Honor Roll

The books listed below have had the most profound influence on my thinking in my adult years (1987 and following). I chose not to include classics here, since they don’t reflect the temper of the age I grew up in and was influenced by. I wanted to narrow my list to contemporary titles and authors to see what, if any, trends emerged. It’s nice to see, for instance, how prominent university press titles are in the list. The titles are arranged in descending order of publication date, even though I frequently didn’t encounter a title until several years later.

Christian History and Theology

  • Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts by Harry Y. Gamble (Yale UP, 1995)
  • The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation—A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics by Richard B. Hays (HarperOne, 1996)
  • The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel by Robert Alter (W. W. Norton, 1999; now contained in his expanded book Ancient Israel)
  • The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God by Robert Louis Wilken (Yale UP, 2003)
  • The Reformation: A History by Diarmaid MacCulloch (Viking, 2004)
  • Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament by Peter Enns (Baker Academic, 2005)
  • Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham (Eerdmans, 2006)
  • Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible by Karel van der Toorn (Harvard UP, 2007)
  • Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies by David Bentley Hart (Yale UP, 2009)
  • God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero (HarperOne, 2010)
  • Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time by Sarah Ruden (Pantheon, 2010)
  • The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter (2nd edition; Basic Books, 2011)
  • Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat (Free Press, 2012)
  • The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss by David Bentley Hart (Yale UP, 2013)

History and Culture

Literature and Literary History

  • Anglomania: A European Love Affair by Ian Buruma (Random House, 1999)
  • Boswell’s Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson by Adam Sisman (FSG, 2001)
  • The Collected Stories of Richard Yates by Richard Yates (Holt, 2001)
  • Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (FSG, 2004)
  • The Annotated Waste Land with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose by T. S. Eliot, edited by Lawrence Rainey (Yale UP, 2005)
  • Friendship: An Exposé by Joseph Epstein (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006)
  • The Dream of the Celt: A Novel by Mario Vargas Llosa (FSG, 2012)


  • Mind: A Brief Introduction by John R. Searle (Oxford UP, 2004)
  • A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny (Oxford UP, 2010)
  • Love: A History by Simon May (Yale UP, 2011)


  • Downing Street Years and The Path to Power by Lady Margaret Thatcher (HarperCollins, 1993 and 1995)
  • The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Scepticism by Michael Oakeshott (Yale UP, 1996)
  • The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life by Kenneth Minogue (Encounter, 2010)
  • Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray (Crown Forum, 2012)

Natural History and Science

  • The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker (Viking, 2002)
  • The Triumph of the Embryo by Lewis Wolpert (Oxford, 1991)
  • Full Moon by Michael Light (Knopf, 1999)
  • In the Womb: Witness the Journey from Conception to Birth by Peter Tallack (National Geographic Books, 2006)
  • Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas by Sylvia A. Earle and Linda K. Glover (National Geographic Books, 2008)
  • Embryo: A Defense of Human Life by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen (Doubleday, 2008)


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