Volume 4 - Issue 1

A guide to bibliographical sources

By Jim Mynors

Whether one is trying to decide what to consult for an essay, what books to recommend to a college or university library, or what to buy for one’s own, reading-guides seem in much shorter supply than books and articles themselves. There are, however, a number of ways to find help in such situations, as these notes are designed to suggest. They are in no way intended to be comprehensive, but are particularly designed to aid those trying to find conservative evangelical scholarship to supplement what can be discovered from other sources.

  1. TSF publications

Themelios readers have recently had the benefit of a two-part Bibliographical Guide to the Study of the Reformation by A. Skevington Wood in 2/2 (25p) and 3/2 (30p)—both still available. But in future it is planned that such guides should be produced separately (e.g. by the TSF in Britain and in North America) rather than as part of Themelios. A number of these are already available and are advertised in the pull-out catalogue supplement entitled Now Available from TSF and sent automatically with this issue to all current Themeliossubscribers. Others may obtain an up-to-date edition of this catalogue from the addresses for orders on page 2. TSF in Britain can also supply at 2p per page xeroxed copies of more specialized out-of-print bibliographies, e.g. (i) five first produced by the Graduates Fellowship Theological Studies Group: The Church (8 pp.), The Work of the Holy Spirit (9 pp.), Authority and Christianity (5 pp.), Man and the Creator (6 pp.), an Annotated Ethics Reading List (6 pp.). (ii) Two Church History Surveys from the TSF Bulletin: The Early Church to the Middle of the Fifth Century (Issues 59–60, 8 pp.) and The Evangelical Revival and the Modern Church (Issue 63, 5 pp.).

  1. Journals

The book review sections of various evangelical journals are the best way of keeping up to date, short of actually writing to publishers for their catalogues. Those in Themelios and TSF Bulletin back numbers should need no mention, but the Churchman, Evangelical Quarterly, Journal of the Evangelical Society and Westminster Theological Journal are all worth consulting. Christianity Today also publishes an annual survey of the best books. Addresses of these and others are included in the TSF’s List of Societies and Publications.

  1. Basic reference books

A frequently overlooked bibliographical source for books on Christian Doctrine is T. C. Hammond’s In Understanding Be Men, sixth edition revised by David Wright (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1968). More detailed references can be found in systematic theologies like that of L. Berkhof (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). Similar sources in other fields should be well known, like the four major ones published by IVP in Britain and IVP or Eerdmans in North America: J. Douglas (ed.), New Bible Dictionary; D. Guthrie (ed.), New Bible Commentary Revised; D. Guthrie, New Testament Introduction; R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament. Also worth consulting is G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament(Guildford: Lutterworth; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974). It should, however, be borne in mind that whereas some of the TSF reading lists are quite deliberately designed to draw attention to books by conservative evangelicals, these last five give a far more balanced coverage than similar works by many so-called ‘liberals’!

  1. Older books about books

W. J. Grier has written The Best Books, A Guide to Christian Literature (Banner of Truth, 1968). This is a useful corrective for those tempted to think that evangelical theology really only got off the ground in this decade. And, though it will provide little direct help with the kinds of essays most theological students have to write today, it recommends a number of books that prospective ministers would find far more use in purchasing (e.g.secondhand) than many better known today.

Also apparently dated, but still worth consulting, are A. F. Walls’s Guide to Christian Reading (London: IVF, 1962), 160 pp., and Harish D. Merchant’s Encounter with Books (Downers Grove: IVP, 1970), 262 pp., both out of print, but on many bookshelves of ministers and others. All these three cover OT and NT study, Church History, Doctrine, Apologetics and Ethics.

For those wanting a thorough guide to commentaries of the nineteenth century and earlier, C. H. Spurgeon’s classic, Commenting and Commentaries, has been very usefully condensed into a little booklet, A Guide to Commentaries (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth).

Jim Mynors