100 books like Encyclopaedia Biblica

By John Sutherland Black, Thomas Kelly Cheyne,

Here are 100 books that Encyclopaedia Biblica fans have personally recommended if you like Encyclopaedia Biblica. 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 The Roman Revolution

Mark Koyama Author Of How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth

From my list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated with history. The study of economic history allows me to combine my passion for understanding the past with a rigorous and systematic set of analytical tools. In my own work I'm interested in understanding the economic, political, and institutional transformations that have created the modern world. The books I've selected here help us better understand quite how different the past and they have proven to be invaluable to me as inspirations. 

Mark's book list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies

Mark Koyama Why did Mark love this book?

Syme was wrote about the fall of the Roman Republic in the shadow of the rise of totalitarianism. 

But for me what is most interesting about this book is its use of collective biography and its argument that the rise of Caesar and Augustus is best understood as the rise of a party or a faction. Most books on the Late Republic focus on the larger-than-life personalities: Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, and Cicero. Syme focuses on structures and systematic factors.

He writes with an at times jarring cynicism. His treatment of Cicero is particularly critical for example. For Syme, all states are governed by coalitions of elites.

And the writing is unforgettable: "a monarchy rules through an oligarchy"; "at its worst, biography is flat and schematic: at its best, it is often baffled by the hidden discords of human nature... undue insistence on upon the character and exploits of a single…

By Ronald Syme,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Roman Revolution is a profound and unconventional treatment of a great theme - the fall of the Republic and the decline of freedom in Rome between 60 BC and AD 14, and the rise to power of the greatest of the Roman Emperors, Augustus. The transformation of state and society, the violent transference of power and property, and the establishment of Augustus' rule are presented in an unconventional narrative, which quotes from ancient evidence, refers
seldomly to modern authorities, and states controversial opinions quite openly. The result is a book which is both fresh and compelling.

Book cover of Marcus Aurelius: A Biography

Donald J. Robertson Author Of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. I am one of the founders of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit organisation and the president and founder of the Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. I’ve published six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, mostly focusing on the Stoic philosophy and its relationship with modern psychology and evidence-based psychotherapy.

Donald's book list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Why did Donald love this book?

Although some people assume we don’t know much about Marcus Aurelius, the truth is that we probably know more about him than most other ancient philosophers, and certainly, there are several modern biographies of Marcus Aurelius but the best is this one by the British historian, Anthony Birley. Birley adopts a scholarly approach but he also keeps quite a tight focus on the events of Marcus’ life. (Frank McLynn’s biography is more widely-read but ranges more freely over topics such as the Roman empire’s economy.)  

By Anthony Birley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor who ruled the Roman Empire between AD 161 and 180, is one of the best recorded individuals from antiquity. Even his face became more than usually familiar: the imperial coinage displayed his portrait for over 40 years, from the clean-shaven young heir of Antonius to the war-weary, heavily bearded ruler who died at his post in his late fifties.
His correspondence with his tutor Fronto, and even more the private notebook he kept for his last ten years, the Meditations, provides a unique series of vivid and revealing glimpses into the character and peoccupations of this…

Book cover of Myth of Persecution

Henry Davis Author Of Creating Christianity - A Weapon Of Ancient Rome

From my list on ancient history that challenge assumptions.

Why am I passionate about this?

Henry Davis is an independent historical researcher who has been studying ancient history for over 20 years. Even though he wanted to embark on a formal education studying the Classics, he suffered from extreme anxiety and felt he could not do so. He resorted to self-study, with help from family and friends, who had degrees in Classical studies, and began reading the work of respected historians/scholars/classicists, Dame Mary Beard, Tom Holland, Sir Ronald Syme, Gavin Townend, and Anthony Birley, to name only a few.

Henry's book list on ancient history that challenge assumptions

Henry Davis Why did Henry love this book?

