Top 10 books for NT graduate students

(Frank Dicken, Ph.D. Candidate)  Every Tuesday a group of postgraduate students in New Testament studies meets in an informal reading group to discuss a piece of secondary literature that is related to the field. For example, we are currently reading Conversion by A.D Nock (as recommended by Prof. Hurtado). In the recent past we have read The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies by Michael Legaspi and Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul by Richard Hays. Occasionally, as the professors here at Edinburgh write and publish they are asked to meet with the group and discuss their work with us. In the past year we have examined The Earliest Christian Artifacts with Prof. Hurtado and Dr. Bond shared a pre-publication version of her upcoming book on the historical Jesus. As students, we are all researching and writing very focused theses and view the reading group as an important time to become acquainted with the wider field of NT studies.

At the conclusion of our meeting several weeks ago, we began thinking out loud about a list of works we considered among the most significant in the field for us to know. We decided that it would be informative to ask our professors, “If you had to name ten books that any Ph.D. graduate in NT ought to know, what would they be?” Here are their responses:

Dr. Paul Foster

1.       Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th ed.

2.        Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament

3.        Raymond E. Brown, Introduction to the New Testament

4.        B.H. Streeter, The Four Gospels

5.        John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (4 vols.)

6.        E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism

7.        W.D. Davies and Dale Allison, Matthew (3 vols.)

8.        James D.G. Dunn, Romans (2 vols.)

9.        Georg Strecker, Theology of the NT

10.     Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle

11.     Rudolf Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition


Dr. Helen Bond

1.        James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament, 3rd ed.

2.        Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her

3.        E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism

4.        John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (4 vols.)

5.        Dale Allison, Constructing Jesus

6.        Martin Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism

7.        John M. G. Barclay, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora

8.        E. P. Sanders, Judaism: Practice and Belief

9.        E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism

10.     Donald Juel, Messiah and Temple: The Trial of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark


Prof. Larry Hurtado

1.        Wilhelm Bousset, Kyrios Christos

2.        Rudolf Bultmann, New Testament Theology

3.        Wayne A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians

4.        E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism

5.        Albert Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical Jesus

6.        Adolf Deissman, Light from the Ancient Near East

7.        E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism

8.        Martin Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism

9.        Stephen Neil and N.T. Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861–1986

10.     Oscar Cullmann, Christology of the New Testament


Dr. Matthew Novenson

1.        Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity

2.        Ferdinand Christian Baur, Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ

3.        Rudolf Bultmann, New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings

4.        Wayne A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians

5.        Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament

6.        E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism

7.        Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Rev. and ed. by Geza Vermes and Fergus Millar

8.        Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her

9.        Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus

10.     David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined


If you are familiar with the work of these professors, you know that each list is somewhat reflective of their interests. Also, aside from Dr. Foster’s rightful insistence that a NT scholar ought to have read the NT in Greek, we asked that they focus on secondary literature. Each professor would emphasize the importance of familiarity with the primary sources related to the study of the NT: Old Testament, Apocryphal/Deutero-canonical and Pseudepigraphal texts, Apostolic Fathers, Second Temple Jewish literature, Josephus, Philo, etc.


What are your thoughts about the works listed here? What texts would you add? We’d like to hear from you, so feel free to comment below.


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