The Best Books I read in 2008

The Best Linguistics Monograph:

Language Typology and Syntactic Description: Volume 1, Clause Structure edited by Timothy Shopen

To be honest, this book along with the other two volumes in the set is more of a reference book than a monograph, but it was really the just the best linguistics book I read in general, monograph or not. I bought it back in March and read it in June. I’ve mentioned it several times over the past months, so I won’t say more here – other than note that Steve describes this set as “one” of six books he would want while stranded on a deserted Island for six months.

The Best Linguistics Reference Book:

The World’s Major Languages edited by Bernard Comrie.

This 1000 page tome is a delightful read providing short (40 pages or so) descriptions of the grammar and phonology of every language that has more than 10 million speakers. My wife and I used the book back in April and May when we were writing our grammar sketch of Russian. Since then I’ve read a few more of the chapters and have enjoyed the chapter on Greek especially, which provides a helpful comparison between Attic Greek and Modern Greek, though not much is said at all about Hellenistic Greek. Even still, its packed full of information about grammar for over 40 languages.

The Best Greek Monograph:

The Morphology of Koine Greek As Used in the Apocalypse of St. John: A Study in Bilingualism (Novum Testamentum , Suppl. 27)by Gerhard Mussies.

I’ve been reading through this book since September and I have been ever impressed with it. The title may suggest that the focus is only on Revelation, but in reality, Mussies covers nearly the entire morphological system of Hellenistic Greek. One cannot study the morphology of Revelation unless one has first studied “normal” morphology first. This is a book that never had the impact that it deserved and its unfortunate that Mussies never wrote the companion volume on Syntax that he had hoped to write.

I really hope that I can find a copy to buy sometime. Amazon only has copies for over $100. The best price I’ve seen in at Barnes & Noble for $77, so if 8 people send me $10 gift certificates (or 16 for $5) to Barnes and Noble for this book, I’ll be able to get it. Remember, my birthday is in March – just think about it…think about it.

The Best Greek Reference Book:

I think that for the foreseeable future, BDAG (Logos; Eisenbrauns) will be the best Greek reference book available. Not much more needs to be said. Perhaps: “Use it.” and “Read it.”

The Best Biblical Studies Monograph:

Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus by Kline Snodgrass

This rather large book tops the charts of Biblical Studies. For why, I point to you Chris Tilling’s review of the book earlier this year.

The Best Biblical Studies Reference Book:

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testamentedited by Carson and Beale

I really don’t think I need to say much on this book. I read through the discussions on Ephesians and 1 Corinthians this year and enjoyed both of them.

The Best NT Commentary:

The Gospel of Matthew by R. T. France

I began reading this commentary in my devotions this year and have three chapters left. France’s emphasis and awareness of the development of the narrative is fantastic. I gave away my copy of his Tyndale commentary on this book, I loved it so much.

The Best OT Commentary:

Psalms, Volume 1 by Gerald H. Wilson

This commentary was completed just before Wilson past away and constitutes the most accessible exposition of his view of the development of the Psalter. The introduction in of itself is worth the price of the book. And his exegesis and exposition are beautiful as well. You can quickly tell that Wilson loved the Psalms. We lost a great scholar with his death.

The Best Novel – English Literature:

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

This was probably the most powerful novel I’ve read in a couple years, though it did not become my favorite – that position is reserved for Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. Even still this is an amazing book that I will probably read again in the near future, simply because its story is powerful and meaningful.

The Best Novel – World Literature:

War and Peaceby Leo Tolstoy

I confess that I have not yet finished this. I’m about half way through and have every intention to complete it. Tolstoy has a brilliant way of creating an entire world in which he enwraps his audience. He’s also my second favorite author with Anna Karenina being my second favorite book of all time. Don’t let the size distract or scare you away; let the story capture you. Let these characters that Tolstoy makes so real draw you into his world.