100 books like Constantine's Sword

By James Christopher Carroll,

Here are 100 books that Constantine's Sword fans have personally recommended if you like Constantine's Sword. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

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

From my list on early Christianity.

Who am I?

Barrie is an historian specializing in early Christianity. Today we now know that there were many different movements within the first few centuries, each claiming to be Christian. James’ Jewish group differed from Paul’s Christ religion and both differed from Gnostic Christianity which saw Jesus as a teacher of insight. None was dominant. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic writings add an intriguing overlay. The books selected are those that open up new ways of understanding the historical development of Christianity. Each in its own way has created a paradigm shift.

Barrie's book list on early Christianity

Barrie Wilson Why did Barrie love 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.

By James D. Tabor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If you thought Dan Brown's fiction was gripping, try the truth. This controversial book pieces together new evidence on the real life of Jesus. The true inspiration behind Kathy Reich's bestselling thriller, "Crossbones", archaeologist and scholar James Tabor takes us on a startling journey that changes the story of Christianity as we know it. Based on hand-on archaeological experience and ground-breaking academic research, real-life Indiana Jones, James Tabor, has produced a compelling and bold new interpretation of the life of Jesus and the origins of Christianity. So impressive is his work that Kathy Reichs, bestselling mystery writer of the "Tempe…


Book cover of The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity

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

From my list on early Christianity.

Who am I?

Barrie is an historian specializing in early Christianity. Today we now know that there were many different movements within the first few centuries, each claiming to be Christian. James’ Jewish group differed from Paul’s Christ religion and both differed from Gnostic Christianity which saw Jesus as a teacher of insight. None was dominant. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic writings add an intriguing overlay. The books selected are those that open up new ways of understanding the historical development of Christianity. Each in its own way has created a paradigm shift.

Barrie's book list on early Christianity

Barrie Wilson Why did Barrie love 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.

By Hyam Maccoby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Argues that Jesus Christ never broke away from Judaism and that the Christian religion was founded by Paul


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.

Who am I?

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 The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity

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

From my list on early Christianity.

Who am I?

Barrie is an historian specializing in early Christianity. Today we now know that there were many different movements within the first few centuries, each claiming to be Christian. James’ Jewish group differed from Paul’s Christ religion and both differed from Gnostic Christianity which saw Jesus as a teacher of insight. None was dominant. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic writings add an intriguing overlay. The books selected are those that open up new ways of understanding the historical development of Christianity. Each in its own way has created a paradigm shift.

Barrie's book list on early Christianity

Barrie Wilson Why did Barrie love 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.

By Jeffrey J. Butz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reveals the true role of James, the brother of Jesus, in early Christianity

• Uses evidence from the canonical Gospels, apocryphal texts, and the writings of the Church Fathers to reveal the teachings of Jesus as transmitted to his chosen successor: James

• Demonstrates how the core message in the teachings of Jesus is an expansion not a repudiation of the Jewish religion

• Shows how James can serve as a bridge between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam

James has been a subject of controversy since the founding of the Church. Evidence that Jesus had siblings contradicts Church dogma on the…


Book cover of The Making of Late Antiquity

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Who am I?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

The historian Peter Brown is the great expert on the late Roman/early Christian era, and he writes like a scholarly poet. I don’t think anyone has done a better job of putting the lives and thoughts of Christian intellectuals and laypeople in the context of a Roman society experiencing convulsive, transformative change. This book will change your views of both Roman and Christian cultures. If you’re like me, it will lead you to read Brown’s other works, such as his epic 2012 study, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD.

By Peter Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Peter Brown presents a masterly history of Roman society in the second, third, and fourth centuries. Brown interprets the changes in social patterns and religious thought, breaking away from conventional modern images of the period.


Book cover of Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Who am I?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

In this lively and knowledgeable history of Christian controversies of the fifth century CE, Philip Jenkins produces a valuable and colorful sequel to the story told in When Jesus Became God. This book reveals what happened after the Council of Constantinople adopted a Trinitarian view of Jesus and Roman power shifted to the Byzantine East. The council “settled” the Arian controversy for the time being but generated an even more ferocious series of battles over Jesus’ divine/human nature and the relationship of Christianity to Greek thought. As the book’s subtitle suggests, Jenkins has a fine time showing how an admixture of imperial politics, Church politics, and theological ideas created “orthodox” Christian thought and practice. 

By John Philip Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tells the fascinating, violent story of the Church's fifth century battles over 'right belief' that had a far greater impact on the future of Christianity and the world than the much-touted Council of Nicea convened by Constantine a century before.


Book cover of A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans, and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Who am I?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

The year 381 marked the point at which the new Roman emperor, Theodosius, convened the Church council that outlawed Arianism and made Jesus’ role as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity, an essential part of Christian orthodoxy. For the historian Charles Freeman, this noxious combination of secular and ecclesiastical power stands as the origin of the development he described earlier in The Closing of the Western Mind (Anchor, 2005). Freeman’s analysis of the “Greek-ification” of Christian thinking is very sharp, and he tells the story of Theodosius well, even if he sometimes seems to be reading elements of modern dictatorial leadership back into that emperor’s character. A stimulating, provocative read. 

