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Summer Reading List: Purposeful Habits, The Abuse of Power, Pauline Studies

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What books should you put on your summer reading list? We asked Intersect contributors this question, and we’ve been sharing their recommendations in recent weeks.

Today, Intersect contributors highlight books on creating purposeful habits, stewarding power and studying the Apostle Paul.

Editor’s Note: You can download two Intersect-exclusive ebooks from Bruce Ashford for free. Details>>


The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction
by Justin Whitmel Earley (IVP, 2019)

Brittany Salmon

Brittany Salmon: We live in a society where overbooked calendars, achievement and stress are all signs of a productive and valuable life — and it’s killing our souls. If this is you and you’re tired of a busy lifestyle and in desperate need of intentionality, this book is for you.

Earley has written a helpful book on the art of choosing intentionality over spinning your wheels, community over shallow connection and purpose over mindless productivity. The Common Rule offers four daily and four weekly habits that will reshape the way you do life and keep your eyes fixed on what’s most important in life. It’s a quick read, and a great one to read in community, so grab this book for your family and friends today to reshape the culture of your community. 

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
by Robert A. Caro (Vintage, 1975)

Daniel Pandolph

Daniel Pandolph: Caro may be the best living biographer. He has spent his entire life detailing people with immense power — and how they often abuse it. The use and abuse of those in power is an area I think those in ministry need to consider carefully. While they may never achieve the same level of power as say Robert Moses or Lyndon B. Johnson (both men Caro has spent an enormous amount of time profiling), they still possess a great deal.

In The Power Broker, Caro traces the life of Robert Moses who had great intentions to help those in a broken system–only to eventually use the system to do horrific things. It is a MASSIVE book (1100+ pgs) but fascinating and thought provoking. 

Studying Paul’s Letters with the Mind and Heart
by Gregory MaGee (Kregel Academic, 2018)

Gregory Lamb

Greg Lamb: I recommend this book for three primary reasons. First, this book is accessible—both in terms of style and price. Magee presents a clear, lucid writing style and adroit explanation of key technical issues regarding Paul and his letters in layman’s terms. Busy pastors and poor seminary students will not break the budget purchasing this book.

Second, this book is approachable in its size. Unlike the “Keener-esque” Pauline theologies by Udo Schnelle (2003; 695 pp.), N. T. Wright (2013; 1660 pp.) and E. P. Sanders (2015; 862 pp.),  Magee’s work consists of 215 pp. and gives busy students/pastors a helicopter view of the contours of Paul’s theological thought world and zooms into a worm’s-eye view of the crisp details as needed.

Third, Magee offers an innovative approach to Paul in that Magee simultaneously offers an introduction to Paul, his theology and his letters, as well as a helpful handbook for how to interpret Paul’s texts. Most works only focus on one of those items, but Magee’s slim volume can be thought of as the proverbial “Swiss Army knife” of Pauline studies.

What book do you recommend? Comment below and let us know.

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