100 books like Christianity

By Diarmaid MacCulloch,

Here are 100 books that Christianity fans have personally recommended if you like Christianity. 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 Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

Lisa McClain Author Of Divided Loyalties? Pushing the Boundaries of Gender and Lay Roles in the Catholic Church, 1534-1829

From my list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do what I do for completely self-interested reasons. I am a woman, wife, and mother; a history professor specializing in the Catholic Church and gender; and a Christian (Episcopalian). I used to compartmentalize those roles. I was a Christian at church, a secular scholar at work, etc. It was exhausting. I was frustrated by conflicting messages about gender and faith from my family, profession, and religion. I wanted to be true to all aspects of my identity in all situations, but how? History is full of people who’ve questioned and adapted at the intersections of gender and religion. I learn from their journeys and add another piece of the puzzle.

Lisa's book list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity

Lisa McClain Why did Lisa love this book?

I don’t always agree with Bart Ehrman, but I do here. Forgeries, heresies, martyrs, even unfamiliar texts featuring women (who was Thecla and why was she hanging around with Paul?) contribute to an engaging read.

Whereas MacCulloch provides the “big picture” of Christian history, Ehrman targets the first centuries of Christianity—those centuries so critical to current debates about gender and lay roles in churches—to help us understand what we don’t understand about holy texts, especially ones that never made it into Christian Bible.

Ehrman takes us into the thought processes of early Church communities to help us see how Christians made decisions that shaped church policies relevant to gendered and lay leadership today.

By Bart D. Ehrman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The early Christian Church was a chaos of contending beliefs. Some groups of Christians claimed that there was not one God but two or twelve or thirty. Some believed that the world had not been created by God but by a lesser, ignorant deity. Certain sects maintained that Jesus was human but not divine, while others said he was divine but not human.
In Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman offers a fascinating look at these early forms of Christianity and shows how they came to be suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. All of these groups insisted that they upheld the teachings…


Book cover of Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States

Fernanda Pirie Author Of The Rule of Laws: A 4,000-Year Quest to Order the World

From my list on making us rethink global history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an anthropologist on a mission to discover how people have used, and abused, law over the past 4,000 years. After a decade in a wig and gown at the London Bar, I headed back to university to pursue a long-standing interest in Tibetan culture. I spent two years living with remote villagers and nomads, freezing over dung fires, herding yaks, and learning about traditional legal practices. Now, based at the University of Oxford, I’ve turned to legal history, comparing ancient Tibetan texts with examples from all over the world. The Rule of Laws brings a long sweep of legal history and its fascinating diversity to a wide audience.

Fernanda's book list on making us rethink global history

Fernanda Pirie Why did Fernanda love this book?

Scott takes us through the evidence of the earliest hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies and asks why anyone ever allowed rulers to amass power and centralize control of resources. The evidence is that farmers flourished for centuries without letting anyone lord it over them. Why, then, does agriculture seem to have led to the rise of the state? Readable and compelling, Scott's latest book makes a really convincing case against the benefits, and inevitability, of the state.

By James C. Scott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Economist Best History Book 2017

"History as it should be written."-Barry Cunliffe, Guardian

"Scott hits the nail squarely on the head by exposing the staggering price our ancestors paid for civilization and political order."-Walter Scheidel, Financial Times

Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, and governed by precursors of today's states? Most people believe that plant and animal domestication allowed humans, finally, to settle down and form agricultural villages, towns, and states, which made possible civilization, law, public order, and a presumably secure way of living. But archaeological and historical…


Book cover of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

James Blachowicz Author Of The Bilateral Mind as the Mirror of Nature: A Metaphilosophy

From my list on the nature and capacities of our bilateral minds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had equally balanced interests in the arts/humanities and the natural sciences. I like to think that I inherited much of this from my analytical “algebraic” mother, who was a nurse and tended to our family finances, and my holistic “geometrical” father, who was a carpenter. It’s probably no accident that my double major in college was in physics and philosophy...and, down the line, that I should develop a focused interest in human brain laterality, where the division between analysis and holism is so prominent.

