Two of my five are scholars rather than books so that I can actually name more books than just five. Everything below were books that I read during four years of undergrad and continue with me today. I regularly turn back to all of these books and scholars.
So here are my five in no particular order:
1. Trevor Burke. Dr. Burke is the only professor from my undergrad that I continue to be in contact with. We e-mail each other a few times a year. Rachel and I had him and his family over for dinner during my senior year of college. He challenged me to read and understand Paul as a missionary before we understand him as theologian. Beyond his teaching me classes on Hermeneutics, Greek, and Romans, his writing has also influenced me. His books (authored & edited), Adopted into God’s Family in IVP’s NSBT series & Family Matters: A Socio-Historical Study of Kinship Metaphors in 1 Thessalonians (Journal for the Study of the New Testament)have challenged my thinking about understanding the New Testament church in light of Greco-Roman families, something which has huge implications for how we read the text and how we respond to the text.
But Dr. Burke also introduced me to a vast array of secondary literature, particularly the work of David A. deSilva, whose books on Greco-Roman culture & anthropology gave me an essential set of cultural anthropological categories to read the text through, especially honor & shame and patronage & grace/favor (I love this one in particular – regardless of Loren Rosson’s review of the book on Amazon, which I consider nonsense).
2. Moises Silva. My goodness, where to start. Silva’s Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method transformed how I think about exegesis – and genitives for that matter. He got me away from the grammar categories. His Philippians commentary showed me what it looked like in practice. Biblical Words and Their Meaning was the second linguistic-ish book I ever read and brought to forefront the challenges of semantic issues. And finally, I read Has the Church Misread the Bible? and God, Language, and Scripture during my senior year of college and I cannot recommend either of the books high enough. They are now bound together with four other short books as Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation: Six Volumes in One. I’m telling you Silva is always a feast to read.
3. Max Turner’s book with Peter Cotterell, Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation, introduced me to a whole new world my junior and senior years of college. I read it mainly on the L to church, on buses to coffee shops and then at coffee shops. It was the first step toward my interest in linguistics. In retrospect, I don’t know if necessarily agree with much of the methodology for analysis, particularly componential semantics, but even still, it was the most technical book I had read up to that point. And I would say it is a major reason I am where I am now.
4. Gerald Wilson’s NIVAC commentary on the Psalms has transformed my reading of the Psalms. I’ve greatly appreciated his insights into the structure of the Psalter as well as his exegetical and theological musings on the text itself. I first read it for a paper my senior year for my Psalms class and have enjoyed it ever since. I regularly read a Psalm and Wilson’s thoughts to my wife as we go to sleep. I’m very sad that he passed away. Honorably mentioned for OT studies include Roland Murphy’s The Tree of Life and Bruce Walkte’s Proverbs commentary.
5. Paul Kroeger’s Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics)is the reason that no Greek grammars are on this list. After his book and the class that it was assigned for, I no longer went to Wallace when I had a question or confusion. Instead, I began going directly to the text, analyzing as many examples of the problem construction as I could. The book itself is completely introductory, but it gave me a foundation for grammatical analysis I wouldn’t have been able to find else where and plenty of bibliography for moving forward to more advanced books (working at a specialized linguistics library didn’t hurt either).