Certain events that the ancient writers described, do not always seem to fit within the time they were writing, and I very much enjoy books that question what was written. In my opinion, this book by Candida Moss is very provocative, as it challenges the traditional view of the alleged persecution of Christians. A particular point she makes is in regards to the Roman historian, Tacitus, she states: ‘Tacitus’s Annals dates to 115-20 (CE), at least fifty years after the events he describes. His use of the term “Christian” is somewhat anachronistic. It’s highly unlikely that, at the time the Great Fire occurred, anyone recognized Jesus followers as a distinct and separate group.’ Although this book leaves questions unanswered, it offers a great deal to think about. Another scholar of note, who also argues against the idea that Christians were a special group being attacked by the Roman state or…

By Candida Moss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss, a leading expert on early Christianity, reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors.
According to cherished church tradition and popular belief, before the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the fourth century, early Christians were systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire intent on their destruction. As the story goes, vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions, tortured, or burned alive because…

Book cover of The Jewish War

Lena Einhorn Author Of A Shift in Time: How Historical Documents Reveal the Surprising Truth about Jesus

From my list on ancient religious texts and actual history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lena Einhorn is a writer and filmmaker, with a background in medicine. She has portrayed Greta Garbo’s life before the breakthrough, in the novel Blekinge Street 32, and in Nina’s Journey, she told the story of her mother, one of the last to leave the Warsaw ghetto alive. Nina’s Journey also became a feature film, written and directed by Einhorn. The book received the National Book Award of Sweden, and the film received the National Film Award for best picture and best script, as well as a number of international awards. In 2019 the critically acclaimed autobiographical novel The Thin Ice came out.

Lena's book list on ancient religious texts and actual history

Lena Einhorn Why did Lena love this book?

This is the parallel companion book to the New Testament, for anyone who wants to try to discern "the true story behind the religious text." And it is also the biggest impediment to all historians and biblical scholars who have attempted to portray Jesus and his disciples as historical individuals. He simply does not seem to be there (if one excepts the paragraph "Testimonium Flavianum", which has been added or amended by later scribes). But perhaps he does... If one looks slightly beneath the surface....

By Flavius Josephus,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Jewish War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Josephus' account of a war marked by treachery and atrocity is a superbly detailed and evocative record of the Jewish rebellion against Rome between AD 66 and 70. Originally a rebel leader, Josephus changed sides after he was captured to become a Rome-appointed negotiator, and so was uniquely placed to observe these turbulent events, from the siege of Jerusalem to the final heroic resistance and mass suicides at Masada. His account provides much of what we know about the history of the Jews under Roman rule, with vivid portraits of such key figures as the Emperor Vespasian and Herod the…

Book cover of The Penguin Dictionary of Ancient History

Nigel Rodgers Author Of The Colosseum From AD80 To The Present Day

From my list on daily life in ancient Athens and Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by ancient Greece and Rome since I first saw Italy and Greece as a teenager, revisiting them whenever I can. I studied ancient history at Cambridge University and have written eight books about it, most recently The Colosseum. After living in Paris, Rome, and London, I am now based in Wiltshire in southwest England, almost within sight of Stonehenge. There is a small megalith outside my own house.

Nigel's book list on daily life in ancient Athens and Rome

Nigel Rodgers Why did Nigel love this book?

Dictionaries are not usually meant to be fun but this fact-packed book is so well-written that it is a joy to read. Wonder who on earth was Cicero? What the Punic wars were all about? How the Greeks defeated the Persians at the Battle of Salamis? What was so special about Greek theatre? And why  Rome conquered Britain? You will find all the answers here. Besides military and political events, it covers literature, philosophy, art, religion, sport, and society, all the way from 776BC and the first Olympic Games to the end of the Roman Empire in the west in AD476.

By Graham Speake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ranging from the year of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC to the fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476, this dictionary contains over 2000 entries providing a reference guide to the ancient Greco-Roman world. It includes entries on personalities, events, politics, literature, art and society.

Book cover of Power, Piety, and Patronage in Late Medieval Queenship: Maria de Luna

Zita Eva Rohr Author Of Yolande of Aragon (1381-1442) Family and Power: The Reverse of the Tapestry

From my list on premodern women of power and influence.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, I was forever drawing pictures of princesses in elaborate medieval and early modern dress. I devoured history books—especially those containing artworks that helped me visualize the people whose names rang out from their pages. Inexplicably, I was passionate about France and French language and culture from my primary school years. Then, in my early twenties, I stumbled onto Umberto Eco’s, The Name of the Rose, which appeared in English translation around 1983. History has been, and remains, my passion (as do whodunits). I have been passionately obsessed with in my research for over two decades—uncovering the truth that lies beneath the spin and the ashes.  

