IVP - Behind the Books - [Giveaway] Top Ten Still Going Strong

January 30, 2013

[Giveaway] Top Ten Still Going Strong

On one of my posts last month, Terry Tiessen commented to ask what are IVP's oldest still-in-print titles — and it's high time I answered that question. Drumroll, please….

Our editorial director, Andy Le Peau, helped us out by researching some solid answers. There are a couple interesting results.

The Granddaddy

Quiet Time, from 1947

According to Andy's research, the very oldest title of ours that's still in print is:

With over a million copies (and may I add, a reasonable price of just $4 at ivpress.com?), this classic authored by InterVarsity staff was published 66 years ago this month. It's now situated in our IVP Connect line, resources for individual and group Bible study.

Top Ten

The rest of the Top Ten oldest among our books are no slouches, either, with one from the 1950s and the rest from the ’60s:


If you include booklets (our small-format, article-length offerings), there is a quartet that beats all but Quiet Time:

The current generation of IVP staff are grateful for the efforts of the authors and editors who produced these titles (and hundreds more) in decades past — and the millions of readers who read, benefited from and kept them going strong all these years.


Which of these classics have you read? I'm sure we'd all love to hear your reflections — and I'd like to do a little giveaway of several of these classics. So here's what let's do:

  • Leave a comment below (by 12:00 am CT, Monday, February 4) with a note about which of these you've read and benefited from yourself.
  • If you haven't read any of them, what's the deal?! ;) But you can enter, too: just comment about which you'd most like to read (and why).
  • I'll choose three winners:
    • Two drawn at random from among the commenters
    • One chosen purely at my discretion for "most interesting comment" :)

I'll let the three winners take their choice: any one of these books, any two ebooks or all four booklets.

(By the way, in offering two ebooks, I don't want to give the impression that ebooks are less valuable than hard copies! It's just that they don't cost me anything to ship, so I can afford to give you a pair.)

Posted by Jon Boyd at January 30, 2013 10:11 AM Bookmark and Share


I have decided to read through all of Schaeffer's works this year and have recently finished The God Who is There. Great book!

Comment by: Craig Hurst at January 30, 2013 10:31 AM

Craig, what a great way to spend a year! Given how prolific he was, I imagine he'll keep you busy — but well rewarded. (Let us know if we can help you lay your hands on any of his five IVP titles.)

Comment by: Jon at January 30, 2013 10:43 AM

I have read Packer's "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God" which is great book on our responsibility for evangelism and resting in the sovereign will of God.

Comment by: Chris Land at January 30, 2013 11:39 AM

my favorite is How to Give Away Your Faith. I have intended to purchase at least 3 times...Quiet Time...but haven't yet. Look forward to it for sure!

Comment by: Ron Kaulen at January 30, 2013 11:56 AM

Chris and Ron: Those are a couple of good ones, aren't they? Interesting that you both named an evangelism book — and they're two that illustrate the range of approaches IVP authors can take even on a single issue. Thanks for sharing.

(Ron: I hope you'll get a chance to read Quiet Time soon!)

Comment by: Jon at January 30, 2013 12:05 PM

I first read Packer's "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God" from high in a treetop during college for a Youth Ministry class. (Hidden in the treetop was one of the few places to enjoy peace and quiet on campus. ;) I managed to mark up the book plenty. (Though jumping to the lowest branch with book and pen in hand and scrambling up the tree took a bit of practice.) Packer was the first to introduce me to the notion of "antimony". His is still the best explanation that I have encountered of an apparent, but not actual, contradiction, and I find myself revisiting the concept frequently. I am grateful for the work that Packer has done and for the foundation that it has laid in my life as I've sought to grow in my understanding of God's living and active Word. Thanks for continuing to make such fine works available! :)

Comment by: Elizabeth at January 30, 2013 1:30 PM

I've read all the books I think (not sure about Leading Bible Discussions), most of them in my student days. Colin Brown was especially helpful in getting to grips with philosophy which was new to me then.
Reading the list is liked looking at photos of old friends and remembering their part in my life. Thanks for the memories and the push to get my golden oldies out again.

Comment by: Judy at January 30, 2013 2:31 PM

Thanks for compiling that list, Jon. It is very interesting.

I have read all of the ten oldest books except the guide to leading Bible studies. Pm second thought, I have read much of Brown’s book, but perhaps not all of it. Of the ten, the most influential in the formation of my own theological perspective were Packer’s _Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God_, and Stott’s _Baptism and Fulness_.