James' book list on the nature and capacities of our bilateral minds

James Blachowicz Why did James love this book?

This is an expansive treatment of the intellectual and cultural ramifications of the bilateral mind from ancient times to the present. The dominance of the analytic left hemisphere (the “emissary”), McGilchrist fears, threatens to usurp its experience-grounded “master” – to the detriment of human culture.

While The Master and His Emissary and The Origin of Consciousness cover similar topics, it is interesting and important to note that there are areas where their perspectives complement each other and those where they differ, such as their accounts of schizophrenia. I still find myself vacillating between the two. I sometimes wonder whether my indecision may itself be the result of my own hemispheric split.


By Iain McGilchrist,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Master and His Emissary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A pioneering exploration of the differences between the brain's right and left hemispheres and their effects on society, history, and culture-"one of the few contemporary works deserving classic status" (Nicholas Shakespeare, The Times, London)

"Persuasively argues that our society is suffering from the consequences of an over-dominant left hemisphere losing touch with its natural regulative 'master' the right. Brilliant and disturbing."-Salley Vickers, a Guardian Best Book of the Year

"I know of no better exposition of the current state of functional brain neuroscience."-W. F. Bynum, TLS

Why is the brain divided? The difference between right and left hemispheres has been…


Book cover of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

Craig Nelson Author Of V Is for Victory: Franklin Roosevelt's American Revolution and the Triumph of World War II

From my list on history that will wake you up.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent twenty years as a book publishing executive learning how the trade works before launching myself as a full-time author wanting to make the world a better place. My books use state-of-the-art scholarship for history you can read on the beach, and focus on ‘hinge’ moments, great turnings of the world, as well as on forgotten and unsung heroes.

Craig's book list on history that will wake you up

Craig Nelson Why did Craig love this book?

What ideas do you have about what the first peoples were like, and how human society developed?

Maybe you’ve even read the popular authors on this topic such as Diamond, Harari, Pinker, Hobbes, and Rousseau. Prepare to have all of your notions and received opinions upended and turned to dust by David Graeber (a man universally acknowledged as a genius) and the book he worked on for the last ten years of his life, which brings revolutionary ideas to 30,000 years of civilization.

By David Graeber, David Wengrow,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Dawn of Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution—from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and inequality—and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation.

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike—either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction…


Book cover of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

Kenneth W. Harl Author Of Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

From my list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor Emeritus of Classical and Byzantine History, and I was fascinated by Attila and the Hun and Genghis Khan from early childhood when I decided that I would become a historian. I set out to write the history of the Eurasian nomads from their perspective, and so convey their neglected history to a wider readership.

Kenneth's book list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia

Kenneth W. Harl Why did Kenneth love this book?

A literate history of the economic and religious history of Europe, the Middle East, and adjacent Eursian steppes from fifth century B.C. down to the opening of the twenty-first century. I found the book a delight to read.

The first ten chapters are complementary to my work Empires of the Steppes. Professor Frankopan, however, continues the story to emergence of the global economy based on oceanic trade. The excellent analysis of colonial rivalries of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is a must reading for understanding the geopolitical role of Eurasia today the Belt and Road initiative of China.

By Peter Frankopan,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Silk Roads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The No. 1 Sunday Times and international bestseller - a major reassessment of world history in light of the economic and political renaissance in the re-emerging east For centuries, fame and fortune was to be found in the west - in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is the east which calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia deep into China and India, is taking centre stage in international politics, commerce and culture - and is shaping the modern world. This region, the…


Book cover of Bitch: On the Female of the Species

Lisa McClain Author Of Divided Loyalties? Pushing the Boundaries of Gender and Lay Roles in the Catholic Church, 1534-1829

From my list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do what I do for completely self-interested reasons. I am a woman, wife, and mother; a history professor specializing in the Catholic Church and gender; and a Christian (Episcopalian). I used to compartmentalize those roles. I was a Christian at church, a secular scholar at work, etc. It was exhausting. I was frustrated by conflicting messages about gender and faith from my family, profession, and religion. I wanted to be true to all aspects of my identity in all situations, but how? History is full of people who’ve questioned and adapted at the intersections of gender and religion. I learn from their journeys and add another piece of the puzzle.

