As a Bible nerd who is also a book nerd, I really love books about the Bible! In today’s post, I’m sharing 9 books that I have found really helpful and have added to my personal reference library. If you’re also a Bible and book nerd, maybe you’ll enjoy adding some new-to-you titles to your own shelves!
One thing I do want to mention about my reference library. One result of Bible study is the development of discernment. This is when you’re able to recognize and make decisions about what’s right and wrong. When reading from various authors who come from a tapestry of theological and denominational backgrounds, you start (should start) to develop a muscle for understanding where you agree or disagree with what you’re reading. I don’t agree with every single author about every single thing they write. I exercise discernment that I’ve developed (and continue to develop as I mature) to make decisions about what I’ll use and what I’ll leave alone.
As you choose and read books, make sure you have your thinking cap on and don’t just take every word as gospel. Pray about it, do your own research in the Bible, ask questions, compare it with what you’re learning in church and from people in your real life that you trust. Wrestling with truth takes work and I think it’s super important work because when you come finally come to a conclusion, you’ll be better at sharing, discussing, teaching, and defending that truth.
Okay, now for the books.
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Women of the Word
This book got me started on my adult Bible nerd journey. In a lot of ways, it lit the fire that I needed to take my upbringing and all that I’d learned up til then, to the next level. Jen Wilkin’s voice, her style, her passion, and her humility, really make me want to do the hard work of digging deep into the Bible for everything God has to offer us. If you’re just starting out in Bible study, I highly recommend this book to get you started!
How to Study Your Bible
I constantly referenced this book while researching for the How to Study Your Bible Masterclass. It’s a classic on the topic of Bible study. This book will take you step by careful step through the points of inductive Bible study. In Women of the Word, Wilkin recommends it as a help for developing a study method on her resource list. I would actually recommend this book right after Women of the Word as the next stop on your journey.
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
This is another book that I used for the How to Study Your Bible Masterclass research. This book covers rules of interpretation for the different genres of biblical literature. I’d say it’s an intermediate level book. It’s practical and a great resource to have for your Bible study.
The Bible Handbook
I absolutely love this book! Not only is it gorgeous, it’s such a helpful resource! It outlines every book of the Bible, highlights themes, and even has beautiful maps, timelines, charts and diagrams. This is a great addition to your library especially if you don’t have a study Bible – this has much of the great reference material that you would find in a good study Bible. The Daily Grace Co. hit it out of the park with this beautiful book!
I absolutely love having a Bible dictionary on my shelf! The Nelson Illustrated Bible Dictionary is the one I have but I’ve heard the Zondervan Bible dictionary is also good. You can look up pretty much any term found in or related to the Bible. I love looking at the photos, drawings, and maps. It makes what I read in the Bible feel just a bit more real and concrete. Sure, there’s always Google, and thank God for that! But if you are able to, I highly recommend adding a Bible dictionary to your library – you won’t regret it!
ESV Bible Atlas
Along with my Bible dictionary, I’ve also really enjoyed my Bible atlas. There are so many maps and illustrations that can’t fit in the back of a Bible. Knowing about landscape of ancient civilizations is so helpful when reading all the stories in the Bible. The ESV Bible Atlas is the one I own but I have also heard that the Holman Bible Atlas is also very good!
Literarily: How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study
I don’t recommend books that I haven’t read but this book just came out, I just got it, and it’s endorsed by people I trust so I couldn’t leave this off the list. Understanding biblical genre is sooooooooooooooo incredibly important when studying scripture. Kristie Anyabwile goes through each literary genre and talks about how understanding it transforms our Bible study. I’m several pages in and I think it’s going to be a mainstay in my reference library.
Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible
I recommended this book in the post about picking a translation but I wanted to go ahead and highlight this one again because I think that it’s so helpful for anyone who wants to know more about how we should view and use the King James Bible. If you have any questions about the KJV and modern translations, this is the place to start. Mark Ward is a pastor who was raised on and still loves and uses the good ol’ KJV but is honest about some of the challenges we face as modern readers. This book is a totally accessible, well-thought out, easy read and I HIGHLY recommend it – especially if you’re having conversations about Bible versions and you want solid information about the topic.
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
This book is such a great read! Many of us don’t often think about how the modern, western lenses we view the Bible through really skew our understanding of what’s really going on in this ancient text. The Bible tells us of different times and places and cultures. And while it is a timeless book, we do need to consider the culture that it originally lives in so that we can understand it the way God intended. I definitely recommend this book and the follow up to it – Misreading Scripture with Individualist Eyes: Patronage, Honor, and Shame in the Biblical World.
Is the Bible Good for Women?
I bought this book on clearance one day because the title intrigued me. I read it and felt like I had such a better foothold to tackle some of the really difficult questions that come up when talking about the Bible. Questions about justice and rights for women and what do we do with passages about the rape and abuse of women. This isn’t an end all be all book on hard questions regarding women and the Bible but man, it’s a great jumping off point for more study. This is one of those books where I didn’t necessarily agree with every conclusion the author makes (simply because we have different theological backgrounds) but I really appreciated the well-constructed arguments and presentation. It’s a really helpful book for some pretty hard passages and topics.
What books have helped you in your Bible study? Do you have any recommendations for me? I’d love to read them in the comments below!
All of these books, except the Bible Handbook, are available on Amazon and you can check out this list in my Amazon store here!