10 books like The Christian Imagination

By Willie James Jennings,

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

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The Blacks of Premodern China

By Don J. Wyatt,

Book cover of The Blacks of Premodern China

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? 

The Blacks of Premodern China

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…


The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art

By David Bindman, Suzanne Preston Blier, Henry Louis Gates

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

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. 

The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art

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,…


Race

By Denise Eileen McCoskey,

Book cover of Race: Antiquity and Its Legacy

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.

Race

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…


Figuring Racism in Medieval Christianity

By M. Lindsay Kaplan,

Book cover of Figuring Racism in Medieval Christianity

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.

Figuring Racism in Medieval Christianity

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…


Love, Pray, Listen

By Mary DeMuth,

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

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.)

Love, Pray, Listen

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?…


The Sound of Life's Unspeakable Beauty

By Martin Schleske,

Book cover of The Sound of Life's Unspeakable Beauty

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…

The Sound of Life's Unspeakable Beauty

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…


The Mythmaker

By Hyam Maccoby,

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

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.

The Mythmaker

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


Faithful

By Beth Felker Jones,

Book cover of Faithful: A Theology of Sex

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.” 

Faithful

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…


Convictions

By Marcus J. Borg,

Book cover of Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most

Borg is another theologian who is liberal and questions all aspects of religion in a respectful way. Borg usually writes in a more classic theological style, but this book was personal and hence, more relatable for the average reader. This book helped me feel comfortable with my own spirituality, even if I couldn’t conform to any conventional religion. 

Convictions

By Marcus J. Borg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the occasion of his seventieth birthday, the renowned scholar Marcus J. Borg shares how he formed his bedrock religious beliefs, contending that Christians in America are at their best when they focus on hope and transformation and so shows how we can return to what really matters most. The result is a manifesto for all progressive Christians who seek the best path for following Jesus today.

With each chapter embodying a distinct conviction, Borg writes provocatively and compellingly on the beliefs that can deeply ground us and guide us, such as: God is real and a mystery; salvation is…


The God Painter

By Jessica Pegis,

Book cover of The God Painter

I’ve never read a book quite like this, and yet it felt hauntingly familiar. The population of Earth is rescued en masse from a destructive solar event and has to start again from scratch on an unknown planet. But of course humanity has taken the problems of its own nature with it, and the encounter with its new hosts only raises further questions – around sex, gender, love, and nature. It’s brave and beautiful, hopeful and sad and dynamic all at once, and it kept me reading and guessing all the way to the end. 

The God Painter

By Jessica Pegis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the year 2035 humanity is rescued from a lethal solar flare by seven mysterious beings and transported across the universe to the uninhabited planet of Ansar. Earth's major cities are recreated, and a stunned but thankful humanity mostly carries on with life and society. But is everything as it appears? Just who are the semi-omniscient beings who rescued them? What do they really want? And to what secret place do they retreat every night? With that appearance of the seven, all the old divisions concerning gender, privilege, and power re-emerge in unexpected and increasingly dangerous ways. Conspiracy theories abound.…


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