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Professor Crenshaw Recommends...

Divinity asked James L. Crenshaw, Robert L. Flowers Professor of Old Testament, to share a few favorite book titles from his own library. Widely known as a scholar of wisdom literature, Crenshaw is also a poet and a grandparent. Here he includes two volumes of poetry and two children’s books among the titles that he’s drawn back to again and again, and frequently recommends.

Crenshaw took time off to respond while packing his books for the move with his wife, Nina, to Nashville, Tenn. After a sabbatical during the spring semester, he will retire there near his children and grandchildren. Crenshaw taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School for 15 years before coming to Duke in 1987.

For All Ages

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood with illustrations by Cheng-Khee Chee
Duluth, Minn.; Pfeifer Publishers, 1992

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau with illustrations by Gail de Marcken
New York: Orchard Books, 2000

These two titles combine profound theology with breathtakingly beautiful illustrations. Although written for children, they can be read profitably by adults for the issues they raise are significant.


Unholy Sonnets by Mark Jarman
Ashland, Ore.: Story Line Press, April 2000

Questions for Ecclesiastes by Mark Jarman
Ashland, Ore.: Story Line Press, 1997

The two collections of poetry by Mark Jarman, the son of a minister and current professor at Vanderbilt, pose troubling questions about the utility of Ecclesiastes in pastoral ministry and about the very possibility of believing in a God today.

Topical and Timely

Knowledge and the Sacred by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989

The work by Nasr is a remarkable intellectual history by a Muslim scholar who defends the primacy of faith in the quest for knowledge. A leading expert on Islamic science and spirituality, he is University Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University.

Despite the possibility of hubris, I would also include in this category Defending God: Biblical Responses to the Problem of Evil (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). The fruit of a lifetime of my research, it deals with what I consider the fundamental problem facing theists in the modern world and shows how it has been with us for millennia.