Zita's book list on premodern women of power and influence

Zita Eva Rohr Why did Zita love this book?

This book appeared just as I was on the point of completing my doctoral thesis. It helped me to understand the importance of examining a queen and/or elite premodern woman’s networks—familial, political, diplomatic, friendship and how these networks underpinned her use of both soft and indeed hard power. When the document trail goes cold in the archives, looking more closely at female networks and how they played out is a great way of overcoming gaps and erasures—both deliberate and accidental. It remains a durable and very influential study and a bonus for non-Ibericists as it is in English.

By Nuria Silleras-Fernandez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Power, Piety, and Patronage in Late Medieval Queenship as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on an exhaustive and varied study of predominantly unpublished archival material as well as a variety of literary and non-literary sources, this book investigates the relation between patronage, piety and politics in the life and career of one Late Medieval Spain's most intriguing female personalities, Maria De Luna.

Book cover of Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World

Guy D. Middleton Author Of Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World: From the Palaeolithic to the Byzantines

From my list on real women in the ancient Mediterranean.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World: From the Palaeolithic to the Byzantines when my partner and I found out that we were having a daughter. I finished it just as daughter number two appeared! I wanted to write something they could connect with easily as young women to share my lifelong passion for Mediterranean history. I grew up inspired by my local landscape of castles and ruins, trips to Greece, Michael Wood documentaries, and lots of books. I studied ancient history and archaeology at Newcastle University and later got my PhD from Durham University. I’ve written on various aspects of the ancient world in journals, magazines, websites, and my previous books.

Guy's book list on real women in the ancient Mediterranean

Guy D. Middleton Why did Guy love this book?

I came across this book in the early days of writing my own – and it was inspirational.

It’s massive, with 74 chapters, but taken individually these are not in themselves long or difficult reads. We find women of all stations from prostitutes to queens, wet nurses to dancers, and female gladiators introduced, and range in time from the Bronze Age to the Romans.

The authors draw inclusively on multiple approaches and types of evidence, bodies, material culture, iconography, texts, and more. Apart from the vast coverage, the philosophy of the volume as set out by the editors was compelling: to look at ‘real women’ themselves, not mythical women or goddesses, and to emphasize their bodies and names.

It’s a treasure trove for anyone interested in women in the ancient world.

By Stephanie Lynn Budin (editor), Jean Macintosh Turfa (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume gathers brand new essays from some of the most respected scholars of ancient history, archaeology, and physical anthropology to create an engaging overview of the lives of women in antiquity. The book is divided into ten sections, nine focusing on a particular area, and also includes almost 200 images, maps, and charts. The sections cover Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia, Cyprus, the Levant, the Aegean, Italy, and Western Europe, and include many lesser-known cultures such as the Celts, Iberia, Carthage, the Black Sea region, and Scandinavia. Women's experiences are explored, from ordinary daily life to religious ritual and practice, to…

Book cover of International Relations in the Ancient Near East, 1600-1100 BC

Alejandro Jiménez Serrano Author Of Descendants of a Lesser God: Regional Power in Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt

From my list on Ancient Egypt from a peripheral perspective.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Egyptology permits me to make an approach to the human past. Although there were many different cultures from which the current society is heir, the survival of innumerable written documents from ancient Egypt together with the good conservation of the archaeological material, give us the possibility to feel closer to the humans who lived in the Nile Valley thousands of years ago.

Alejandro's book list on Ancient Egypt from a peripheral perspective

Alejandro Jiménez Serrano Why did Alejandro love this book?

I have chosen this work for the Egyptology list because Ancient Egypt must be ideally analyzed into a regional context, which overpasses its borders. In this sense, the present work is a magnificent example of how all the cultures of the Near East were integrated within a network of more or less fluid contacts.

Professor Liverani's work shows the mastery of the great scholar who knows all the sources and analyzes them from a new diplomatic, economic, anthropological, and political perspective.

