100 books like The Christian Imagination

By Willie James Jennings,

Here are 100 books that The Christian Imagination fans have personally recommended if you like The Christian Imagination. 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 Blacks of Premodern China

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?

Everyone knows about how the People’s Republic of China treats Tibetans and Uighurs today, but how many know about premodern China’s response to people it considered foreign, barbarian, or Black?  Don Wyatt’s book shows how people in Southeast Asia—Sumatra, Java, the Malay archipelago—were considered by China as Black, alongside actual Africans.  An excellent companion book to read together with this is Shao-yun Yang’s The Way of the Barbarians: Redrawing Ethnic Boundaries in Tang and Song China.  Many books on race before the modern era focus on the West, but how about race elsewhere? How about China, a country that’s fast becoming a world power? 

By Don J. Wyatt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Premodern Chinese described a great variety of the peoples they encountered as "black." The earliest and most frequent of these encounters were with their Southeast Asian neighbors, specifically the Malayans. But by the midimperial times of the seventh through seventeenth centuries C.E., exposure to peoples from Africa, chiefly slaves arriving from the area of modern Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania, gradually displaced the original Asian "blacks" in Chinese consciousness. In The Blacks of Premodern China, Don J. Wyatt presents the previously unexamined story of the earliest Chinese encounters with this succession of peoples they have historically regarded as black.
A series…


Book cover of The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art

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?

The Image of the Black in Western Art is a multi-volume series that extends from antiquity to the modern era, and it’s famous for its extraordinary images.  This series now has an excellent additional volume—on how Black peoples were portrayed in African, Middle Eastern, and Asian art.  The images from these non-Western regions of the world are incomparable, and the accompanying essays take us all the way from the beginnings to the present day. 

By David Bindman, Suzanne Preston Blier, Henry Louis Gates

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art asks how the black figure was depicted by artists from the non-Western world. Beginning with ancient Egypt-positioned properly as part of African history-this volume focuses on the figure of the black as rendered by artists from Africa, East Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. The aesthetic traditions illustrated here are as diverse as the political and social histories of these regions. From Igbo Mbari sculptures to modern photography from Mali, from Indian miniatures to Japanese prints, African and Asian artists portrayed the black body in ways distinct from the European tradition,…


Book cover of Race: Antiquity and Its Legacy

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?

If you’re curious about what the ancient Greeks and Romans thought about their neighbors—Persians, Egyptians, etc.— you’ll want to read this book from cover to cover.  It’s smart, learned, and doesn’t shy away from hard truths.  After you read it, you’ll also want to read Benjamin Isaac’s The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity, David M. Goldenberg’s The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and The Origins of Racism in the West, edited by Miriam Eliav-Feldon, Benjamin Isaac, and Joseph Ziegler.

By Denise Eileen McCoskey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How do different cultures think about race? In the modern era, racial distinctiveness has been assessed primarily in terms of a person's physical appearance. But it was not always so. As Denise McCoskey shows, the ancient Greeks and Romans did not use skin colour as the basis for categorising ethnic disparity. The colour of one's skin lies at the foundation of racial variability today because it was used during the heyday of European exploration and colonialism to construct a hierarchy of civilizations and then justify slavery and other forms of economic exploitation. Assumptions about race thus have to take into…


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…


Book cover of Love, Pray, Listen: Parenting Your Wayward Adult Kids with Joy

Dorothy Littell Greco Author Of Marriage in the Middle: Embracing Midlife Surprises, Challenges, and Joys

From my list on helping you to thrive in midlife.

Who am I?

I've been writing and providing pastor care for more than thirty years now. Since turning sixty, I have noticed that aging well is not a given. Many people seem to grow increasingly bitter, resentful, and hard. If we want to become more empathetic, grateful, and loving, we have to keep growing and do our spiritual and relational work. We also need trustworthy guides to help us find our way. I hope to be a wise, compassionate guide for my readers.

