100 books like A History of Judaism

By Martin Goodman,

Here are 100 books that A History of Judaism fans have personally recommended if you like A History of Judaism. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

Ann Göth Author Of Volcanic Adventures in Tonga: Species Conservation on Tin Can Island

From my list on sweeping you to remote islands in the South Pacific.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Australian writer with a passion for all books about the South Pacific. Thirty years ago, I embarked on a two-year mission to the Kingdom of Tonga, and soon after, my job as a naturalist on cruise ships took me to many beautiful, fascinating, and often very remote island nations in that region. Nowadays, my jobs as a writer, scientist, high school teacher, and mother leave little room to navigate to that beautiful part of the world, but I continue to read whatever seems even slightly related to the South Pacific Theme. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Ann's book list on sweeping you to remote islands in the South Pacific

Ann Göth Why did Ann love this book?

Having lived with Polynesian people on remote islands for 17 months, I always wondered where they originally came from and how their fascinating culture evolved.

This book enlightened me as it beautifully describes how the earliest Polynesians reached these far-away islands with amazing seafarer skills but no written tradition or metal tools at hand. I came across this book when it won the 2020 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for nonfiction and can only agree that it is very well-researched and written in an easy-to-understand way. 

By Christina Thompson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sea People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A blend of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and Simon Winchester's Pacific, a thrilling intellectual detective story that looks deep into the past to uncover who first settled the islands of the remote Pacific, where they came from, how they got there, and how we know.

For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, a vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island. Until the arrival of European explorers they were the only people to have ever lived there. Both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed…


Book cover of How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy

James Hannam Author Of The Globe: How the Earth Became Round

From my list on how non-western cultures think about the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who loves to tell unexpected stories about the interactions between science, religion, and philosophy. As a Christian with a physics degree, I knew the relationship between science and religion was much more interesting than an eternal conflict. So I went back to university, gained a PhD that involved reading lots of Latin and wrote God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. Since then, I’ve been exploring how traditional ways of seeing the universe differ from modern science, and how we got from one to the other.

James' book list on how non-western cultures think about the world

James Hannam Why did James love this book?

This book makes philosophy exciting again.

Julian Baggini has travelled the world to meet thinkers to find out how different philosophical traditions understand ethics, metaphysics, and reason. He sympathetically explains ideas that can seem unusual or surprising but he isn’t afraid to be critical in his observations.

I loved the way he uncovers the unique aspects of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Islamic, and American thought, comparing the ways they deal with questions about God, science, how to be good and how to be content.

Above all, he shows that philosophy is impoverished if it is restricted to ‘western’ thought. 

By Julian Baggini,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How the World Thinks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER*

'There to fill the Sapiens-size hole in your life' Observer

In this groundbreaking global overview of philosophy, Julian Baggini travels the world to provide a wide-ranging map of human thought.

One of the great unexplained wonders of human history is that written philosophy flowered entirely separately in China, India and Ancient Greece at more or less the same time. These early philosophies have had a profound impact on the development of distinctive cultures in different parts of the world. What we call 'philosophy' in the West is not even half the story.

Julian Baggini sets out to…


Book cover of The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times

James Hannam Author Of The Globe: How the Earth Became Round

From my list on how non-western cultures think about the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who loves to tell unexpected stories about the interactions between science, religion, and philosophy. As a Christian with a physics degree, I knew the relationship between science and religion was much more interesting than an eternal conflict. So I went back to university, gained a PhD that involved reading lots of Latin and wrote God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. Since then, I’ve been exploring how traditional ways of seeing the universe differ from modern science, and how we got from one to the other.

James' book list on how non-western cultures think about the world

James Hannam Why did James love this book?

What happens when two great civilizations change places?

Until the eighteenth century, the Muslim world felt confident and strong, not to mention clearly superior to Christian Europe. Then, when Napoleon invaded Egypt and Persia became a victim of Russian aggression, it was painfully clear that Europe was in the ascendant.

