Below is my final list of ‘Must Haves of 2020,’ this list comprised of New Testament-related and theology-related resources that I find important in either furthering discussion about the New Testament in its context or helping the reader approach the text well.

The New Testament Commentary Guide: A Brief Handbook for Students and Pastors

Here is a superb resource that is written in an accessible way and can potentially save you a lot of time, money, and headaches. Navigating the world of commentaries can be tough and one is lucky enough to have informed friends or mentors who can guide you in the right direction. If you’re someone who buys commentaries, get this–it’s a great investment!

Navigating Tough Texts: A Guide to Problem Passages in the New Testament

This one was a blast to read through. Fairly readable and tackling issues from the unforgivable sin to misunderstandings about Mary, I appreciate the author’s to-the-point nature here.

Joel F. Williams commentary on Mark

Joel F. Williams’ commentary on Mark’s Gospel, which is more on the technical side, is a great commentary for those who are already familiar with biblical Greek and want to deepen their understanding of Mark’s Gospel. The homiletical suggestions are extremely helpful and handy for anyone who prepares sermons.

African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation

Lisa Bowens has produced a spectacular resource which captures how Paul has been received by Black American Christians and understood by them. While Paul is sometimes appealed to to support injustices and evils, African-American Christians looked to Paul and found solace and unbelievable relevance in his words. They found in Paul an advocate for the weak and downtrodden, Paul’s letters reflecting the God of radical justice found in the Exodus and in the Old Testament narrative.

Paul and the Language of Faith

Paul and the Language of Faith is a challenge to the way we tend to talk and think about faith within modern evangelicalism and miss out on how pistis was used in the world of antiquity. A reminder to go back to the sources, this book is filled with wisdom from someone well-acquainted with Paul’s letters. Shortly after its release, I was honored to discuss the book with Dr. Gupta (see here for that interview).

Participating in Christ: Explorations in Paul’s Theology and Spirituality

Michael J. Gorman is crediting for coining the term cruciformity, known also for drawing out of Paul’s letters a “mystical” side to Paul that is not always acknowledged. Participating in Christ is a very important book in better understanding union with Christ as well as cruciformity (our co-crucifixion, co-resurrection and co-glorification with Jesus). Gorman’s is a very important voice today when it comes to New Testament studies, in particular the letters of Paul (see here for my recent interview with Gorman on the book).

Paul and the Power of Grace

Paul and the Power of Grace is a tremendous resource for better understanding Paul and the theme of grace in his letters. The word “grace” gets thrown around often with little-to-no thought. This is an important corrective to that, attempting to recover more thoughtfulness in how we use this word.

Michael Bird and Nijay Gupta’s Philippians commentary

I was very excited when hearing about this commentary by two of the best New Testament scholars and was definitely not disappointed. Bird and Gupta are both gifted interpreters of Paul, making their latest commentary a gift to the Church. They both come off as careful not to rush in their exegesis (and application).

Lynn Cohick’s Ephesians commentary

Lynn Cohick is one of the most intriguing voices in the conversation about women in leadership. She also happens to be a very gifted scholar and has come out with a hefty commentary on Ephesians. I cannot praise this commentary enough. Full of insights that will help the reader better enter the world of Ephesus and understand Paul, this is a phenomenal commentary in a great series!

Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction (Second Edition)

A massive book, Evangelical Theology is both in-depth and readable. This is a solid resource on not only what Christians believe but why they believe the things they do. Bird has an uncanny way of slipping humor in and it really (somehow!) works. Brimming over with accessible information about theology (the nature of God’s Word, of God, the doctrine of the Trinity, a great piece on Christ’s humanity and Christ’s mother Mary), Bird has a gift in bringing high and lofty ideas down to everyone’s level.

The Story Retold: A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament

I especially loved both of the author’s treatments of Eden, the Kingdom of God in the Synoptics, and their insights into Revelation. There are also stunning visuals that complement this book, making it great for either leisure reading or more in-depth study.

The Devil’s Redemption (Volume 1) (2020 paperback edition)

I have not been able to delve into volume 2 yet, but volume 1 is a real page turner, documenting universalism throughout church history up until the present time. Modern names such as Barth, Moltmann, and others are brought up; Stott’s conditional immortality and Wright’s views of hell are also hit on. This is a wonderful treatment of universalism in the Church–past and present–showcasing how the Church has unapologetically raised concerns about the doctrine of universalism. For those interested in the topic at hand, I don’t know of another resource as in-depth as The Devil’s Redemption.

Honorable Mentions

Paul’s Works of the Law in the Second Century by Matthew Thomas (see here).

Christopher Hutson has a new commentary out on First and Second Timothy and Titus (see here).

Resurrecting Justice: Reading Romans for the Life of the World (by Douglas Harink) has some intriguing insights on Paul’s use of righteousness/justice (see here).

George Hunsinger’s Philippians commentary has some nice “aha” moments as he ties Paul’s letter to discipleship in the 21st century (see here). Overall this is a good commentary in a series that tends to be more approachable and readable.

Sin and its Remedy in Paul is a great treatment on the nature of sin within Paul’s letters, an intriguing topic in and of itself. This is a collection of essays edited by Nijay Gupta and John Goodrich (see here).