If (and I don’t know why you would) you’ve read through my long list of everything I read in 2022, or even if you haven’t, here’s my Top Twenty, and the Top Ten. Firstly, in image form, the Top Twenty, then a textual breakdown, and then an image of the Top Ten.
My book of the year, in terms of its physical production, breadth of engagement, utility for my day-to-day work/ministry (and other people’s!) is ‘The Pharisees’, edited by. And published by Eerdmans. This is a serious book – you can read my review here. On a related note, though it was less readable, I appreciated (in terms of understanding more!) the big historical picture of Christian anti-semitism in James Carroll’s ‘Constantine’s Sword’ is a sobering but important book.
The best chapter in a book that I read this year was about depression in John Swinton’s ‘Finding Jesus in the Storm’, published by SCM Press. This is a beautifully written book that I hope will be widely read.
The best commentary I read this year was Marianne Meye Thompson’s THNTC on Colossians and Philemon. It’s a brilliant commentary, but it also does some excellent theology. Coming in close behind it was Linda Belleville’s NCCS volume on Philippians – which said more in less pages than nearly every commentary on any biblical book that I’ve read.
The book I’ve recommended most to other people is a tie between two. One, for Christians in particular, is ‘This Beautiful Truth’ by Sarah Clarkson. You can read my review here. The other one is Jeffrey Boakye’s ‘Black, Listed’ – a genuinely brilliant bit of writing that took me out of my comfort zone and into other cultures.
The best book on the Psalms I read in 2022 – apart from one that I edited which comes out in 2023 – was W. David O. Taylor’s ‘Open and unafraid’. It’s stunning, perhaps especially in hardback, and if commend it to you.
The best book of or based on sermons I read in 2022 was John Webster’s ‘Confronted by Grace’ – this is a marvellous book that showcases Webster’s theological depth and doxological wisdom.
Two Old Testament commentaries stirred my heart this year – among a number of commentaries I read this year. Elaine M. Phillips Obadiah, Jonah and Micah in the AOTC is a genuinely prophetic book. Gordon J. Wenham’s NICOT on Leviticus remains a classic of the genre.
I enjoyed a number of books looking at what it means to be human, from different angles. A particular highlight was Lucy Peppiatt’s Imago Dei – a Cascade Companion that is an excellent overview. More pastorally, or devotionally, Alan Noble’s ‘You Are Not Your Own’ is an excellent unpacking of that complex truth.
Working for a Christian publisher there are lots of things I could but won’t say about books – particularly Christian books. But one highlight was a book edited by a colleague and profoundly unpacking the book of James – David Gibson’s ‘Radically Whole’. From another publisher, and a book I wish we’d published (not that we had the opportunity, but I loved it) is Joy Clarkson’s ‘Aggressively Happy’, a quirky, beautifully written book that I’ve revisited already.
Three of my Top Twenty books were published by our American cousins, IVP USA – in addition to the Noble title above, I really appreciated Tish Harrison Warren’s ‘Prayer in the Night’ (not least as when struck down by Migraines or wallowing in depression, prayer is all I can manage), and the now more than a decade old ‘The Next Evangelicalism’ by Soong-Chan Rah. This is a profound bit of writing that has ‘come true’ in some ways – and not in others.
Finally, three books that I hope and think will shape my reading, editing and writing going forward – in different ways. Tim Chester’s ‘John Stott on the Christian Life’ is a good introduction to Stott’s way of being and doing, and a challenge to learn from a wise departed brother. Mburu’s ‘African Hermeneutics’ was the best of a bunch of strong books I read from Langham Publishing this year – Mburu offers both a good book on hermeneutics, and a good insight into African Christianities, as well as some provocative and generative theological writing. Finally, a Tolkien book – ‘Tree and Leaf’ – which I thoroughly enjoyed and will revisit regularly. I need to reread more Tolkien in 2023.
So that’s my Top Twenty books of 2022 – in the image below you’ll see my Top Ten.