I have been slow to participate in the latest biblioblog craze, begun by Ken Brown, to list the five books/authors that have most influenced the way you read the Bible. I’m not really a disciple of any one guy, so my influences have been more of a hodge-podge. You have to get this sort of list just right too. Nobody so popular and obvious that its a no-brainer, but you also have to fight the urge to pull out someone obscure just to make yourself look smart. So here is my list in no particular order:
1. John Calvin. What can I say, I’m Dutch Reformed and I’m a Calvinist. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those jerky Calvinists that always wants to debate obscure points of theology, nor do I believe that the study of theology was exhausted by the 17th century. I’ll subsume the other Dutch theologians like Berkouwer and Bavinck under Calvin.
2. James Barr. His earlier work like The Semantics of Biblical Language more than the later foray into Biblical Theology. I also found his books on fundamentalism engaging and insightful, even if overly polemical.
3. Hermann Gunkel. Of all the old critics, I think I like Gunkel the best. He has a good feel for literature, and his study of Genesis is very insightful. I don’t have time for dissecting the text into J7 and E23, etc.
4. Geoffery Khan. For my Semitist I pick Khan. What I like about his work is that he stands in the tradition of Bergsträsser and the like by putting emphasis on the living Semitic languages, such as Neo-Aramaic. What we learn from these languages is the complex relationships between dialects in a living language that are somewhat smoothed out in the literary language of the Bible.
5. W.F. Albright. I don’t know if I have any major views that are “Albrightian”, but his influence on the field is pervasive and his mastery of multiple disciplines is inspiring.