By Charles Freeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A.D. 381 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In A.D. 381, Theodosius, emperor of the eastern Roman empire, issued a decree in which all his subjects were required to subscribe to a belief in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This edict defined Christian orthodoxy and brought to an end a lively and wide-ranging debate about the nature of God; all other interpretations were now declared heretical. It was the first time in a thousand years of Greco-Roman civilization free thought was unambiguously suppressed. Why has Theodosius's revolution been airbrushed from the historical record? In this groundbreaking book, acclaimed historian Charles Freeman argues that Theodosius's…


Book cover of The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Who am I?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

Sir Anthony Buzzard, the leader of a self-described “Biblical Unitarian” church, and co-author Charles F. Hunting have written a learned, strongly argued polemic against the Trinitarian doctrine that is still accepted by most believing Christians.  As a non-Christian, I do not take sides in the continuing debate over the relationship of the Son to the Father, but the debate does continue, and Sir Anthony’s book is a must for those interested in it.  It can be read usefully in conjunction with his later study, Jesus Was Not A Trinitarian (Restoration Fellowship, 2007).       

By Anthony Buzzard, Charles F. Hunting,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This important work is a detailed biblical investigation of the relationship of Jesus to the one God of Israel. The authors challenge the notion that biblical monotheism is legitimately represented by a Trinitarian view of God and demonstrate that within the bounds of the canon of Scripture Jesus is confessed as Messiah, Son of God, but not God Himself. Later Christological developments beginning in the second century misrepresented the biblical doctrine of God and Christ by altering the terms of the biblical presentation of the Father and Son. This fateful development laid the foundation of a revised, unscriptural creed that…


Book cover of From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965

Kevin P. Spicer and Rebecca Carter-Chand Author Of Religion, Ethnonationalism, and Antisemitism in the Era of the Two World Wars

From my list on Catholic churches in Hitler’s Germany.

Who are we?

We are historians of twentieth-century Germany who investigate the relationship between church and state from 1918-1945. We are fascinated by the choices of Christian leaders during this time as they negotiated the challenges of living and leading under National Socialism. In our writing, we seek to understand the connections between Christian antisemitism and National Socialists’ racial-based exclusionary ethnonationalism and antisemitism and seek to understand how religious communities navigate ethical and practical challenges of living through political upheaval and fascism.

Kevin's book list on Catholic churches in Hitler’s Germany

Kevin P. Spicer and Rebecca Carter-Chand Why did Kevin love this book?

In From Enemy to Brother, John Connelly, observes, “If there was a neighbor needing a Good Samaritan in the 1930s it was the Jew, yet the day’s moral theology placed Jews on the lowest rung of the ‘hierarchy of love’: after family, after other Catholics, and after members of one’s nation and race.” Jews who converted to Christianity failed to advance much higher. As Connelly shows, at least in Central and Eastern Europe, some Catholic theologians taught that conversion did not immediately free Jews of their Jewish heritage. It could take generations before Christianity completely took hold. Catholic anti-Judaic deicide teaching, fueled by centuries of Christian antisemitism, bore and nourished such a negative outlook toward Jews. In the 1930s, Catholic theologians only had to take one step further to link their primitive view of Jews and Jewish converts to the prevailing National Socialist racial teaching. The result produced an…

By John Connelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Enemy to Brother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1965 the Second Vatican Council declared that God loves the Jews. Before that, the Church had taught for centuries that Jews were cursed by God and, in the 1940s, mostly kept silent as Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. How did an institution whose wisdom is said to be unchanging undertake one of the most enormous, yet undiscussed, ideological swings in modern history?

The radical shift of Vatican II grew out of a buried history, a theological struggle in Central Europe in the years just before the Holocaust, when a small group of Catholic converts (especially former Jew Johannes…


Book cover of Figuring Racism in Medieval Christianity

Geraldine Heng Author Of The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages

From my list on race before the modern era.

Who am I?

I’m that infamous medievalist who wrote the big book on medieval race. It took 20 years of thinking and research, and a whole lot of writing, but now people are convinced that there was, indeed, such a thing as race and racism between the 11th and 15th centuries in the West (aka Christendom/Europe). I'm Perceval Professor of English and Comparative Literature, with a joint appointment in Middle Eastern studies and Women’s studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Geraldine's book list on race before the modern era

Geraldine Heng Why did Geraldine love this book?

In the European Middle Ages—the millennium-long era in the West after antiquity and before the modern period—Christianity was the first and last authority for all sources of knowledge and forms of reasoning.  This important book shows in great detail how medieval Christian theology produced arguments and rationales that enabled racism against Jews during the centuries of the long medieval period.

By M. Lindsay Kaplan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Figuring Racism in Medieval Christianity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Figuring Racism in Medieval Christianity, M. Lindsay Kaplan expands the study of the history of racism through an analysis of the Christian concept of Jewish hereditary inferiority. Imagined as a figural slavery, this idea anticipates modern racial ideologies in creating a status of permanent, inherent subordination. Unlike other studies of early forms of racism, this book places theological discourses at the center of its analysis. It traces an
intellectual history of the Christian doctrine of servitus Judaeorum, or Jewish enslavement, imposed as punishment for the crucifixion. This concept of hereditary inferiority, formulated in patristic and medieval exegesis through the…


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