Dorothy's book list on helping you to thrive in midlife

Dorothy Littell Greco Why did Dorothy love this book?

If you are a parent and your children are over the age of eighteen, you know that your relationship with them shifts radically as they become adults. If you’ve raised your children to be independent thinkers, guess what? They will think and act independently, sometimes making choices that cause pain and confusion. Mary does a terrific job of helping parents remain grounded in their faith as they figure out how to love and support their sons and daughters in this new season. Her love for and knowledge of Scripture is very evident throughout. (Note: I would not have included the word “Wayward” in the title. Mary does not focus on adult kids who have made poor choices, but rather ones whose lives look different than what we might have imagined.)

By Mary DeMuth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Love, Pray, Listen offers empathy and grounded biblical wisdom to help parents thrive, no matter what path their adult kids take."--PASTOR STEVE STROOPE

Wisdom and Hope for Parents of Grown-Ups

As a parent, your role changes drastically after your kids grow up. You fear heartache and strained relationships when your children choose difficult--even seemingly wrong--paths.

Love, Pray, Listen is the gracious, practical resource you need for navigating the rocky terrain of parenting grown-ups. In this book, mom and author Mary DeMuth answers questions like:

* What do I do when my kids make choices that don't align with my values?…


Book cover of Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue

Ned Bustard Author Of It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God

From my list on art and Christianity.

Who am I?

In my late high school years and during college I was confronted with a question that has dogged many artists over the years who are in the church: should a Christian be in the arts or not? As it turns out, the first person to be described as filled by the Spirit in the Bible was an artist. I had to wait until my college years to find that out by reading Francis Schaeffer’s book Art and the Bible. This and Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water gave me a theology that valued art. Now I'm a full-time artist and curate a small art gallery, but I've never stopped looking for good books on Art and Faith.

Ned's book list on art and Christianity

Ned Bustard Why did Ned love this book?

Possibly the most helpful book for those looking to engage both Art and the Church. In Visual Faith the reader will find a wonderful overview of art history from a Christian perspective, beginning with art in the Early Church and coming all the way up to Warhol, Pollock, and art today. There is also an entire chapter devoted to making and looking at art. If there was one book I’d give to people in my church who were interested in engaging with art, this would be it.

By William A. Dyrness,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How can art enhance and enrich the Christian faith? What is the basis for a relationship between the church and visual imagery? Can the art world and the Protestant church be reconciled? Is art idolatry and vanity, or can it be used to strengthen the church? Grounded in historical and biblical research, William Dyrness offers students and scholars an intriguing, substantive look into the relationship between the church and the world of art.

Faith and art were not always discordant. According to Dyrness, Israel understood imagery and beauty as reflections of God's perfect order; likewise, early Christians used art to…


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 The Sound of Life's Unspeakable Beauty

Ethan D. Bryan Author Of A Year of Playing Catch: What a Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me about Life

From my list on memoirs that inspire you to live a great story.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, a storyteller, and a dreamer of absurdly ridiculous dreams. I’m an empath who feels big feelings and trusts my intuition as I make my way in this world. I know full well the power and importance of encouraging words, of being a friend, of looking for hope when nothing seems to be going your way. These are the books I turn to when my soul, the truest part of what makes me “me,” needs a reminder of why I write, why I tell stories, and what it means to be human. These are the books that dance across my synapses whenever I sit down to write and tell my own stories.

Ethan's book list on memoirs that inspire you to live a great story

Ethan D. Bryan Why did Ethan love this book?

Martin Schleske is a German luthier and theologian. My daughter is a violinist. I picked up this book at the recommendation of Byron of Hearts & Minds Books, hoping to learn more about the violin-making process, and it has remained one of my favorite books ever since. Schleske slowly and carefully walks the reader through his process, from choosing the right trees, to designing the structure, to helping “closed” violins discover their sound. Along the way, he shares how his work crafting violins helps him grow in his faith.

