98 books like How to Read the Bible

By James L. Kugel,

Here are 98 books that How to Read the Bible fans have personally recommended if you like How to Read the Bible. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Who Wrote the Bible?

Michael L. Satlow Author Of How the Bible Became Holy

From my list on how to read the Bible.

Why am I passionate about this?

No matter how you read it, the Bible is a strange book. It weaves together beautiful narratives and deadly-dull genealogies; uplifting messages with passages that many today find ethically repulsive. Yet it gained an extraordinary authority, in a predominantly pre-literate society. The question of how this happened has been an intellectual and scholarly preoccupation of mine for decades, and as a professor at Brown University I seek to bring my students and readers into this very foreign world in order to open their eyes to new possibilities in the present.

Michael's book list on how to read the Bible

Michael L. Satlow Why did Michael love this book?

Who Wrote the Bible? is my go-to book for explaining to undergraduates the classic Documentary Hypothesis, that is, the theory that describes how humans wrote and edited the Bible. Friedman’s style is clear and engaging, and he frames his explanation as an academic mystery. I (with other scholars) don’t always agree with his conclusions, but they responsible and worth considering. My students regularly note that this was their favorite book of the semester.

By Richard Elliott Friedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Wrote the Bible? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A much anticipated reissue of Who Wrote the Bible?—the contemporary classic the New York Times Book Review called “a thought-provoking [and] perceptive guide” that identifies the individual writers of the Pentateuch and explains what they can teach us about the origins of the Bible.

For thousands of years, the prophet Moses was regarded as the sole author of the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch. According to tradition, Moses was divinely directed to write down foundational events in the history of the world: the creation of humans, the worldwide flood, the laws as they were handed…


Book cover of Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity

Dawn Baumann Brunke Author Of Awakening the Ancient Power of Snake: Transformation, Healing, and Enlightenment

From my list on the history, mystery, and healing power of snakes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an animal communicator and author of many books about our deeper connections with the animal world. A powerful dream featuring an archetypal Snake ignited my curiosity about snakes and inspired me to learn more. I immersed myself into the history, biology, and incredible diversity of snakes as well as their role in art, myth, medicine, and dreams. I also lived with two rescue snakes: a shy ball python named Carl and lively corn snake named Chloe. What I found was not only fascinating but life-changing. This book celebrates the mystery of Snake and the undeniable wisdom and healing that it offers our world.  

Dawn's book list on the history, mystery, and healing power of snakes

Dawn Baumann Brunke Why did Dawn love this book?

A thorough look at the origins of Christianity and how the once powerful role of serpent (along with the goddess) was undermined and cast as a tempter and deceiver.

Pagels details how a rigidly-patriarchal interpretation of Genesis perpetuates the myth of separation and disconnection from spirit, nature, and ourselves. While snakes as animals are not covered in any depth, this book does explore why negative perceptions of snake still figure so prominently in Western collective consciousness. 

By Elaine Pagels,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author deepens and refreshes our view of early Christianity while casting a disturbing light on the evolution of the attitudes passed down to us. 

"Confirms her reputation as both a scholar and a popular interpreter.... Continuously rewarding and illuminating." —The New York Times

How did the early Christians come to believe that sex was inherently sinful? When did the Fall of Adam become synonymous with the fall of humanity? What turned Christianity from a dissident sect that  championed the integrity of the individual and the idea of free will into…


Book cover of The Jewish Study Bible

Michael L. Satlow Author Of How the Bible Became Holy

From my list on how to read the Bible.

Why am I passionate about this?

No matter how you read it, the Bible is a strange book. It weaves together beautiful narratives and deadly-dull genealogies; uplifting messages with passages that many today find ethically repulsive. Yet it gained an extraordinary authority, in a predominantly pre-literate society. The question of how this happened has been an intellectual and scholarly preoccupation of mine for decades, and as a professor at Brown University I seek to bring my students and readers into this very foreign world in order to open their eyes to new possibilities in the present.

