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Besides the Bible: 100 Books that Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture Paperback – November 17, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...a remarkable resource for the spiritual formation...The books they commend are almost always thoughtful and important, and the way they write about them is compelling and enjoyable." --Hearts and Minds Bookstore, Best Books of 2010

"[Besides the Bible] offers a superb list of recommendations...If one were to read all 100 titles, he/she would be superbly equipped to understand not only Western culture, but also the church's role within it." --Englewood Review of Books

"The premise is rather simple, but its total message is priceless. Every Christian should have this resource." --Michael D. Bobo, Christian Literature Examiner

"...each person I have shown this book to has gotten excited about it. That's what this book is all about - taking [Christianity's] dying literary tradition and reviving the art of thought and conversation." --Relevant Magazine

About the Author

Dan Gibson is a writer, editor, and researcher living in Tucson, Arizona. He is married, has two children, and manages an amateur soccer club, Sparklemotion. A Facebook group created in his honor has over 30 members.

Jordan Green is from Portland, Oregon. He is the Editor-in-Chief of BurnsideWriters.com. Besides editing and writing, Jordan has also worked as a courier, a barista at a large coffee purveyor, and as a US Army Counterintelligence Agent, among other things. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Mindy and his daughter Lana Gwendolyn Rose.

John Pattison is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in the Burnside Writers Collective, where he serves as Deputy Editor, as well as in newspapers around the country. He is a regular contributor to Relevant Magazine and Relevant Online. He lives in Oregon's Willamette Valley with his wife, Kate, and his daughter, Molly. There is a pond next to their house with fish, ducks, geese, and a mythical beaver that no human has ever seen.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Biblica; First Edition edition (November 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606570919
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606570913
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,310,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Larry Shallenberger on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let's get this out of the way quickly. My objectivity regarding this book is compromised from the outset. The primary authors of this book John Pattison, Jordan Green, and Dan Gibson are the primary visionaries, gatekeepers and stewards of The Burnside Writer's Collective, which is where I submit a lot of my essays. So writing a positive review of this book could be seen as the equivalent of letting my boss win at golf. I'm also one of the guest essayists. So, me endorsing the book is like the Pravda endorsing Lenin or Itunes endorsing Lennon.

Now that I've gotten my disclaimers out of the way ( F.C.C. disclosure: I will be receiving a complimentary copy of the book and I may be allow to continue writing at Burnside, but I am sure there is no correlation.) let's just say that this is an outstanding volume. Beside the Bible is an attempt to identify the 100 most important books that Christians should read, other than the Bible. The reader should consider this book a field guide for Christian thought, and the thought that sprung up in response and protest to Christianity.

Distilling 2,000 years of faith into a mere one hundred books is a high bar. That's letting a single volume into the fold for every two centuries. I'm sure John, Jordan, and Dan are grateful for the relatively late introduction of the printing press and high illiteracy rates of the Dark Ages before that. Even so, there's an inherent tension in the list. It's inevitable that worthy books were omitted and that questionable books wormed their way in their cannon. I'm expecting a lively conversation to break out over what books have and are defining Christian thought. This would be a welcome conversation.
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Format: Paperback
Any list of the 100 books most influential to Christianity outside of the Bible is ripe for debate, and the conversation this book creates is a lot of fun. They pick the books they like, not the expected ones, which adds to the fun. It works, because they like good, interesting books, and because they don't try to hide their personal favoritisms. These guys are evangelicals who have branched out in interesting ways and dig the "Emergent" crowd. That's OK, because it's made obvious, and because they want to open up a conversation not only about the books they pick but also about the picks themselves.

So, as another evangelical who's branched out in lots of ways, but more as a mainline Protestant and early Christianity guy, here's my contribution: First, "Mere Christianity" belongs in there. It gets mentioned in at least three essays and they take space to explain why they didn't include it. "The Year of Living Biblically" has created Christian culture more than "Mere Christianity"? Please! I can see how "Screwtape" gets off the list, but this is a major mistake.

Second, if you put Donald Miller, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and all that crowd in there, how do you have nothing from Henri Nouwen, Barbara Brown Taylor, Will Willimon, or Frederick Buechner? These have been read by many more folks than the Emergent folks, but they're more popular with mainline Protestant readers. They should have thrown at least one bone.

"The Life of St. Anthony" belongs in there, and probably "On the Incarnation," too. Hard to say they have been less influential than a lot of books that made the list. These are accessible and engaging classics, too. "The Shack" is so new that it's hard to know its influence.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Besides the Bible poses the intention of introducing readers to a collection of books--both secular and religious/sacred--that best frame the status of modern Christianity--modern in the sense of pertaining to the first decade 2000. Three co-authors supported by outside collaboration vary in their presentations as they sometimes provide brief book reviews, personal testaments of the books' relevance, histories, and appraisals of Christianity and the Church.

While this understated description posits the book as a kind of "The Christian's Version of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die--Except a Heck of a lot Shorter," the book far supersedes such a classification. In reality it reads more like a philosophical treatise for, without any references to outside works, one would quickly arrive at the assumption that s/he was reading a groundbreaking work of staggering genius that set out to reappraise the basic tenets of Christianity.

Readers will likely react differently to the various proposals, discarding some without a second's consideration, voraciously consuming others over and over, and sometimes finding familiar references. Really the read is like a tug-of-war-contest with one's consent and beliefs--at times oscillating to vehement denial or consent, and other times finding the perfect in between of, "I read that one and loved it: now I know why."
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Format: Paperback
I'll keep this review short and simple. After reading Besides The Bible, all you'll want to do is visit the library or book store and get home to read. All three authors have succeeded in peaking my interest by writing concise, compelling essays about books I am now excited about. I guess you could say, this is a great beginning.
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