The resources here are all about biblical interpretation - how to determine what the biblical authors intended to communicate to their original audiences. These resources will explore the history, culture, language and politics of the ancient world and guide you in how to apply that knowledge to reading scripture. It is probably my favorite subject on earth, but I'll try to keep the list manageable!
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Harper Collins NRSV Study Bible - Student Edition
Good biblical study begins with a first-rate study Bible and I think this is the one. (We give one to every graduating high school senior at Canvas.) The NRSV is the most overall reliable translation, and the study notes from the Society of Biblical Literature are second to none. If you are going to read the Bible, read this one. (And I recommend it in hardback as it holds up much better than paperback.)
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart
Once you have a great study Bible, the next step is to learn to process of exegesis (critical interpretation). Like any skill, it must be learned and practiced, and there are no better guides than Fee and Stuart. Both are world-class biblical scholars who will walk you through the classical exegetical method that has developed over millennia. This should be a required reading of anyone who owns a Bible!
Jesus and the Victory of God by N.T. Wright
This book, perhaps more than any other (ever) changed my life. Yup...it's long (but you can skip Part 1, and that saves you 146 pages right there!). But it's the pinnacle of biblical interpretation. Wright is a history-level genius and this book changed the course of NT scholarship. If you were to read one book about Jesus ever, make it the Bible. If you were going to read a second, make it this one. It is stunningly easy to read given its level of academic brilliance, and it is unparalleled in its interpretive accuracy (yup, I've personally checked many of the footnotes...Wright is right). Seriously, this is a must-read. But if the length is jus too intimidating, start with his shorter: The Challenge of Jesus. It's the much-abridged version and will hook you.
Paul: A Biography by N.T. Wright
This is so much more than a traditional biography, it is a step inside the life and mind of the author of roughly half the New Testament. It was just released and is the book I wish I'd had access to 30 years ago. It is adapted from Wright's more intimidating (albeit brilliant and entirely worth owning!): Paul and the Faithfulness of God. It is a stunning achievement and will change how you read the NT forever!
Introducing the New Testament by Achetemeier et al.
Academic "introductions" are where you find all the helpful background you need to provide context to your reading (think of them as study notes on steroids). You'll find book introductions, outlines, maps, illustrations, historical details... This volume by Achtemeier et al. is filled with recent scholarship and very approachable - finding a nice balance between academics and readability. (For comparison, I also really like Raymond Brown's Introduction to the New Testament as well!)
The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham
No book in the Bible is more regularly misunderstood than the book of Revelation. This is doubly tragic, as how one understands the end of a story greatly influences how they read the rest of it. In this stunningly short and readable book, eminent NT scholar Richard Bauckham unveils the symbolism of John's vision and reveals a deeply moving call to trust in the love of God amidst fear and suffering. This, too, is on my must-read list.