Michael's book list on how to read the Bible

Michael L. Satlow Why did Michael love this book?

I’m going to cheat here and put this book together with two others, The Jewish Annotated New Testament and The Jewish Annotated Apocrypha. Each of these three books has the biblical text; explanatory notes that include scholarly perspectives; and a lengthy set of essays by well-noted scholars. All of these parts of the Bible were written (primarily) by and for Jews in antiquity—including much of the New Testament—and these books seek to recover how they were read and functioned in antiquity.

By Adele Berlin (editor), Marc Zvi Brettler (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 2004, The Jewish Study Bible is a landmark, one-volume resource tailored especially for the needs of students of the Hebrew Bible. It has won acclaim from readers in all religious traditions.

The Jewish Study Bible combines the entire Hebrew Bible-in the celebrated Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation-with explanatory notes, introductory materials, and essays by leading biblical scholars on virtually every aspect of the text, the world in which it was written, its interpretation, and its role in Jewish life. The quality of scholarship, easy-to-navigate format, and vibrant supplementary features bring the ancient text to life.

This second…


Book cover of A Guide for the Perplexed

Michael L. Satlow Author Of How the Bible Became Holy

From my list on how to read the Bible.

Why am I passionate about this?

No matter how you read it, the Bible is a strange book. It weaves together beautiful narratives and deadly-dull genealogies; uplifting messages with passages that many today find ethically repulsive. Yet it gained an extraordinary authority, in a predominantly pre-literate society. The question of how this happened has been an intellectual and scholarly preoccupation of mine for decades, and as a professor at Brown University I seek to bring my students and readers into this very foreign world in order to open their eyes to new possibilities in the present.

Michael's book list on how to read the Bible

Michael L. Satlow Why did Michael love this book?

Although this is my fun pick, it is also a serious book that I use in the classroom. There have been countless attempts by modern authors to retell biblical stories. Horn’s book creatively transfers the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers to the modern period, with a feminist twist. This book is engaging and coherent enough that it can be read and enjoyed without any knowledge of the Bible or Jewish history, although such knowledge makes it all the better!

By Dara Horn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When she visits the Library of Alexandria as a tech consultant, she is abducted in Egypt's postrevolutionary chaos with only a copy of the philosopher Maimonides' famous work to anchor her-leaving her jealous sister Judith free to take over her life. A century earlier, Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter arrives in Egypt, hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. Their stories intertwine in this spellbinding novel of how technology changes memory and how memory shapes the soul.


Book cover of The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

Lori Banov Kaufmann Author Of Rebel Daughter

From my list on Jewish books you'll ever read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always believed that history isn’t a dry record of events; it’s a portal to the human soul, one that connects us to all the people who lived before. Diving into books about the history of the Jewish people connects me not only intellectually, but also emotionally. I was inspired to write Rebel Daughter as soon as I learned of the ancient gravestone of a Jewish woman. I was so intrigued by the unlikely but true love story the stone revealed that I spent the next ten years with some of the world's leading scholars and archaeologists to bring the real characters to life as accurately as possible. I have degrees from Princeton and Harvard and live in Israel.

Lori's book list on Jewish books you'll ever read

Lori Banov Kaufmann Why did Lori love this book?

Because how can you have a list of the greatest Jewish books of all time without this? (apologies for putting it in last place!). The one that has defined life as we know it yet so few of us have ever really read. Actually, "reading" seems too gentle a word for what happens when you dive into this ancient text - grappling, struggling, or wrestling seem more apt. The pre-eminent scholar Robert Alter renders the ancient Hebrew into a powerful, faithful English translation which soars.

By Unknown, Robert Alter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A masterpiece of deep learning and fine sensibility, Robert Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible, now complete, reanimates one of the formative works of our culture. Capturing its brilliantly compact poetry and finely wrought, purposeful prose, Alter renews the Old Testament as a source of literary power and spiritual inspiration. From the family frictions of Genesis and King David's flawed humanity to the serene wisdom of Psalms and Job's incendiary questioning of God's ways, these magnificent works of world literature resonate with a startling immediacy. Featuring Alter's generous commentary, which quietly alerts readers to the literary and historical dimensions of…


Book cover of The Book of All Books

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?