Some years ago, after reading a biography of Packer, I wrote him to thank him for his ministry in my life, almost all of which had been through his books, and many/all of those were published by IVP. I was interested to notice, as I read through his life’s writing history, how many of his books had come my way at critical moments in the formation of my own perspective. Since I almost always agreed with his position, my theology ended up looking quite a bit like his at the macro level, though we have our own distinctive take on some of the finer details. This possibly accounts for one of my particularly heart-warming memories. One of my former students, who was then studying under Dr. Packer, informed me that Packer had held up one of my books (published by IVP no less) and informed me that it was the best book on the subject. To realize that, in a small way, the blessing had gone full circle, was very encouraging.

Comment by: Terry Tiessen at January 30, 2013 2:43 PM

Elizabeth: What a great image, tucked away among one forest of leaves while immersing yourself in another, those "leaves" of a book. (It reminds me of the Latin motto I saw once in a university library — but I'll have to save that for another day.) :)

Judy: I'm glad these titles feel like a "family album" of beloved faces, and that you've read them all.

Terry: Ah, I'm so glad you saw this post, since your question was the original kernel of inquiry for it. And what a tribute from Prof. Packer himself! What was the book, may I ask?

(Here are Prof. Tiessen's available IVP titles, for other readers who may be interested.)

Comment by: Jon at January 30, 2013 3:15 PM

I have not read any of the ten but knowing the legacy of Packer and the recommendation from friends I would love to read Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. I own Knowing God, perhaps one if the most spiritually-advancing, God-exalting books in my library.

Comment by: Don Haflich at January 30, 2013 3:36 PM

Jon, the book was _Providence and Prayer_.

Comment by: Terry Tiessen at January 30, 2013 4:12 PM

Don: Good choice! As you can see, plenty of readers can recommend it. And you'll hear plenty of "amens" about Knowing God, too.

Terry: Thanks! That's a topic I'm interested in myself; my own dissertation in intellectual history was on the language of Providence in the historical discourse of nineteenth-century Americans, but I haven't had the pleasure of reading your book. I might have to wander into the warehouse…. :)

Comment by: Jon at January 30, 2013 4:26 PM

i've read all of them but "escape from reason" and "philosophy and the christian faith." and all of these publications are older than i am!

Comment by: Laura Vellenga at January 30, 2013 5:58 PM

To be quite honest, I have not given many of the titles above their due. I have read bits of Stott's "Basic Christianity" and Packer's "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God", but not worked through them as I ought.

I'd really like to read Brown's volume, "Philosophy and the Christian Faith"...Philosophy is an area in which I need to do far more study all together.

Thanks so much for your generosity in the giveaway...enjoyed the post!

Comment by: Kevin Fiske at January 30, 2013 9:25 PM

I have read Paul Little's 'Know Why You Believe'. It was one of the first books I read after becoming a Christian. Still love it. I have read part of John Stott's Basic Christianity, but I don't think I have ever read it cover to cover. I would be most interested in would be the ones by Brown and Packer. I am surprised I hadn't heard of the Brown book before.

Comment by: Matthew from Alaska at January 31, 2013 12:24 AM

IVP has been a good friend, adviser and source of books for me since my college time in the 70s. I gave the booklets "Becoming a Christian" and "Being a Christian" to a good friend when I was in grad school -- and she "made the decision" after reading them! A few years ago I was silently regretting having lost my copy of "My Heart, Christ's Home" when a freind sent me a very special learther-bound addition for Christmas! I used a German translation of "Know Why you Believe" to lead a women's Bible study a few years ago. IVP has always been there -- I just wish I could join the book club here in Germany!

Comment by: Barbara Schmidt-Runkel at January 31, 2013 5:27 AM

I've benefited from a number of these classics. Stott's Basic Christianity is a clear and cogent statement of the faith that I should probably return to more often. I also loved Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God as a clear refutation of the theory that there is conflict between sovereignty and our need, desire, or warrant to evangelize. There are others that could be mentioned too. Newer doesn't always mean better, and this is a good reminder of the profound spiritual wisdom that can be found in sometimes-dusty tomes.

Comment by: James Korsmo at January 31, 2013 7:23 AM

The only one I've read is Stott's Baptism and Fullness. I came across it at a crucial moment, when I was facing a lot of contradictory voices. Stott's clarity and simplicity helped me navigate the waters.

