10 books like Rabbi Jesus

By Bruce Chilton,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Rabbi Jesus. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Daily Life in Roman Palestine

By Catherine Hezser (editor),

Book cover of The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Daily Life in Roman Palestine

When I pulled this book off my library shelves, I discovered it was still bookmarked with about 40 Post-it flags. This was one of my go-to books for research about life and times in first-century Palestine. The book is divided into sections with labels such as "Family Life," "Religion and Magic," and "Labour and Trade." Each section contains detailed discussions on subtopics related to the main section. For example, under "Family Life," you will find information on clothing, marriage, and divorce, jewelry, food, housing, etc. There are wonderful illustrations and drawings. At the end of each chapter, there is a list of suggested reading and a full bibliography. I spent hours pouring through the resources here when researching my own novel.

The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Daily Life in Roman Palestine

By Catherine Hezser (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Daily Life in Roman Palestine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by an international and interdisciplinary team of distinguished scholars, The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Daily Life in Roman Palestine is an indispensable reference compendium on the day-to-day lives of Jews in the land of Israel in Roman times. Ranging from subjects such as clothing and domestic architecture to food and meals, labour and trade, and leisure time activities, the volume covers all the major themes in an encompassing yet easily
accessible way. Individual chapters introduce the reader to the current state of research on particular aspects of ancient Jewish everyday life-research which has been greatly enriched by critical methodological…


Atlas of the Bible

By John Rogerson,

Book cover of Atlas of the Bible

Part of my job when writing historical fiction is to know the "lay of the land." That means understanding regional maps, the geography, the climate, and the flora and fauna of the era and location of my story. I turned to this book so often that some of the pages are falling out. Beautifully illustrated with color photos, maps, and drawings, this book describes the history and main features of twelve main geographical regions in the Holy Land and connects them to major events in the Old and New Testaments. It's an accessible resource that functions more as a cultural atlas than simply as a map atlas.

Atlas of the Bible

By John Rogerson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first atlas of the Bible to treat its subject geographically rather than historically, this unique work features the main biblical sites, illustrated with photographs and colour maps. The book opens with a description of the Bible, explains how it came to be composed and how it has been transmitted to us through medieval manuscript copies and modern translations. The second section of the text provides an outline of the historical background of the Bible, from the time of Abraham to the close of the New Testament period. The third and principal section discusses the main geographical regions of the…


Nelson's Bible Encyclopedia for the Family

By Arthur Cundall, Rosemary Mellor, Arthur Rowe, Frederick Fyvie Bruce

Book cover of Nelson's Bible Encyclopedia for the Family: A Comprehensive Guide to the World of the Bible

As its title implies, this book is accessible to the entire family and would be a great resource for Sunday school teachers who want to provide their students with a larger understanding of the life and times of peoples in ancient Palestine and Rome. The book is broken down into easy-to-find categories such as "The Home," "Warfare," and "Travel and Communication," to name a few. There are stunning photographs on every page with detailed and clear explanations. The back of the book has timelines of the Bible and a map of Palestine in New Testament times with highlights of key events in the New Testament. There is also an alphabetical index that makes it easy to find information on specific topics.

Nelson's Bible Encyclopedia for the Family

By Arthur Cundall, Rosemary Mellor, Arthur Rowe, Frederick Fyvie Bruce

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nelson's Bible Encyclopedia for the Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discusses historical and cultural topics relevant to an understanding of the Bible, under such topics as archaeology, geography, government, business, education, and health.


Today's Handbook of Bible Times and Customs

By William L. Coleman,

Book cover of Today's Handbook of Bible Times and Customs

This was another book that I marked with dozens of Post-it flags for my research for my novel. The subtitle pretty much describes what it offers: A cultural, social, and political background on the land and people of the Bible, based on all the recent archaeological discoveries. This book is broken down into categories: "Family Life," "Food and Drink," "The Practice of Medicine," "Childbirth," etc. One of my favorite sections was the food and drink section. Not only does this book have photographs of the food and drink, but it also includes some simple recipes on how to prepare and serve them. I now know the proper way to serve locusts!

Today's Handbook of Bible Times and Customs

By William L. Coleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Today's Handbook of Bible Times and Customs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Jesus the Magician

By Morton Smith,

Book cover of Jesus the Magician

Finally, I offer Morton Smith’s earlier study of the real-life Jesus. Everything Smith wrote was worth the time to read.  His prose bristles with occasional invective, but always at the expense of figures from long ago. He takes no prisoners, shall we say, in his scholarship, and Jesus the Magician is exhibit A.

Jesus the Magician

By Morton Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A twentieth-century classic, uncannily smart, incredibly learned."--from the foreword by Bart Ehrman

This book challenges traditional Christian teaching about Jesus. While his followers may have seen him as a man from heaven, preaching the good news and working miracles, Smith asserts that the truth about Jesus is more interesting and rather unsettling.

