100 books like The Making of Late Antiquity

By Peter Brown,

Here are 100 books that The Making of Late Antiquity fans have personally recommended if you like The Making of Late Antiquity. 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 Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

In Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, James Carroll, a former Catholic priest turned journalist and novelist, delivers a powerful indictment of the politicized religion that from the time of Constantine the Great persecuted heretics, non-Romans, and, most of all, Jews. Carroll’s historical account is colorful and accurate, but what this book mostly does is exorcise a demon that plagued the author personally for years: his shared responsibility as a Catholic believer and official for an anti-Semitic tradition that helped generate the Holocaust. This is a stirring job of writing that looks forward to Carroll’s later work as a novelist, including his lovely take on the story of  Abelard and Heloise, The Cloister (Anchor, 2019).     

By James Christopher Carroll,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Constantine's Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bold and moving book tracing the two-thousand-year course of the Church's battle against Judaism by National Book Award–winning author James Carroll.

More than a chronicle of religion, this dark history is the central tragedy of Western civilization. The Church’s failure to protest the Holocaust—the infamous “silence” of Pius XII—is only part of the story: the death camps, Carroll shows, are the culmination of a long, entrenched tradition of anti-Judaism. From Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus on the cross, to Constantine’s transformation of the cross into a sword, to the rise of blood libels, scapegoating, and modern anti-Semitism,…


Book cover of Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

In this lively and knowledgeable history of Christian controversies of the fifth century CE, Philip Jenkins produces a valuable and colorful sequel to the story told in When Jesus Became God. This book reveals what happened after the Council of Constantinople adopted a Trinitarian view of Jesus and Roman power shifted to the Byzantine East. The council “settled” the Arian controversy for the time being but generated an even more ferocious series of battles over Jesus’ divine/human nature and the relationship of Christianity to Greek thought. As the book’s subtitle suggests, Jenkins has a fine time showing how an admixture of imperial politics, Church politics, and theological ideas created “orthodox” Christian thought and practice. 

By John Philip Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tells the fascinating, violent story of the Church's fifth century battles over 'right belief' that had a far greater impact on the future of Christianity and the world than the much-touted Council of Nicea convened by Constantine a century before.


Book cover of A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans, and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

The year 381 marked the point at which the new Roman emperor, Theodosius, convened the Church council that outlawed Arianism and made Jesus’ role as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity, an essential part of Christian orthodoxy. For the historian Charles Freeman, this noxious combination of secular and ecclesiastical power stands as the origin of the development he described earlier in The Closing of the Western Mind (Anchor, 2005). Freeman’s analysis of the “Greek-ification” of Christian thinking is very sharp, and he tells the story of Theodosius well, even if he sometimes seems to be reading elements of modern dictatorial leadership back into that emperor’s character. A stimulating, provocative read. 

By Charles Freeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A.D. 381 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In A.D. 381, Theodosius, emperor of the eastern Roman empire, issued a decree in which all his subjects were required to subscribe to a belief in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This edict defined Christian orthodoxy and brought to an end a lively and wide-ranging debate about the nature of God; all other interpretations were now declared heretical. It was the first time in a thousand years of Greco-Roman civilization free thought was unambiguously suppressed. Why has Theodosius's revolution been airbrushed from the historical record? In this groundbreaking book, acclaimed historian Charles Freeman argues that Theodosius's…


Book cover of The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

Sir Anthony Buzzard, the leader of a self-described “Biblical Unitarian” church, and co-author Charles F. Hunting have written a learned, strongly argued polemic against the Trinitarian doctrine that is still accepted by most believing Christians.  As a non-Christian, I do not take sides in the continuing debate over the relationship of the Son to the Father, but the debate does continue, and Sir Anthony’s book is a must for those interested in it.  It can be read usefully in conjunction with his later study, Jesus Was Not A Trinitarian (Restoration Fellowship, 2007).       

By Anthony Buzzard, Charles F. Hunting,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This important work is a detailed biblical investigation of the relationship of Jesus to the one God of Israel. The authors challenge the notion that biblical monotheism is legitimately represented by a Trinitarian view of God and demonstrate that within the bounds of the canon of Scripture Jesus is confessed as Messiah, Son of God, but not God Himself. Later Christological developments beginning in the second century misrepresented the biblical doctrine of God and Christ by altering the terms of the biblical presentation of the Father and Son. This fateful development laid the foundation of a revised, unscriptural creed that…


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

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

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.