By Mario Liverani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked International Relations in the Ancient Near East, 1600-1100 BC as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ancient civilizations of the Near East - Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, the Hittites and Canaanites - constituted the first formalized international relations system in world history. Holy wars, peace treaties, border regulations, trade relations and the extradition of refugees were problems for contemporary ambassadors and diplomats as they are today. Mario Liverani reconstructs the procedures of international relations in the period c.1600-1100BC using historical semiotics, communication theory and economic and political anthropology.

Book cover of The Histories (Translated by Robin Waterfield)

David Austin Beck Author Of The Greek Prince of Afghanistan

From my list on understanding the Scythians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an author who believes that history contains an endless number of stories of how our past peers dealt with and contributed to the tension, fusion, and reinvention that is human existence. When writing The Greek Prince of Afghanistan, which focuses on the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom of ancient Afghanistan, I included a Scythian character, because I felt the novel’s story, like humanity’s story, is best told through multiple perspectives. The above books helped me greatly in that effort.

David's book list on understanding the Scythians

David Austin Beck Why did David love this book?

If one wanted to understand the study of the galaxy, they might start with Galileo. Something similar could be said about starting with the historian Herodotus to understand ancient peoples (and the study of them). Was he serious about his craft? Yes. Was he a product of his time? Yes. Should you take everything he writes as fact? Absolutely not. So why read Herodotus? Because he was the first person (as far as I know) to study the Scythians for the purpose of scholarship. Moreover, his work contains many of the stories that scholars since his time have tried to prove, disprove, or reinterpret. In short, if you want to join a conversation, it can be helpful to know how it began.

By Herodotus, Robin Waterfield (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Histories (Translated by Robin Waterfield) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Herodotus is not only known as the `father of history', as Cicero called him, but also the father of ethnography; as well as charting the historical background to the Persian Wars, his curiosity also prompts frequent digression on the cultures of the peoples he introduces. While much of the information he gives has proved to be astonishingly accurate, he also entertains us with delightful tales of one-eyed men and gold-digging ants. This readable new translation is
supplemented with expansive notes that provide readers the background that they need to appreciate the book in depth.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100…

Book cover of The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories

David Stuttard Author Of Phoenix: A Father, a Son, and the Rise of Athens

From my list on understanding classical Greece.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since my father introduced me to the Greeks, I’ve been passionate about the ancient world and bringing it alive. I read Classics at university and taught for eleven years, during which time I founded the award-winning theatre company, Actors of Dionysus, dedicated to performing Greek drama in translation. A highlight was staging my adaptation of Trojan Women not just in Ephesus Theatre but besides the walls of Troy. From 2010, I’ve divided my time between writing books and articles on wide-ranging classical subjects, editing Bloomsbury Academic Press’ ‘Looking at…’ series on Greek drama (which include my translations), book-reviewing, lecturing, and directing theatrical performances (most recently with Dame Sian Phillips).

David's book list on understanding classical Greece

David Stuttard Why did David love this book?

For anyone wanting to find out not just what happened in the Graeco-Persian Wars (490–479 BC) but how their participants viewed the world, Herodotus’ Histories are a treasure trove. Writing a generation after the event, Herodotus travelled widely, interviewing as many people as he could from veterans to Egyptian priests. But readers must be wary: Herodotus wasn’t writing history as we understand it. Instead, he blended fact, anecdote, and moralizing to demonstrate why in his view the Greek way of life (especially Athenian democracy) was superior to Persian totalitarianism, and why Persian hubris merited divine punishment. While the Landmark edition’s translation of Herodotus’ seductive prose may not be the best (Tom Holland’s, for example, is better), the number and clarity of its maps make it invaluable.

By Robert B. Strassler (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 5th century BC an adventurous Ionian Greek, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, journeyed extensively through the lands of the eastern Mediterranean, from Egypt to Asia Minor, collecting tales of the upheavals that had afflicted the region in the earlier part of the century. The fruits of his wanderings were The Histories, in which he used his narrative gifts not only to chronicle the rise of the Achaemenid Persian Empire and its war with the Greek city-states, but also to recount his experiences with the varied peoples and cultures he had encountered during his journey.
Herodotus earned the nickname 'the father…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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