As Candler looks back on its last century, we wanted to look back on some of the high points in faculty scholarship. Of course, compiling a list of “greatest hits” in an environment flush with excellent scholarly publications was daunting, but a group of faculty took up the challenge. They nominated books that met two criteria. First, the books must have been “influential” in the most exacting sense. Not merely examples of fine scholarship, these are books that changed the conversation in an area of study, became leading textbooks in their fields, were the first of their kind, or became the definitive sourcebook for scholars that followed. Second, the books must have been completed or published while the author was on Candler’s faculty.

It’s important to note that the scarcity of titles from the first half of Candler’s 100 years is due to one of the most striking changes in the school’s faculty over time: an increase in academic prominence and productivity. Candler’s first professors were chosen for their experience in the pastorate and the pulpit, not because they were widely published scholars. They were excellent teachers and servants of the church, but it was not until the late 1950s that Candler fostered a desire among faculty to contribute to scholarship. Today, the Candler faculty’s blend of teaching, service, and scholarship is a hallmark of the school.

So, with an acknowledgment of the “unscientific method” employed in the list’s creation, here are the books, in alphabetical order by the author’s name.

What is New Testament Theology?What is New Testament Theology? Hendrikus Boers, 1979.
Nearly every survey of New Testament theology refers to this short book as a guide to the history of the field and its pertinent questions.






To Love as God LovesTo Love as God Loves, Roberta C. Bondi, 1987.
Bondi’s original work on the desert monks of the early church marries historical theology and daily spiritual practice.






The Power to Speak: Feminism, Language, GodThe Power to Speak: Feminism, Language, God, Rebecca S. Chopp, 1989.
Influential in feminist theology, this work proposes that if Scripture is viewed as a prototype rather than an archetype, women can proclaim the Word and thereby resist and transform repressive orders.





As One Without AuthorityAs One Without Authority, Fred B. Craddock, 1971.
Now in its fourth edition, this groundbreaking work introduced the concept of narrative-based “inductive preaching,” turning on its head the long-held model of the deductive three-point sermon. Forty years after its release, it is still considered one of the most important contributions to homiletical scholarship.




PreachingPreaching, Fred B. Craddock, 1985.
A popular textbook that weaves history, theology, and hermeneutics into a practical yet concentrated text on the art and craft of preaching. The 25th anniversary edition was published in 2010.





The Disabled GodThe Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability, Nancy L. Eiesland, 1994.
Eiesland’s book, which challenges the ableist assumptions of our "normal" worldview and the marginalization of people with disabilities, founded a new field at the intersection of disability studies and theology. This remains the field’s classic text.



Educating CongregationsEducating Congregations: The Future of Christian Education, Charles R. Foster, 1994.
Foster identifies the weaknesses of church education programs and puts forth an alternative vision with deeper attention to the life of the congregation as a whole.





Polity, Practice, and the Mission of the United Methodist ChurchPolity, Practice, and the Mission of the United Methodist Church, Thomas E. Frank, 1997.
Commissioned by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and now in its third edition, the book is used in doctrine, polity and history courses in United Methodist seminaries.




The Living Human DocumentThe Living Human Document: Re-Visioning Pastoral Counseling in a Hermeneutical Mode, Charles V. Gerkin, 1984.
The first of a trio of books that began a move toward an interpretive approach to pastoral care, a major turn in that field.






Dictionary of Biblical InterpretationDictionary of Biblical Interpretation, John H. Hayes, editor, 1998.
This two-volume set offers extensive histories of biblical books, as well as significant individuals, methods, and movements connected to biblical interpretation.




Biblical ExegesisBiblical Exegesis: A Beginner’s Handbook, John H. Hayes and Carl R. Holladay, 1982.
Now in its third edition, this text’s solid introductory material on exegetical methods, theory, and practice is widely used in seminaries and by practicing ministers.




Theology in AmericaTheology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War, E. Brooks Holifield, 2003.
This award-winner is the first comprehensive study of American Christian theology in the antebellum period. Described as a “majestic achievement,” the book is deep and wide-reaching, destined to become the definitive study of the development of American theology.



A Critical Introduction to the New TestamentA Critical Introduction to New Testament: Interpreting the Message and Meaning of Jesus, Carl R. Holladay, 2005.
Used widely by seminaries and ministers, it offers historical context as well as an orientation to religious, theological, and ethical issues surrounding Jesus’ message.