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…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World

Cory Hartman Author Of Future Church: Seven Laws of Real Church Growth

From my list on making disciples today the way Jesus did.

Why am I passionate about this?

Cory Hartman (DMin, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) collaboratively crafts practical tools, interactive processes, and breakthrough content for the Future Church Company, three interconnected organizations that exist to help the church embody the movement Jesus founded. I previously served as a pastor for thirteen years and founded Fulcrum Content, a gospel communication training organization.

Cory's book list on making disciples today the way Jesus did

Cory Hartman Why did Cory love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings 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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

According to the gospels, Jesus had 4 brothers – James, Jose, Simon, Judas – and at least two sisters (who are not named). What happened to these individuals after Jesus’ crucifixion? Butz explores the Jewish movement that stemmed from Jesus’ brother, James. James led Jesus’ followers from the time of Jesus’ death up until his own death in 62 CE. A leader who knew Jesus his whole life, James regarded Jesus as a Jewish teacher. He differed radically from Paul, who never met the Jesus of history. This book explores the original movement that originated from Jesus.

By Jeffrey J. Butz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reveals the true role of James, the brother of Jesus, in early Christianity

• Uses evidence from the canonical Gospels, apocryphal texts, and the writings of the Church Fathers to reveal the teachings of Jesus as transmitted to his chosen successor: James

• Demonstrates how the core message in the teachings of Jesus is an expansion not a repudiation of the Jewish religion

• Shows how James can serve as a bridge between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam

James has been a subject of controversy since the founding of the Church. Evidence that Jesus had siblings contradicts Church dogma on the…


Book cover of Pagans and Christians

Rebecca I. Denova Author Of Greek and Roman Religions

From my list on the religious lives of Greeks and Romans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I could never “get” the secrets of math or science. If I could, I would have been an archaeologist. But I was always interested in “origins;” where do our modern ideas come from? My passion for reading led me to begin to uncover “origins” (or, the element of “looking for clues” in a “murder mystery”). Uncovering “ancient origins” entails thoroughly exploring ancient society. I continue to daily keep up with the research and new interpretations in the study of these fascinating worlds.

Rebecca's book list on the religious lives of Greeks and Romans

Rebecca I. Denova Why did Rebecca love this book?

I first encountered Lane Fox when I was working on my dissertation in graduate school. Working on “Gentiles” in the New Testament, I had to thoroughly understand the historical background. This book became my “pagan Bible,” in effect. The first half fully details ancient concepts and rituals, and the second emphasizes which elements were absorbed by the rise of Christianity and which were rejected and why.

By Robin Lane Fox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Explores the character of early Christianity, with details on religious life, secular daily life, and the condition of paganism at the time of its defeat


Book cover of A Voice in the Wind

Nancy Kimball Author Of Unseen Love

From my list on that put the Roman in romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I watched the Ridley Scott film Gladiator for the first time, I knew then my heart belonged in Ancient Rome. Countless books, films, research papers, museums, and shenanigans later, that is still true. I was a master of make-believe by age ten, and when the time was right, both passions fused into my debut novel, also set in Ancient Rome. I don’t want to just read or write a good book. I want to experience Ancient Rome vicariously through powerful characters that linger in my memory long after the last page. If that’s you too, give these a try. 

Nancy's book list on that put the Roman in romance

Nancy Kimball Why did Nancy love this book?

This is the gold standard of Ancient World Christian Fiction for a reason. The author is an RWA Hall of Fame recipient and ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award winner. This first book in the Mark of the Lion series is so much more than a book about early Christianity and why Rome hated it. Words to describe Hadassah and Marcus’s story are… epic, profound, life-changing, powerful, captivating, and I could go on and on. It still freaks me out and totally awes me when reviews for my novels mention her in the same sentence. I want to be flattered and offended on her behalf at the same time, which is completely crazy. If you’re only going to invest in one book from my list, it should be this one. 

By Francine Rivers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Voice in the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book 1 in the 3-book historical Christian fiction series by the New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love and The Masterpiece.

The first book in the beloved Mark of the Lion series, A Voice in the Wind brings readers back to the first century and introduces them to a character they will never forget―Hadassah.

While wealthy Roman citizens indulge their every whim, Jews and barbarians are bought and sold as slaves and gladiators in the bloodthirsty arena. Amid the depravity around her, a young Jewish slave girl becomes a light in the darkness. Even as she’s torn by her…


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