APOLOGETICS & CRITICAL THINKING

Apologetics (from the Greek apologia, 'speaking in defence') is the rational defence of Christianity.

This typically involves the justification of Christian claims in response to non-Christian critiques.

Critical thinking is the process of rationally and objectively evaluating information and argumentation.

It requires intellectual honesty and a degree of scepticism.


Recommended:

Burke, Living on the Edge, 2014

Burke, Burke, Gilmore & Matthiesen, Defence & Confirmation, 2014—

Casey, Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?, 2014

Cook & Lewandowsky, The Debunking Handbook, 2012

Craig, Reasonable Faith, 2008

Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, 2013

Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion, 2002

Gaston, Ed., Reasons, 2011

Gaston, Ed., More Reasons, 2014

Geisler, Baker Encyclopaedia of Christian Apologetics, 1999

Habermas & Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, 2004

Hannam, God’s Philosophers, 2011

Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, 2009

McGrath & McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion, 2007

Numbers, et al., Galileo Goes to Jail, 2009

SOCIO-HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The inspired writers produced 'high context' literature in which cultural knowledge is frequently assumed.

The gulf between their knowledge and ours has serious implications for interpretation.

To bridge this gap we need resources that explain the world of the Ancient Near East as the Bible's original audience perceived and experienced it.


Recommended:

Barrick, et al., Old Testament Cultural Practices Collection, 1984-2005.

DeSilva, Honour, Patronage, Kinship & Purity, 2000.

Fox, Pagans and Christians, 2006.

Hall, Beyond Culture, 1976.

Klauck, The Religious Context of Early Christianity, 2000.

Pilch, A Cultural Handbook to the Bible, 2012.

Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, 2006.

EXEGESIS

Exegesis is the process of drawing out an interpretation from the text.

This necessitates a careful examination of language, genre and context in combination with a sound methodology.

I recommend a narrative approach following the historical-grammatical method, which seeks the author's intended message to his original audience.


Recommended:

Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 1996.

DeMoss, Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek, 2001.

Grenz, Guretzki & Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, 1999.

Kaiser & Silva, An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, 2007.

Klein, Blomberg & Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 2004.

Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 2006.

Patzia & Petrotta, Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies, 2002.

EARLY CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

Most disputes of the early Christian era concerned the nature and identity of Jesus Christ.

They occurred within the context of intense cultural, political and theological conflict over a period of several centuries.

The doctrine of the Trinity was a product of these debates, reaching its final form in the 5th Century AD.


Recommended:

Bercot, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, 1998.

Dunn, Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?, 2010.

Ferguson, et al., New Dictionary of Theology, 1988.

Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, 2006.

Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 2006.

Pelikan, Credo, 2005.

Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God, 2000.

Williams, Arius: Heresy and Tradition, 2009.

EARLY CHRISTIAN HISTORY

Christianity changed rapidly and radically in the post-apostolic era.

A basic knowledge of early Christian history will greatly improve your understanding of these doctrinal and ecclesiastical developments, and the influences that drove them.


Recommended:

Chadwick, The Early Church, 1993.

Davidson, The Birth of the Church, 2005.

Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils, 327-787, 1992.

Frend, The Early Church: From the beginnings to 461, 1982.

Frend & Stevenson, Creeds, Councils and Controversies, 2011.

Frend & Stevenson, A New Eusebius, 2013.

Hall, Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church, 2011.

STUDY BIBLES

A study Bible contains reference and research tools which help to clarify the text and provide background knowledge on specific subjects.

Such tools include glossaries, maps, synopses, timelines, information on textual variants, biographies of Bible characters, scholarly footnotes, and cross-references.

A good study Bible has clear, detailed maps.

A good study Bible has clear, detailed footnotes.

A good study Bible is accurately translated.

The NET Bible is a good study Bible.

COMMENTARIES

A commentary is a book (or series of books) that discusses the biblical text.

Use of commentaries can greatly improve biblical knowledge and exegetical technique.

The function of a commentary is to inform your understanding. It is a study aid, not a study substitute.


Recommended:

Allen, et al., New International Commentary on the Old & New Testaments, 1974-2012.

Allen, et al., Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, 2011-2013.

Bauckham, et al., Word Biblical Commentary, 1989-2006.

Bock, et al., Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 1992-2010.

Carson, New Testament Commentary Survey, 2007.

Carson, et al., New Bible Commentary, 1994.

Carson, et al., Pillar New Testament Commentary, 1988-2010.

Garland & Longman III, Expositor's Bible Commentary, 2006-2012.

Smith, Old Testament Survey Series, 1993.

Utley, Bible Lessons International, 1997-2004.

Walton, Matthews & Chavalas, IVP Background Commentary: Old/New Testament, 2000.

Wiseman & Morris, Tyndale Commentaries, 2000.

Other suggestions can be found at Best Commentaries.