How quickly 2018 is passing! Now that Easter is here, I want to make a list of the books I’ve read or at least explored in recent years, in order to turn back to them when Lent and Easter roll around next year. They have perennial value, well-suited for repeated reading. If you’re looking for something to accompany this season in any year, maybe one of these will interest you, too.
- Malcolm Guite, Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year (2012). Amazon.
- Malcolm’s poems provide meditations for Ash Wednesday (p. 26), the days of Holy Week (pp. 32ff), the Stations of the Cross (pp. 37ff), and Easter dawn (p. 44). Listen to him read them aloud at his blog, where they are republished along with explanatory remarks and artistic drawings or photographs.
- Malcolm Guite, Word in the Wilderness: A Poem a Day for Lent and Easter (2014). Amazon.
- Poems selected from various authors with Malcolm’s illuminating reflections that open up each poem for meditation.
- Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (2003). Amazon.
- Some of my favorites are excerpts from Romano Guardini on Thomas; Pascal on the mystery of Jesus; Wendell Berry on taking up the cross; Henri Nouwen on the Passion; Mother Teresa on thirsting; a John Updike Easter poem; C.S. Lewis on the strangeness of the Resurrection; Malcolm Muggeridge on the defeat of death; Dorothy L. Sayers on the drama of an incarnate and suffering God; Karl Barth on the Resurrection; Philip Yancey on the image of the cross.
- Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (2011). Amazon.
- One of three volumes on the gospels which superbly demonstrate how to combine biblical exegesis and theological reflection. The other two volumes which comprise this trilogy are subtitled The Infancy Narratives and From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration. There may be no more insightful and accessible introduction to the person of Jesus. I recommend every evangelical read it. For me, I regard the volume on the Nativity among my essential annual Advent/Christmas readings.
- Dorothy L. Sayers, The Man Born to be King (Date). Amazon.
- A play of the life of Christ with the artful insight characteristic of Sayers’ notes on Dante. C.S. Lewis read this every year for Lent. Candace read in it this year. It’s #1 on my list for next year.
- Thomas F. Torrance, Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ (2009). Amazon.
- A magisterial synthesis of Trinitarian perspectives on atonement, redemption, reconciliation, the priesthood of Christ, the Resurrection and the Ascension, Pentecost and the Church. This is the second volume in a series on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ; the first volume, Incarnation, makes for great reading at Advent and Christmas.
- Thomas F. Torrance, Space, Time & Resurrection (1976). Amazon.
- A fuller presentation of material discussed in the chapters on the Resurrection and Ascension in The Atonement by Torrance (listed above). Also, indispensable for thinking through the relations between biblical teaching and concepts of space and time in modern science.
- Alan Lewis, Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday (2001). Amazon.
- Thomas F. Torrance called this book “the most remarkable and moving book I have ever read.” Do we need any more reason to read it than that? While writing this book, Lewis, a professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Texas), suffered from cancer which ultimately claimed his life. This is his magnum opus, published posthumously. See the appreciative yet critical response by Lauber (next item, pp. 145ff).
- David Lauber, Barth on the Descent into Hell (2004). Amazon.
- #3 on my Lent and Easter list for next year. Lauber writes (pp. 150-151): “The descent into hell… does not jeopardize the unity of the Godhead… The descent into hell is an instance of God’s self-revelation, in which God reveals himself as love… How does God love the world? God loves the world and humanity by experiencing death in the absence of God and entering hell so that humanity is freed from having to perish, freed from the sentence of the second death, and freed for a future that may only be described with words whose meaning lies beyond the capabilities of human language, i.e., a future that is eternal life.”
- Robert Dale Dawson, The Resurrection in Karl Barth (2007). Amazon.
- Jacket blurbs: By Joseph Mangina: “How does what happened a long time ago in Jesus become real for me? Many modern theologians have answered this question by reflecting on human selfhood. For Karl Barth, it becomes an occasion for a profound series of meditations on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” By John Webster: “As he grew older, Barth was increasingly captivated by one single fact, namely that, by virtue of his resurrection, Jesus Christ is utterly alive, utterly real and limitlessly present: ‘He is the reality!’ This lent an air of cheerfulness, confidence and calm to what he had to say, as well as a pastoral and spiritual helpfulness which no reader ought to miss.”
- Paul Molnar, Incarnation and Resurrection: Toward a Contemporary Understanding (2007). Amazon.
- Starting with Barth, Rahner and Thomas F. Torrance, Molnar considers the views of a variety of theologians in order to explore how “the incarnation and resurrection are so closely related that if one is compromised in the slightest way then so too is the other.” This is #2 on my Lent and Easter reading list for next year.
- Fleming Rutledge, The Undoing of Death: Sermons for Holy Week and Easter (2002). Amazon.
- Forty-one sermons from Palm Sunday through Eastertide. This is #4 on my Lent and Easter reading list for next year.