Lisa's book list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity

Lisa McClain Why did Lisa love this book?

Cooke’s hilarious, spot-on exploration of how we humans create our understandings of female nature and capabilities may seem an odd starting point, but bear with me.

Cooke exposes how scientists and scholars for centuries have mis-reported and normalized views about males and females that have little to do with actual science and much to do with the gendered attitudes of the scientists. We all have presumptions about gender roles we don’t question.

But to explore the intersections of gender and faith we need to become aware of our pre-conceptions and how we got them. From Dick the sage grouse to elder female leadership within orca pods, you’ll be laughing while gob-smacked at the shaky biological foundation of many of our gender presumptions about what is “natural” for males and females.

By Lucy Cooke,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Hidden History of Women's Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West

Lisa McClain Author Of Divided Loyalties? Pushing the Boundaries of Gender and Lay Roles in the Catholic Church, 1534-1829

From my list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do what I do for completely self-interested reasons. I am a woman, wife, and mother; a history professor specializing in the Catholic Church and gender; and a Christian (Episcopalian). I used to compartmentalize those roles. I was a Christian at church, a secular scholar at work, etc. It was exhausting. I was frustrated by conflicting messages about gender and faith from my family, profession, and religion. I wanted to be true to all aspects of my identity in all situations, but how? History is full of people who’ve questioned and adapted at the intersections of gender and religion. I learn from their journeys and add another piece of the puzzle.

Lisa's book list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity

Lisa McClain Why did Lisa love this book?

So many Christian churches struggle over who ought to lead. Do female priests/pastors fulfill or discount God’s intentions? How does one know? Scripture? Tradition?

Macy digs into the long-term history and finds that women were clearly ordained in the early church, but evidence of that ordination has been erased or explained away. Women used to perform many duties that we associate with religious leadership today, including some sacraments.

Furthermore, some were ordained, receiving vestments, staffs, and mitres. Their gradual exclusion from their traditional roles happened over centuries and was virtually complete by the 13th century, as the Church redefined ordination in ways that excluded women and their ministries.

Then we rewrote the history to make it appear women had never been ordained. Again, no agenda here—just the history.

By Gary Macy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden History of Women's Ordination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Roman Catholic leadership still refuses to ordain women officially or even to recognize that women are capable of ordination. But is the widely held assumption that women have always been excluded from such roles historically accurate? How might the current debate change if our view of the history of women's ordination were to change?
In The Hidden History of Women's Ordination, Gary Macy offers illuminating and surprising answers to these questions. Macy argues that for the first twelve hundred years of Christianity, women were in fact ordained into various roles in the church. He uncovers references to the ordination…


Book cover of Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context

Lisa McClain Author Of Divided Loyalties? Pushing the Boundaries of Gender and Lay Roles in the Catholic Church, 1534-1829

From my list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do what I do for completely self-interested reasons. I am a woman, wife, and mother; a history professor specializing in the Catholic Church and gender; and a Christian (Episcopalian). I used to compartmentalize those roles. I was a Christian at church, a secular scholar at work, etc. It was exhausting. I was frustrated by conflicting messages about gender and faith from my family, profession, and religion. I wanted to be true to all aspects of my identity in all situations, but how? History is full of people who’ve questioned and adapted at the intersections of gender and religion. I learn from their journeys and add another piece of the puzzle.

Lisa's book list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity

Lisa McClain Why did Lisa love this book?

In this inspiring collection, Catholic and Protestant women from nations such as Peru, Korea, South Africa, Australia, and Iceland reveal how women are already leading in a variety of Christian denominations worldwide.

Authors explain their religious communities’ history, ministries, and understandings of gender and religion. Then each shares a religious rite created by the women of their Christian community. The diverse rituals reflect Christianity’s ability to adapt to the needs of believers, meeting them “where they are.”