This book is the story of how Islam tried to come to terms with this stunning reversal, by turns embracing and then rejecting Western ideas. Persia and the Ottoman Empire made huge strides towards modernization, adopting women’s rights, scientific knowledge, and a Westernized military. But the fundamental tension between tradition and modernity was never quite resolved.

I particularly enjoyed the stories of people whose lives were consumed by the need to match the technological achievements of the West without wanting to emulate its values. 

By Christopher de Bellaigue,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Islamic Enlightenment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With majestic prose, Christopher de Bellaigue presents an absorbing account of the political and social reformations that transformed the lands of Islam in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Flying in the face of everything we thought we knew, The Islamic Enlightenment becomes an astonishing and revelatory history that offers a game-changing assessment of the Middle East since the Napoleonic Wars.

Beginning his account in 1798, de Bellaigue demonstrates how Middle Eastern heartlands have long welcomed modern ideals and practices, including the adoption of modern medicine, the emergence of women from seclusion, and the development of democracy. With trenchant political…


Book cover of Classical Indian Philosophy

James Hannam Author Of The Globe: How the Earth Became Round

From my list on how non-western cultures think about the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who loves to tell unexpected stories about the interactions between science, religion, and philosophy. As a Christian with a physics degree, I knew the relationship between science and religion was much more interesting than an eternal conflict. So I went back to university, gained a PhD that involved reading lots of Latin and wrote God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. Since then, I’ve been exploring how traditional ways of seeing the universe differ from modern science, and how we got from one to the other.

James' book list on how non-western cultures think about the world

James Hannam Why did James love this book?

Peter Adamson’s fantastic and long-running podcast A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps is also a book series.

My favourite is the introduction to Indian thought, a subject that badly needed an accessible overview. Each chapter is a short taster on a major thinker or aspect of Indian philosophy, laced with Adamson’s trademark drollery. It begins with the ancient Vedas and encompasses Jain and Buddhist thought going up to the sixth century AD.

As someone brought up in the Western philosophical tradition, I found the explanations of Indian ideas thought-provoking and fascinating. 

By Peter Adamson, Jonardon Ganeri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Classical Indian Philosophy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Adamson and Jonardon Ganeri present a lively introduction to one of the world's richest intellectual traditions: the philosophy of classical India. They begin with the earliest extant literature, the Vedas, and the explanatory works that these inspired, known as Upanisads. They also discuss other famous texts of classical Vedic culture, especially the Mahabharata and its most notable section, the Bhagavad-Gita, alongside
the rise of Buddhism and Jainism. In this opening section, Adamson and Ganeri emphasize the way that philosophy was practiced as a form of life in search of liberation from suffering. Next, the pair move on to the…


Book cover of Theological-Political Treatise: Tractatus Theologico-Politicus

Rick Strassman Author Of DMT and the Soul of Prophecy: A New Science of Spiritual Revelation in the Hebrew Bible

From my list on things we don’t normally perceive or consider.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in the interface of biology and the mind, and between the mind and usually invisible worlds. Both Philip K Dick and the medieval Jewish philosophers labor mightily to unpack and communicate realms of the imagination residing in science fiction as well as Hebrew Bible prophecy. Likewise, the influx of Eastern religious practices and beliefs have pointed to areas of consciousness previously unknown to the West.

Rick's book list on things we don’t normally perceive or consider

Rick Strassman Why did Rick love this book?

Ostensibly an implacable intellectual foe of Maimonides’ “Guide,” this twice-excommunicated Jewish philosopher makes his own compelling arguments for the basis of spiritual experience/prophecy. At the same time, one senses a powerful compatibility with his philosophical opponent’s viewpoints.