Comment by: Ben at January 31, 2013 11:06 AM

Laura: That's one thing about books, right? They can be like true "elders" to us, with mentoring and counsel beyond our own years. :)

Kevin: You're welcome! I'm glad we're talking about these books, and maybe spurring us all to take another look.

Matthew: I think you're right that the Brown book is something of the "sleeper" in this set.

Barbara: What wonderful stories! Thanks for sharing them. What a good friend, who somehow knew just how to fill the gap with that Christmas gift. It's true that the IVP Book Club is limited to US residents (because of shipping costs, as I'm sure you can understand), but hm... are you an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship alum? If you are, you qualify for an across-the-board 30% discount on IVP books, just as Book Club members do. Visit this IVCF Alumni page to register for the discount. Nothing beats the Book Club, but that would get you part-way there, at least. :)

James: I think you're right about re-reading. That's my own personal take-away from this little research project: that I need to re-read some of these (not to mention read the ones I haven't already).

Ben: Isn't it amazing how often a book arrives at just the right time like that? I've experienced that spiritual timeliness myself, too.

Comment by: Jon at January 31, 2013 2:25 PM

I was an IVP book rep at university in the UK about 25 years ago, so got to read quite a few of these books whilst trying not to bend the covers too obviously! My number one must be Stott's Basic Christianity, and it was a thrill to meet the author later in life, and have him sign a copy of 'The Incomparable Christ' which he had recently written (and published with IVP). The book I would most like to read is Brown's on philosophy and the Christian faith.

Comment by: Hilary at February 1, 2013 2:54 PM

I've read Stott's Basic Christianity, Little's Know Why You Believe, and Brown's Philosophy and Christian Faith. All have been influential in my formation when I was a new Christian in the 90's. I still refer people to read these books. They are classics and so well written. I would be interested in reading Packer's Evangelism and Sovereignty or Stott's Baptism and Fullness.

Comment by: Tony at February 1, 2013 3:30 PM

I have read Packer and Schaeffer, both writers have deeply shaped my thinking, and therefore, my Christian life for greater love of Christ and his church.

Comment by: Glenn E. Davis at February 1, 2013 7:20 PM

J. I. Packer's tome is one I have at home
(but sadly have not read),
and Stott's famous work is another I have shirked
though on the shelf beside my bed.

Here I confess of reading sin
and dare to hope that I might win
another book that I may or may not begin. ;)

Comment by: Hannah at February 3, 2013 9:47 PM

Hilary: What a shocking confession! A book rep who read the books?! ;) Great to get an autograph, isn't it? (That reminds me of an encounter I once had with the late Steven Jay Gould, which I'll have to tell another day.)

Tony: One of the joys of life: being able to pass along a book that's been significant!

Glenn: That's where the real fruit is, isn't it? Greater love.

Hannah: LOL. What a perfect way to round out our giveaway period! And so true: all the unread books. I'm sure we all can relate — and I'm pretty sure that's no sin. :)

Announcement of winners coming up soon....

Comment by: Jon at February 4, 2013 8:31 AM

Congrats to Elizabeth, James, and Hannah, the three winners of this giveaway. (If you're one of those three, watch your inbox for a personal email from me with instructions.)

But thanks to all of you for making this such an interesting conversation! I'm inspired to keep having interesting tidbits to share with you from "Behind the Books" at IVP.

Comment by: Jon at February 4, 2013 9:44 AM

Kelly, great comment about the cotincneon between mind and emotion. In the contemporary West, we tend to assume a sharp distinction between mind and emotion, a distinction that did not exist in ancient Hebrew culture. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, yet Jesus cites that verse as with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Jesus is not adding a new idea to Deuteronomy, but the Hebrew word (poorly) translated as soul nephesh means something more like your entire self, your being, your innermost essence, while the heart, in Hebrew culture, was considered the seat of reason (at least, so far as I understand). Jesus' words brought to us in Greek had to add mind to the list so that the Greek translations of Hebrew words would not misleadingly exclude our reason. In this book and in ESN in general, we focus on the mind (partly to correct a neglect we see elsewhere in the church), but we must always include these other aspects of ourselves emotion, heart, body, and so on. Thank you for the reminder.

Comment by: Syunji at March 8, 2013 5:21 PM

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