Using state-of-the-art scholarship and his own vast erudition, Calasso reveals the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament)—the foundational text of Judaism and Christianity—in a whole new way.

You will time and again be shocked by this book, and swear that he must be making things up, that these wild tales can’t possibly be in the Bible… yet indeed, all of them are there. A revolutionary book on a revolutionary religion. 

By Roberto Calasso, Tim Parks (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A book that begins before Adam and ends after us. In this magisterial work by the Italian intellectual superstar Roberto Calasso, figures of the Bible and its whole outline emerge in a new light: one that is often astonishing and disquieting, as indeed―more than any other―is the book from which they originate

Roberto Calasso’s The Book of All Books is a narration that moves through the Bible as if through a forest, where every branch―every verse―may offer some revelation. Where a man named Saul becomes the first king of a people because his father sent him off to search for…


Book cover of Holy Bible

Jonathan R.P. Taylor Author Of Meat: Memoirs Of A Psychopath

From my list on most disturbing stories that you can not put down.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning British singer/songwriter who you have probably never heard of. Since completing my first novel I’ve also titled many other multi-genre works. My passion is based on anything and everything that has never been done before. I say this; “If you wish to feel happy, take a pill - if you seek a cure, then face the truth.” I’ve written songs about 9/11, The Holocaust, Execution by hanging in Iran – all themes that many would say are ‘unapproachable’. I am a Neurodiverse writer who won the Principal’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Education – let me share that success with you. My disability is a gift, not a curse.

Jonathan's book list on most disturbing stories that you can not put down

Jonathan R.P. Taylor Why did Jonathan love this book?

I appreciate that this may be quite random but I had to read it to obtain multiple references as the wider plot grew into that of the Gabriel Sect – when the original killer develops a ‘fan club’.

I am now an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church – but I am not Christian. I believe in both freedom of and freedom from religion.

I certainly do not set out to offend anyone and welcome all faiths and alternate beliefs, but this I would say. If the Holy Bible were to be published today, given the huge doses of incest, sodomy, and extreme violence it contains, it would be considered - unsuitable for children.

I wanted to understand how specific biblical and ancient texts could be exploited by cults, I naturally chose the worst. I appreciate that this is counteracted by equal doses of kindness and goodness within the…

By Unknown,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Holy Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an attractive new slipcase and binding, this compact Bible is an ideal gift and spiritual companion.

The full text of the ever-popular Authorized King James Version Bible, with all its literary beauty and poetic grandeur, in an attractive size and with beautiful binding and slipcase
making it an ideal gift.

Includes silver gilt edged pages and white marker ribbon.


Book cover of Sacred Witness: Rape in the Hebrew Bible

Joy Schroeder Author Of Dinah's Lament: The Biblical Legacy of Sexual Violence in Christian Interpretation

From my list on sexual violence in the Bible.

Why am I passionate about this?

Joy Schroeder is a historian devoted to examining the experiences of women in Christianity and Judaism. With concern for female and male victims of violence, Schroeder scrutinizes historical documents to find accounts of harassment, rape, clergy sexual abuse, and other violence. She brings the historical accounts to light while critiquing the cultural patterns that perpetuate violence in our own day. In her work as a pastor and as a professor, she has worked to support victims of harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence, and child abuse. Schroeder is a professor of church history at Capital University (Columbus, Ohio), where she teaches at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and the department of religion and philosophy. 

Joy's book list on sexual violence in the Bible

Joy Schroeder Why did Joy love this book?

Susanne Scholz says readers should consider biblical accounts of sexual violence to be “sacred witness” to the horrific reality of rape in the biblical world and in our own world. She proposes that we wrestle with the Bible’s words, including passages that depict God as a violent aggressor, and that we should read scriptural accounts in solidarity with victims, past and present.

