Library suggestions for leaders — Bible

booksI’ve been asked by several people to suggest some helpful reading on various ministry- related topics. Here’s an attempt at the books I most highly recommend in these areas, along with some that have come most highly recommended to me.

I write this with many of my own leaders in mind, so these lists assume I’m talking to bright, interested people, but not scholars or seminarians, necessarily. With that, I’m looking for works that I can feel confident putting in the hands of most of my people.

These suggestions are intended to give you a start. I’m not providing a full analysis here. Take a look at their tables of contents, sample some pages, and read some reviews to get a better feel for which is right for you. And, of course, I’m happy to talk to you more about what you’re looking for and what might be best.

Understanding the Biblical Narrative

For an introduction to the larger narrative of Scripture — something to give you a better handle on how the whole Scripture story weaves together, these two books will serve you very well:

Those are relatively short works. For a more detailed introduction, take a look at Introducing the Bible by John Drane. It’s big (736 pp.), but very reader friendly. You can also use the OT and NT sections in this as your introductory surveys for those areas.

Old Testament

For a general introduction to the Old Testament, these two books are where I’d start:

Relating the Old Testament to modern Christian ethical concerns is an ongoing challenge. If you’re dealing with those concerns, I’d suggest Old Testament Ethics for the People of God by Christopher J. H. Wright. It’s another big book, but very accessible. And though it’s worth reading front to back, you can also use it to just read up on a particular area.

New Testament

Whereas the Old Testament setting spans centuries – millennia even – the New Testament setting spans only a few decades. Because of that, it has been a bit easier for people to ask what “the setting” of the New Testament was. I’d go to a few books to help me understand that setting:

For a more standard survey of the New Testament, I might start with Mark Allan Powell’s Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey.

And for all those tough ethical conundrums (divorce and remarriage, homosexual practice, abortion, violence, women in ministry) that we go to the New Testament hoping to understand, the book to go to is The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction To New Testament Ethics by Richard Hays. He says you should read it in order – not jumping to the specific topics – and it’s probably better that way, but I think some of the individual chapters on various topics are quite good on their own. And his five pages on sharing possessions in the conclusion are perhaps the best part of the whole book.

General Bible Study

We struggle to understand how to go about reading and studying the Bible. Fortunately, there are some books out that I think are outstanding resources:

There’s a running start at some resources concerning the Bible. I’ll have future posts on theology, pastoral care, worship, discipleship & spiritual formation, Church history, and church & society issues. I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions about this list or future lists.


  • I have read most, but not all of these. Those I haven’t read, I’ve skimmed through enough and heard enough good things from trusted people that I can recommend them with confidence.
  • All Amazon links are affiliate links. Feel free to buy wheresoever you please.

2 thoughts on “Library suggestions for leaders — Bible

  1. Thank you for this list. I’m a commissioned Wesleyan minister and retired scientist, hoping to do a MA in theology. Love to read, building my library, always looking for good leads, especially in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition.

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