By Robert Harvey Munroe Elwes, Benedictus de Spinoza,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Theological-Political Treatise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Theological-Political Treatise (Latin: Tractatus Theologico-Politicus) by Baruch Spinoza, was originally published in Latin in 1670. The work is a pre-emptive defence of his post-humously published magnum opus, Ethics (Latin: Ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata), a book which he expected a barrage of harsh criticism for.In the treatise, Spinoza elaborated a harsh systematic criticism of Judaism and general organised religion. Arguing that theology and philosophy needed to be kept separate. Distinguishing between theology's goal of obedience, and philosophy's attempt to understand rational truth. Spinoza also argued that claimed supernatural events, like prophecy and miracles have natural explanations. Furthermore, he argued that God…


Book cover of The Guide for the Perplexed

Rick Strassman Author Of DMT and the Soul of Prophecy: A New Science of Spiritual Revelation in the Hebrew Bible

From my list on things we don’t normally perceive or consider.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in the interface of biology and the mind, and between the mind and usually invisible worlds. Both Philip K Dick and the medieval Jewish philosophers labor mightily to unpack and communicate realms of the imagination residing in science fiction as well as Hebrew Bible prophecy. Likewise, the influx of Eastern religious practices and beliefs have pointed to areas of consciousness previously unknown to the West.

Rick's book list on things we don’t normally perceive or consider

Rick Strassman Why did Rick love this book?

The classic 13th century medieval Jewish philosophic text that proposes a sophisticated—for that time—metaphysical model of spiritual experience; in this case, prophecy as articulated in the Hebrew Bible. The intellectual scaffolding for my attempt to resurrect a metaphysics of prophecy in my 2014 book "DMT and the Soul of Prophecy."

By Moses Maimonides,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Guide for the Perplexed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the full, unabridged text of one of the greatest philosophic works of all time. Written by a 12th- century thinker who was equally active as an original philosopher and as a Biblical and Talmudic scholar, it is both a classic of great historical importance and a work of living significance today.
The Guide for the Perplexed was written for scholars who were bewildered by the conflict between religion and the scientific and philosophic thought of the day. It is concerned, basically, with finding a concord between the religion of the Old Testament and its commentaries, and Aristotelian philosophy.…


Book cover of Zen Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Author Of Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

From my list on Zen and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong practitioner and teacher of both Zen and Judaism, I am also a psychologist, who has constantly grappled with human needs, suffering, and the craving for meaning. The focus of my life has been to integrate the profound teachings of East and West and provide ways of making these teachings real in our everyday lives. An award-winning author, I have published many books on Zen and psychology, and have been the playwright in residence at the Jewish Repertory Theater in NY. Presently, I offer two weekly podcasts, Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, and One Minute Mitzvahs. I also provide ongoing Zen talks both for Morningstar Zen and Inisfada Zen, workshops, and other talks for the community.

Brenda's book list on Zen and Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Why did Brenda love this book?

Zen Judaism is a frank reflection on the tensions between reason and faith in today’s context of knowledge. This book includes logic, ethics, philosophy, phenomenology and the need to inject Zen-like meditation into Judaism.

By Avi Sion,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zen Judaism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Zen Judaism is a frank reflection on the tensions between reason and faith in today’s context of knowledge, and on the need to inject Zen-like meditation into Judaism. This work also treats some issues in ethics and theodicy.


Book cover of Judaism Disrupted: A Spiritual Manifesto for the 21st Century

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of The Sisters Z

From my list on introducing Jewish ideas to others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi, educator, scholar and author who has led congregations, organizations and taught in rabbinical seminaries. As a result, I have always straddled the world of the practitioner and the academician. These books have informed my personal religious practice and outlook, as well as my academic approach to Judaism.

Kerry's book list on introducing Jewish ideas to others

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

By the author of the most well-known and useful DIY book (The Jewish Catalogue), this is one of the most important books of the current generation.

The author gives us a blueprint for navigating a positive and productive Jewish future and the steps for getting there. I found the book intriguing. Since I consider myself a Jewish futurist, this book projects a possible trend in the future—which I find to be quite provocative and potentially “prophetic.”

By Michael Strassfeld,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Judaism Disrupted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"I can't remember the last time I felt pulled to underline a book constantly as I was reading it, but Judaism Disrupted is exactly that intellectual, spiritual and personal adventure. You will find yourself nodding, wrestling, and hoping to hold on to so many of its ideas and challenges. Rabbi Strassfeld reframes a Torah that demands breakage, reimagination, and ownership. Not only did I learn so much from Strassfeld's 11 principles; I was changed by them."