I can only read a couple pages of this book at a time, as Schleske’s profound wisdom often leaves me with thoughts I need time to process and sort through. This is a book about how God, as the Artist, will continue to shape me, work with me, and help me be the best instrument I can be to make music…

By Martin Schleske,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sound of Life's Unspeakable Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christianity Today Book Award in Culture and the Arts (2021)

“In the final analysis, music is prayer cast into sound.” 

One of the greatest luthiers of our time reveals the secrets of his profession—and how each phase of handcrafting a violin can point us toward our calling, our true selves, and the overwhelming power and gentleness of God’s love. Schleske explains that our world is flooded with metaphors, parables, and messages from God. But are we truly listening? Do we really see? Drawing upon Scripture, his life experiences, and his insights as a master violinmaker, Schleske challenges readers to understand…


Book cover of Faithful: A Theology of Sex

Dorothy Littell Greco Author Of Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You

From my list on create and sustain a healthy marriage and sex life.

Who am I?

For most of my 31 years of marriage, my husband and I have walked alongside couples who are preparing for marriage, in the throes of marriage, or trying to salvage their marriage. We get why it’s challenging and absolutely believe that there is hope and healing in the context of marriage for everyone. I’ve written two books on the topic and am passionate about helping couples find the resources they need to grow and strengthen their marriage covenants. Marriage books tend to be a bit shallow and offer quick fixes. We need honest, practical, wise resources if we want to grow. 

Dorothy's book list on create and sustain a healthy marriage and sex life

Dorothy Littell Greco Why did Dorothy love this book?

Faithful: A Theology of Sex is an incredibly important read in a culture that tends to disregard any connection between faith and sexuality. Felker-Jones goes deep and wide. I appreciated her insights on the importance of how we steward our bodies and our sexuality and how this affects both our faith and our marriage covenant. The author makes a compelling case for how “a theology of sexuality demonstrates sex is not about legalistic morals with no basis in reality but rather about the God who is faithful to us.” 

By Beth Felker Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Many believers accept traditional Christian sexual morality but have very little idea why it matters for the Christian life. In Faithful, author Beth Felker Jones sketches a theology of sexuality that demonstrates sex is not about legalistic morals with no basis in reality but rather about the God who is faithful to us.

In Hosea 2:19-20 God says to Israel, "I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the…


Book cover of Mother God

Victoria Robb Powers Author Of My Love, God Is Everywhere

From my list on Christian reads for kids that are inclusive and safe.

Who am I?

I am an ordained minister with over 10 years of experience serving as a pastor in both the hospital and church settings. I’m also a mom of three children, ages 2, 5, and 7. I routinely get asked for resources to help raise children in the Christian faith. As both a pastor and a mother, I am a strong advocate for teaching children a theology they won’t have to heal from. All the books I recommend are progressive, inclusive, and diverse. I’ve done extensive research when it comes to faith-based literature, and I’m passionate about finding the best books to recommend to families.

Victoria's book list on Christian reads for kids that are inclusive and safe

Victoria Robb Powers Why did Victoria love this book?

Every page of this book should be framed.

The illustrations are incredible, and the language invites readers of every age to imagine how expansive God is. I love the use of the female imagery for God. This has been lost for too long. If you’re looking to instill a theology that’s broad, diverse, and full of wonder, start here.

By Teresa Kim Pecinovsky, Khoa Le (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mother God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Teach your kids that God's love transcends single-gender expression--God is creative, fierce, protective, and her love as a Mother knows no bounds.

With lyrical, rhyming text and exquisite illustrations, Mother God introduces readers to a dozen images of God inspired by feminine descriptions from Scripture. Children and adults alike will be in awe of the God who made them as they come to know her as a creative seamstress, generous baker, fierce mother bear, protective mother hen, strong woman in labor, nurturing nursing mother, wise grandmother, and comforting singer of lullabies.

This gorgeous picture book welcomes children into a fuller,…


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