioned something that was absolutely ground breaking for me -- Babylonian Captivity, along with two other treatises in a little volume from Fortress called "Three Treatises", but especially Babylonian Captivity. Maybe it's because I was a captive in Babylon for quite some time and couldn't quite figure out what was going wrong.