-Abigail Pogrebin, author, My Jewish Year; 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew


How do you hold on to faith in a modern world? Rabbi Michael…


Book cover of Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity

John Tolan Author Of Faces of Muhammad: Western Perceptions of the Prophet of Islam from the Middle Ages to Today

From my list on making you realize you don’t know what religion is.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the 1980s, I was living in Spain, teaching high school. On weekends and vacations, I traveled throughout the country, fascinated with the remnants of its flourishing medieval civilization, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims mingled. When I later became a historian, I focused on the rich history of Jewish-Christian-Muslim contact in Spain and throughout the Mediterranean. I also wanted to understand conflict and prejudice, particularly the historical roots of antisemitism and islamophobia in Europe. I have increasingly realized that classical religious texts need to be reread and contextualized and that we need to rethink our ideas about religion and religious conflict.

John's book list on making you realize you don’t know what religion is

John Tolan Why did John love this book?

How did Christianity grow out of Judaism and emerge as a separate religion? We all know, of course, that Jesus was Jewish, as were the Apostles. And it is well-known that it is Apostle Paul who first started preaching the faith of Christ to non-Jews. Yet we tend to think that by the end of the first century CE, Judaism and Christianity are two distinct and separate religions. Daniel Boyarin’s fascinating book challenges that idea. Throughout the first centuries of our era, some Jews accepted Jesus as their Messiah, others did not. Some Christians continued to frequent the synagogue and celebrate Jewish holidays, others did not. Only gradually, over the course of five or six centuries, did religious authorities (rabbis, bishops, theologians) construct and impose borders between the two “religions,” Judaism and Christianity.

By Daniel Boyarin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Border Lines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The historical separation between Judaism and Christianity is often figured as a clearly defined break of a single entity into two separate religions. Following this model, there would have been one religion known as Judaism before the birth of Christ, which then took on a hybrid identity. Even before its subsequent division, certain beliefs and practices of this composite would have been identifiable as Christian or Jewish.In Border Lines, however, Daniel Boyarin makes a striking case for a very different way of thinking about the historical development that is the partition of Judaeo-Christianity.
There were no characteristics or features that…


Book cover of Between Zionism and Judaism: The Radical Circle in Brith Shalom 1925-1933

Paul Mendes-Flohr Author Of A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs

From my list on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My engagement in the topic has two distinct vectors, academic, and personal, or, if you wish, existential. My academic engagement began when Buber's son Raphael (1900-91), who served as the Executor of  the Martin Buber Literary Estate, invited me to assemble and edit his father's writings on the "Arab Question." He explained that of all of his father's publications, his ramified writings promoting the political and human dignity of the Palestinian Arabs spoke most dearly and, as a citizen of the State of Israel, most immediately to him. I accepted Rafael's invitation with alacrity, for like Raphael I'm an Israeli by choice, having emigrated to the country in 1970. 

Paul's book list on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did Paul love this book?

The tension between nationalism and humanism, on the one hand, and between Zionism and Judaism, on the other, is vividly illustrated by this work. This is done through a comprehensive description of a variety of sources and ideas that inspired the Brith Shalom Society's radical circle in early twentieth-century Palestine, which advocated a bi-national state, in which Jews and Arabs would share on the basis of absolute parity.

By Shalom Ratzabi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between Zionism and Judaism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work provides a vivid picture of the dichotomy between the ideology preached by the radical circle of the Brith Shalom Society and the nationalism of early twentieth-century Palestine. Many considered the Brith Shalom Society representative of the spiritual trend of Zionism.
This important book examines the aspirations and cultural sources of these men from Central Europe who met in Palestine as members of the Brith Shalom Society during the first half of the twentieth century, in the context of the political reality of a pre-independent Palestine and the new state of Israel.
The fact that this circle included well-known…


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