The best books on early Christianity

Barrie Wilson Author Of Searching for the Messiah: Unlocking the "Psalms of Solomon" and Humanity's Quest for a Savior
By Barrie Wilson

The Books I Picked & Why

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity

By James D. Tabor

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity

Why this book?

A well-written, well researched book by a prominent American archeologist and New Testament scholar that examines what we can now reliably know about the Jesus of history. Tabor carefully sifts through the conflicting evidence in the gospels, written 40-70 years after the death of Jesus, and illuminates his discussion with contemporary archeological finds. A paradigm changer in our search for the historical Jesus, not the Christ of faith.


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The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity

By Hyam Maccoby

The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity

Why this book?

If we only had Paul to rely on for our knowledge of Jesus’ life, all we’d know is that he was born, was Jewish, had brothers and died. Written by a British academic, The Mythmaker is a break-through book that shows how Paul created Christianity by developing a mythology/theology about the significance of the death of Jesus as a Christ. Maccoby’s thought is further developed in my book, How Jesus Became Christian (2008) that demonstrates how different Paul’s religion was from that of Jesus.


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Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

By Bart D. Ehrman

Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

Why this book?

Ehrman’s many books are worthy of study, especially this one which shows how Christianity developed over the first three centuries. The older view, that there was one mainstream church surrounded by many smaller deviant sects or “heresies” has now been discarded. Prior to Constantine, there were many groups all claiming to be Christian and no one was dominant. Each battled for supremacy. Only in the 4th century CE did one faction emerge as dominant, the group favored by two Roman Emperors, Constantine and Theodosius.


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Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History

By James Carroll

Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History

Why this book?

Judaism and Christianity have been intertwined for centuries, right from the start as the Jewish Jesus was crucified by Roman authorities. The late 1st century CE Gospel of Matthew developed anti-Jewish sentiments. Some 50 years after the death of Jesus, this writing portrays a Jewish mob saying that Jesus’ death should be upon them and their children, a charge that has reverberated through the centuries and is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands. This book examines the interplay between Christianity and Judaism throughout the centuries into modern times.


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The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity

By Jeffrey J. Butz

The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity

Why this book?

According to the gospels, Jesus had 4 brothers – James, Jose, Simon, Judas – and at least two sisters (who are not named). What happened to these individuals after Jesus’ crucifixion? Butz explores the Jewish movement that stemmed from Jesus’ brother, James. James led Jesus’ followers from the time of Jesus’ death up until his own death in 62 CE. A leader who knew Jesus his whole life, James regarded Jesus as a Jewish teacher. He differed radically from Paul, who never met the Jesus of history. This book explores the original movement that originated from Jesus.


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