The real Jesus, only barely glimpsed because of a campaign of disinformation, obfuscation, and censorship by religious authorities, was not Jesus the Son of God. In actuality he was Jesus the Magician. Smith marshals all the available evidence including, but not limited to, the Gospels. He succeeds in…


What Jesus Started

By Steve Addison,

Book cover of What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World

Addison’s book lengthens and broadens Coleman’s Master Plan. While Coleman focuses on Jesus’ selection, training, and sending of his twelve closest disciples, Addison also examines what Jesus did before he named the Twelve, including rich historical background of his ministry context in first-century Palestine. In this way, Addison sheds light on how to engage unreached people who are still far from committing themselves to learn from Jesus.

Addison discerns a recurring six-step pattern in Jesus’ activity, in the early Palestinian church, in Paul’s Mediterranean travels, and in global disciple-making movements today. Importantly, he lays out these steps in a way that contemporary Western Christians unused to Jesus’ method can begin practicing them together.

What Jesus Started

By Steve Addison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year Sometimes we get so caught up in the power of Jesus shouting from the cross, "It is finished!" that we forget that Jesus started something. What Jesus started was a movement that began small, with intimate conversations designed to build disciples into apostles who would go out in the world and seed it with God's kingdom vision. That movement grew rapidly and spread wide as people recognized the truth in it and gave their lives to the power of it. That movement is still happening today, and we are called to play our part…


Jesus Through the Centuries

By Jaroslav Pelikan,

Book cover of Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture

If Donner shows that Muslims don’t necessarily know who Muhammad was or agree about him, Pelikan shows that the same is true for Christians and Jesus. He looks at various ways in which Christians over twenty centuries have conceived of Jesus: a sage Jewish rabbi? An apocalyptic preacher, warning of the imminent end of the world? King of the universe, destined to preside over the final judgment, model for worldly judges and kings? The paradigmatic monk and mystic? An egalitarian preacher of social justice? He has been all of these things to different Christians over the ages, and Pelikan shows how different people in very different circumstances have reinterpreted Jesus the better to fit their own ideas of what Christianity should be.

Jesus Through the Centuries

By Jaroslav Pelikan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A rich and expansive description of Jesus' impact on the general history of culture. . . . Believers and skeptics alike will find it a sweeping visual and conceptual panorama."-John Koenig, front page, New York Times Book Review

Called "a book of uncommon brilliance" by Commonweal, Jesus Through the Centuries is an original and compelling study of the impact of Jesus on cultural, political, social, and economic history. Noted historian and theologian Jaroslav Pelikan reveals how the image of Jesus created by each successive epoch-from rabbi in the first century to liberator in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries-is a key…


The Upside-Down Kingdom

By Donald B. Kraybill,

Book cover of The Upside-Down Kingdom

If you’ve browsed my list this far, maybe you’re curious enough to peek into Mennonite theology, which truly is upside-down from the world we live in. Even though I’d been Mennonite all my life, this book, which I read decades ago, explained what radical Christian discipleship meant in a way I’d never fully understood. All those things that make the theology challenging—choosing pacifism, taking care of the least in society, living humbly instead of seeking power, turning the other cheek, forgiving when it’s easier to seek revenge—are also what make it transformative. If only living it were that easy.

The Upside-Down Kingdom

By Donald B. Kraybill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Upside-Down Kingdom calls readers to imagine and embody the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. Since its publication in 1978, The Upside-Down Kingdom won the National Religious Book Award and has become the most trusted resource on radical Christian discipleship. In this completely updated anniversary edition, author Donald B. Kraybill asks: What does it mean to follow the Christ who traded victory and power for hanging out with the poor and forgiving his enemies? How did a man in first-century Palestine threaten the established order, and what does that mean for us today? Jesus turned…


The Jesus Dynasty

By James D. Tabor,

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

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.

The Jesus Dynasty

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…


The Book of Longings

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Book cover of The Book of Longings

Brilliant, feisty, and intrepid Ana, raised in privilege and wealth in ancient Israel, is the heroine of this painstakingly researched historical fiction novel. Her mother discourages Ana’s intellectual curiousity, forbidding Ana’s writings about the secrets of repressed, abused women of her day. Her adopted brother Judas is part of the resistance against the Roman occupation, and her father plans on marrying Ana to a rich older man. Amidst this complexity, Ana defies him and marries far beneath her station. Her groom? Jesus of Nazareth. After the crucifixion, Ana goes to her Aunt Yaltha in Alexandria where she helps Yaltha locate her long-lost daughter. The Book of Longings chronicles Ana’s challenge to overcome the family secrets and cultural repression meant to silence and subdue her. Compelling, intriguing, and powerful! A must-read!

The Book of Longings

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"An extraordinary novel . . . a triumph of insight and storytelling." -Associated Press

"A true masterpiece." -Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed

An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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