Examples include the incorporation of indigenous elements in worship; use of the body through dance/artistry; and attention to gendered concerns such as domestic violence, poverty, and reproductive rights. These women’s leadership and rituals are not separate from mainstream Christianity. They are part of it.

A great idea book for people looking to incorporate gender more inclusively into worship.

By Teresa Berger (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With its focus on narratives, its attention to contextual and material realities, and its collection of women-identified liturgies in global context, Dissident Daughters claims prominence within the growing literature on women's ways of worship. This book not only introduces liturgical texts, but focuses on the communities that create and celebrate these liturgies. Dissident Daughters gives voice to the women activists in these communities who show how their communities came into being; how social, cultural, and political realities shaped them and their liturgies; and how they envision their lives in and as communities of faith. In drawing the different narratives together,…


Book cover of The Body and the Blood: The Middle East's Vanishing Christians and the Possibility for Peace

Zachary Wingerd Author Of Syria Crucified: Stories of Modern Martyrdom in an Ancient Christian Land

From my list on Christians in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was infuriated to learn how my government was misrepresenting the recent war in Syria. I learned of this deceit from Syrians who had fled their war-torn country and relayed a very different narrative from the one we're all hearing. From 2016-17 Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History sponsored and archived our collection of audio-recorded interviews of Syrian Christians. This book is the end result of their entrusting us with their harrowing testimonies. I'm a Senior Lecturer in History at Baylor University. I routinely teach, among other courses, the history of the United States from a Global Perspective in which I discuss with my students the same lessons I learned while writing Syria Crucified.

Zachary's book list on Christians in the Middle East

Zachary Wingerd Why did Zachary love this book?

For most people the concept of the Holy Land conjures up visions of Old Testament prophets and arcane holy wars whose harsh landscape was disrupted by the brief appearance of a first-century messiah which left the Roman and Hebrew world in upheaval. Journalist and historian Charles M. Sennott attempts to make sense of what are continuing realities of conflict and unease that the contemporary pilgrim will encounter when visiting the sacred sites connected to Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Sennot lived among those families who continue to make the Holy Land their home in order to better detail the complicated mosaic of modern conflicts involving Israel, Lebanon, and the Palestinians that have shaped the political struggles of today. 

By Charles M. Sennott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the Middle East has gone up in flames, no image so captured the clash of cultures as did the siege at the Church of the Nativity, where Christian monks were trapped inside the fortress-like church, as Palestinian gunmen faced off against the Israeli military for five weeks. As Muslim and Jew battled for control, the Christians were caught in the crossfire: endangered and largely forgotten, victims of somebody else's war. In The Body and the Blood, Charles M. Sennott examines the dwindling Christian communities of the modern Middle East in search of answers to the following questions: Why is…


Book cover of Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World

Sue Prideaux Author Of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Nietzsche

From my list on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by humanity’s search for meaning. That is what I am exploring as I read philosophy and as I write my biographies of extraordinary individuals. Sue Prideaux has written award-winning books on Edvard Munch and his painting The Scream, the playwright August Strindberg, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. She acted as consultant to Sotheby’s when they sold The Scream for a record-breaking $120 million.

Sue's book list on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning

Sue Prideaux Why did Sue love this book?

Nietzsche said “God is dead, but in thousands of years there still may be caves where his shadow will be shown.” Tom Holland traces the effect of the long shadow on our lives.

By Tom Holland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A "marvelous" (Economist) account of how the Christian Revolution forged the Western imagination. Crucifixion, the Romans believed, was the worst fate imaginable, a punishment reserved for slaves. How astonishing it was, then, that people should have come to believe that one particular victim of crucifixion-an obscure provincial by the name of Jesus-was to be worshipped as a god. Dominion explores the implications of this shocking conviction as they have reverberated throughout history. Today, the West remains utterly saturated by Christian assumptions. As Tom Holland demonstrates, our morals and ethics are not universal but are instead the fruits of a very…


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