Tips for Building Your Own Theological Library

Many of you love to read. That’s partly why you are here. I imagine you probably also like to read about theology, ministry, the Bible, etc…which is also why you are here.

Over the years there have been a few things I have found helpful when making selections of which books to buy for my personal study and for my ministry. Here are some of the best tips I can offer plus a bonus video outlining specific books I would recommend to get started without spending an arm and a leg.

Here we go…

First, take your time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Study will take years and you can only use so many books at a time. Don’t feel a rush to buy dozens of books at a time.

Second, don’t just look at books from within Churches of Christ. It can be too myopic and some of the best scholarship doesn’t come from within our ranks.

Third, be picky. Buy from the best scholars.

Fourth, don’t buy whole sets with a couple of exceptions. The “For Everyone” series would be an exception. Commentary series have good volumes and bad volumes. No one series has all good volumes.

Fifth, don’t buy from all one author. Don’t buy whole sets by one person (again, For Everyone is the exception). I see the Coffman commentaries on a regular basis. Here is the issue – no one person can be an expert in everything. This limits the quality of the entire work.

Sixth, pay attention to who others recommend. See BestCommentaries.com for some recommendations or ask someone you trust. Feel free to ask in the comments.

Seventh, Bible study is far more than buying commentaries. There are OT and NT intros, Theologies, Historical Background resources, original language resources, English translations, etc.

Eighth, look online for free resources. You will be surprised how much is available free online. Search for things and add pdf in your search and see what comes up. Check out Rob Bradshaw’s work. He has digitized a lot of resources from some of the best scholars in the world, all free!

Ninth, invest in some Bible study software like Logos. It is worth your time and money. Then spend some time learning the system. YouTube is your friend.

Tenth, you need specific recommendations…so here is a start!

Last, give us your best tip in the comments!

3 Responses to Tips for Building Your Own Theological Library

  1. Terry Bouchelle says:

    I use the Olive Tree App., the app. itself is free (it comes with some older bible commentaries) then you only pay for the books you buy. It is much better than the free Logos app. I use my Logos app to buy commentaries, translations, etc. Then using a split screen I have both. I also have Laridian’s PocketBible but it has proven somewhat unmanageable to me.

  2. James says:

    Logos tip, I’ve sometimes gotten good deals when upgrading on other fellowships’ packages. For example, the Anglican set included the For Everyone series and several of N.T. Wright’s other works, and was less than buying the books alone. Also, they have very good free books and commentaries in their free book of the month offering.

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