Deserted Island Top 5: Burk Parsons

Stephen Nichols: Today we are returning to our deserted island, and I’m going to send out to that deserted island someone who is no stranger to 5 Minutes in Church History, and that is Dr. Burk Parsons. Dr. Parsons is copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel, editor of Tabletalk magazine, and a Ligonier teaching fellow, and he’s all set to be shipped off to his island. It is good to see you, Dr. Parsons.

Burk Parsons: Thank you Steve, it’s always good to be with you.

SN: So, have you given any thought to the books that you would like to take with you?

BP: I have given some thought to it, and we’ve even spoken about it this morning.

SN: Recently you’ve given it some thought?

BP: I’ve always heard other people’s lists and what they would bring, and I’d have to concur with R.C. that the first book that I’d want to bring would be How to Get Off a Desert Island, and I’d follow that up with, you know, Edible Fruits and Bushes of the Deserted Island, How to Build a Boat, that sort of thing. Then there’s all the classics that many of your interviewees have mentioned. The big question for me is, how many multivolume sets can I bring?

SN: Multivolume sets count as one. You can go ahead.

BP: That’s very generous. As a full-time pastor, I spend the majority of my time in commentaries; they’re my closest companion. Commentaries are far and away the most beloved thing that I get to read in life. It’s to them that I turn throughout the week when I’m in various passages, and I’m preaching through Romans and Exodus right now, Lord’s Day morning and evening. As I think about this whole deserted island question, I can’t help but immediately go to commentaries. And not just commentaries, but also helps, Old Testament and New Testament helps—Hebrew and Greek lexicons and Hebrew and Greek testaments. You’ve told me that I have the Bible.

SN: You have the Reformation Study Bible.

BP: Right! I have the Reformation Study Bible. Even more helpful. But you do need a good reference Bible, and I think they’re very helpful for all Christians. I’d have to say that I’d love to have a couple commentaries on the Psalms, if I could. I’d love to have an advanced Hebrew grammar on syntax; maybe Bruce Waltke and M. O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. And I’d also love to have a commentary on John. Something maybe from more recent years. And then a more advanced Greek grammar—maybe Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. I think if I really had this sort of time on a deserted island, I’d like to spend time in the Psalms and spend time studying the intricacies of the Hebrew language and the Old Testament—as much as I could with those five books. Besides that, I would definitely want to take (if I can take that multivolume series) it would be John Owen’s works. If I had to narrow it down, though, to one or two of his works, it would either be Communion with God or The Glory of Christ, which, as you know, he wrote really toward the end of his life.

SN: So you’re going to be doing a lot of sermon prep while you’re on this island and you’re going to be preaching a series on the Psalms and John. You might be preaching to yourself, but you’ll be preaching.

BP: Well, I’ll be preaching to the turtles and to the birds, and to whatever animals I can get to listen.

SN: And you’ll be reading John Owen. So, is there anything else? We’ll let you take something else if you like.

BP: Well, you know there’s so many classics, of course. We have the Institutes, you said.

SN: They’re there.

BP: And other books are there. But, honestly, it would be more commentaries.

SN: More commentaries? For more sermon series?

BP: Without question. There’s so much edification that we can receive from commentaries and from looking at the text, looking at the original context, looking at the beauty and all the glory of every word and phrase. You know, we don’t just believe in word-for- word plenary inspiration of Scripture; we really believe in every jot and tittle. You know, I once considered doing further studies and postgraduate work both in the New Testament and in the Old Testament, and I think that really has always been my greatest love—to really spend the time in the Scriptures—and it’s where I’d really want to spend most of my time if I were really on that deserted island.

SN: Well, we’ll try to make it happen. We’re ready to send you off now and you can spend all the time you’d like in the Psalms and in John. Thank you for visiting with us.

BP: Thank you, Steve.

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