Posted by: Billy Marsh | January 9, 2010

Billy’s Favorite 2009 Reading

My reading for 2009 got off to a slow start due to Wyatt’s birth on January 7. Almost all of my leisurely reading disappeared as I scrambled just to get my required reading for seminary completed. I played Mr. Mom from Jan – June  while taking German, Latin, a Ph. D. Systematic reading seminar, and teaching two sections of Classical Greek II while Kim finished out her contract as a teacher with the Crowley school district. I’ve never really recovered from the intensity of my schedule since I went from one wild and crazy regimen to another towards the end of the summer as I began to work nights, teach three courses for the college, and take two Ph. D. seminars. It took me 6 months to read the 200 easy pages of H. Ryder Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines. Likewise, Kim has not had the time to read her usual literary intake. She is reading,  however, and what she is reading I’m sure will be on the list for 2010 (e.g. a great biography on Jane Austen, Kim’s favorite author). Here are my favorite reads across the board from 2009. It was another good year of books, but I wish I could have read more on my own than for school. I only read two fiction books, no Lewis, tid-bits of Tolkien, and I had to drop out of the Schaeffer book club at a time when I was the one who chose what we were going to read. But I’ve had plenty good theology this year, and for that, I can’t complain. I’d love to hear your favorites for this year too so let me know in the comments section.

1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy ~ After picking  up this book due to curiosity, I began reading it around 11pm on January 5, 2009. Sixty pages later I forced myself to go to bed. By ten o’clock the next morning Kim and I were in the hospital awaiting the arrival of our firstborn son. It wasn’t until midnight that Kim started pushing, so I spent the entire day in the labor and delivery room reading McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece. I finished it the next day after Wyatt was born. Like a good movie, my eyes were glued to the pages of the book, and I found myself searching for free moments everywhere I could to pick it back up and join the man and his son on their path for survival. Few other books have penetrated me as deeply as The Road. This work of McCarthy is so unique in a great many ways. The first weekend in December my buddy Ched and I went to see the movie version in Dallas. We both left still immensely moved by the story which actually has more to do with a father/son relationship than it does surviving a post-apocalyptic environment. If I go into detail about the book’s content and its message, I’ll never finish this post. All I can say is that it is clear why The Road won the Putlizer Prize. Do yourself a favor and read this book as soon as possible.

2. Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Approach by Oswald Bayer ~ I love Luther, and if you follow my blog at all, you are more than aware of this fact. There are several good theologies for Luther, but Bayer’s definitely is unique in its own right. I picked up this book to read it and write a review for the SWBTS journal which is still forthcoming. The exercise, however, quickly became much more devotional than academic. Bayer’s presentation of Luther’s theology stands true to the man himself. He sets Luther’s biblical theology in a systematic setting which is different from attempting to turn the German Reformer into a systematic theologian which was something he most certainly was not. Bayer spends a great deal of time on Luther’s theological method, the nature of theology and a theologian, and his doctrine of the Word of God, all of which are especially related to my pastoral and academic interests for the Christian faith. If you have any interest in Luther and desire to take it further, Bayer’s newest addition to this field is in my opinion one of, if not the best, sources for capturing Luther as a theologian and a man of the Word.

3. The Goodly Fellowship of the Prophets: The Achievement of Association in Canon Formation by Christopher R. Seitz ~ I picked up this “bound article” (HT: Dr. Lee) reluctantly while trying to find a book to read in order to fulfill one of the assignments for my Theological Interpretation Ph. D. Seminar this past Fall. I was writing on the Epistle to the Hebrews’ function in the NT canon, but Seitz’s work focuses on the section of the Prophets in the OT. What I found out was that his book was more about its subtitle than its main one. In a nutshell, Seitz is arguing against the grain of the consensus of canon scholarship by demonstrating an integrated “canon consciousness” among the biblical writers and the subsequent communities that received their writings. Therefore, what made its way into the Bible, what was left out, and how the two testaments are arranged is due to theological and canonical deliberation. The notion that there was no canon(or concept of canon) prior to the voting of a fourth century council is extremely minimalistic and inaccurate view of the origin of the Christian Bible. Unlike many of his forerunners and counterparts, Seitz suggests that the concept of canon was present at the inception of the NT hundreds of years prior to its closing. This is a short, provocative treatise on the canon that has the potential upon further development to reign this field back in from its liberal moorings where a high view of Scripture is constantly diminished. If you are at all interested in where our Bible comes from and how it was put together, you must read this book. Although it has its technical parts, there is plenty of laymen-friendly material that is for the most part conceptual and is meant to pique your interest and raise questions concerning the traditional and popularized ways of understanding the canonization of Scripture.



  1. I agree about McCarthy and Seitz, both provocative reads.

    I’ll have to check out Bayer’s book at some point (in all that spare time I have).

    And, don’t try to pass it off on Kim, I know Jane Austen is your favorite author as well.

  2. Don’t make me reveal to the world your secret Twilight obsession.

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