I always like to glance through book lists. The Christian Humanist Blog has a list of 50 books that an aspiring seminarians might think about reading. I am not sure about the list as a preparation for seminary (in large part because I have only read a handful of the books), but it is a unique list of books because so little of it is traditional theology or Christian history.
Much of it is public domain, so you could read more than half of the list for free if you want. But Nathan Gilmour (the post’s author) has linked to recent critical editions of all of the older books which may make it easier to read the book in context of its importance.
I’ve often told people who aspire to graduate school in Biblical studies or theology that an English major might just serve them better than a Bachelor’s degree in ministry. Most undergrads roundly ignore me, but recently three of my own students, Peyton and Johnathan and Seth, two English majors and an English minor, have told me that they’re seminary-bound. In our conversations about such things, Seth recently asked if I could recommend fifty books that he could read before he starts seminary (he plans to work for a year or two before he starts up graduate school). Since I told him I would do so, and since there might be other humanities-types out there who have also considered the formal study of divinity, I decided to post that list here.
The philosophy that governs this list is that seminary ought to be a place that pushes against your strongest ideas, and without some strong ideas going in, that’s harder to do. These texts should provide a seminarian with a vocabulary of stories and claims and visions of reality that will make the critical intellectual work of seminary far more valuable than a trip to seminary where one hears of Plato for the first time from a twentieth-century book criticizing “Platonism.”