CongregationCongregation: Stories and Structure, James F. Hopewell, 1987.
Published posthumously, Hopewell’s book and groundbreaking research helped to spark the new academic discipline of congregational studies.






Dictionary of Pastoral Care and CounselingDictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Rodney J. Hunter, editor, 1986.
A definitive reference work in the field of pastoral care and counseling.







The Writings of the New TestamentThe Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, Luke Timothy Johnson, 1986.
Leading readers into the religious experience of the earliest Christians and the literature that arose from that experience, this introduction, now in its third edition, is widely used as a textbook in seminaries and colleges.


The Real JesusThe Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels, Luke Timothy Johnson, 1996.
Generating a media storm upon publication, this was the first book to challenge the Jesus Seminar’s controversial claims, among them that Jesus said only 18 percent of what the Gospels attribute to him.




Among the GentilesAmong the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity, Luke Timothy Johnson, 2009.
Winner of the 2011 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, this book proposes a new framework for analyzing early Christianity in its religious, social, and historical contexts.




The Witness of PreachingThe Witness of Preaching, Thomas G. Long, 1989.
Now in its second edition, this renowned text used by preachers and in seminaries integrates a comprehensive theological vision of preaching and the practical matters in sermon creation.





Accompany Them with SingingAccompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral, Thomas G. Long, 2009.
This award-winning book offers a theological and cultural critique of the 21st century Christian funeral and identifies characteristics of a “good funeral.”






Cambridge Dictionary of Christian TheologyCambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology, Ian A. McFarland, editor with with David A. S. Fergusson, et al., 2011.
Contributions from Candler are abundant in this 572-page volume: McFarland wrote 150 of the 550 entries himself, and 15 other Candler faculty contributed articles on wide-ranging topics.




A History of Ancient Israel and JudahA History of Ancient Israel and Judah, Maxwell Miller and John H. Hayes, 1996.
Controversial when it was released, this classic textbook, now in its second edition, redefined the interpretation of Israelite and Judean history within the field of Old Testament studies.





Women's Bible CommentaryWomen’s Bible Commentary, Carol A. Newsom, co-editor with Sharon Ringe, 1992.
This now-classic resource was the first of its kind, exploring the implications of how women and other marginalized people are portrayed in biblical texts and challenging long-held assumptions. Now in its third edition.




The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of JesusThe Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus, Norman Perrin, 1963.
Though he is best identified with the University of Chicago, Perrin was on Candler’s faculty from 1959 until 1964, during which time he published this influential work, still highly regarded in theological education circles.





Common English BibleThe Common English Bible, David L. Petersen, senior Old Testament editor and Brent A. Strawn, associate Old Testament editor, 2011.
A total of six Candler faculty members were involved in this monumental undertaking: a new translation of the Bible in contemporary English that combines accuracy with readability.




The Methodist Experience in America, Volume 1The Methodist Experience in America, Russ Richey with Kenneth E. Rowe and Jeanne Miller Schmidt, Volume 1: A History (2010); Volume 2: Sourcebook (2000).
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry commissioned this two-volume set for use in courses on United Methodist doctrine, polity, and history.   



Still the Bible Speaks, Wyatt Aiken Smart, 1947.
This published collection of Smart’s Cole Lectures at Vanderbilt University helped to establish the framework for biblical studies after World War II, where the focus is on interpreting the Hebrew Bible as a theological document rather than a historical one.




Getting Saved From the SixtiesGetting Saved from the Sixties: Moral Meaning in Conversation and Cultural Change, Steven M. Tipton, 1982.
A groundbreaking study of how young Americans think about morality and live it out, this book examines how contrasting ethical styles structured the conflict between mainstream and counterculture in the 1960s and continued to transform values long after.



Habits of the HeartHabits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, Steven M. Tipton, et al., 1985.
Now in its second edition, this remains one of the most discussed interpretations of modern American society and character, a treatise on a democratic community that draws on our diverse civic and religious traditions.




Worship as TheologyWorship as Theology: Foretaste of Glory Divine, Don E. Saliers, 1994.
This insightful work calls for theological integrity in worship, manifested by a tension in the forms and patterns that reflect the “already” and “not yet” of Christian life in the world. It continues to be formative in worship planning and liturgics.




Howard ThurmanHoward Thurman: The Mystic as Prophet, Luther E. Smith, Jr., 1982.
Smith’s seminal work introduced much of academia—and the world—to influential theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman. A 25th anniversary edition was published in 2007.