By Susanne Scholz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Sacred Witness, Susanne Scholz discusses the wide range of rape texts in biblical literaturesome that long have troubled readers, others that should have but didn't, such as texts of marital rape, for example, or metaphorical speech about God as rapist. Assuming the androcentric nature of these writings, Scholz asks how we may read these texts in order to find some redemptive meaning for women, children, and men who have been injured by sexual violence and by cultures of rape. Sacred Witness provides illuminating reflection on some of the most troubling texts in the Hebrew Bible.


Book cover of The Social Universe of the English Bible: Scripture, Society, and Culture in Early Modern England

Peter Marshall Author Of Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation

From my list on the English Reformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

Peter Marshall is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, co-editor of the English Historical Review, and the author of nine books and over sixty articles on the religious and cultural history of early modern Europe. His authoritative account of the Reformation in England, Heretics and Believers, was awarded the Wolfson History Prize in 2018. Peter is a native of the Orkney Islands, and currently writing a book on the islanders’ experiences in the Reformation era.

Peter's book list on the English Reformation

Peter Marshall Why did Peter love this book?

At the heart of the Reformation in England was an insistence that people be allowed access to Scripture in their own language, but translation was invariably a selective and creative process. Tadmor brilliantly shows how the translators of the Hebrew Bible (‘Old Testament’) remade the ancient world in the image of contemporary Tudor society, editing out many references to slavery and polygamous marriage, and merging together distinct forms of political governance through consistent reference to the authority of a ‘prince’. The findings are eye-opening, and the book should be required reading for modern biblical fundamentalists.

By Naomi Tadmor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Social Universe of the English Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How can we explain the immense popularity of the English Bible? In this book, Naomi Tadmor argues that the vernacular Bible became so influential in early modern English society and culture not only because it was deeply revered, widely propagated, and resonant, but also because it was - at least in some ways - Anglicised. She focuses in particular on the rendering into English of biblical terms of social description and demonstrates the emergence of a social universe through the processes of translation from ancient and medieval texts to successive and interrelated English versions. She investigates the dissemination of these…


Book cover of God: A Biography

Mohamed Rabie Author Of The Global Debt Crisis and Its Socioeconomic Implications: Creating Conditions for a Sustainable, Peaceful, and Just World

From my list on serving humanity and revealing misleading secrets.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired professor, was raised in a refugee camp, one of a family of 9 living in one tent. studied in Palestine, Egypt, Germany, and America, have Ph.D. in economics; scholarships financed my education journey. I lived a life no human has lived or can live, because some of the times I lived had come and gone and cannot come back again. I taught at 11 universities on 4 continents, published 60 books in Arabic and English: books on economics, politics, culture, history, conflict resolution, philosophy, racism, novels, and poetry. True intellectuals cannot stay in one area because issues that shape mankind's history and man’s destiny are interconnected. 

Mohamed's book list on serving humanity and revealing misleading secrets

Mohamed Rabie Why did Mohamed love this book?

Believers in God see him as the creator of man and women in his own image. Firm believers tried throughout history to model themselves as they imagined God. But God, the author says, evolves through his relationship with man, and man becomes rival to God. So believers and non-believers discover that God, the protector of the poor and weak, becomes a warrior who nearly destroys all humans and animals he created by causing the flood. So rational people realize that God is a tribal chief who gets angry, kills, destroys, loves some and forgets many more. This book is a must-read for all believers and non-believers. I found this book unusual in telling amazing stories about God and his actions and reactions. 

By Jack Miles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

What sort of "person" is God? What is his "life story"? Is it possible to approach him not as an object of religious reverence, but as the protagonist of the world's greatest book—as a character who possesses all the depths, contradictions, and abiguities of a Hamlet? This is the task that Jack Miles—a former Jesuit trained in religious studies and Near Eastern languages—accomplishes with such brilliance and originality in God: A Biography.

Using the Hebrew Bible as his text, Miles shows us a God who evolves through his relationship with man, the image who in…


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