95 books like The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel

By Mitchell B. Merback,

Here are 95 books that The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel fans have personally recommended if you like The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel. 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 Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century

Una McIlvenna Author Of Singing the News of Death: Execution Ballads in Europe 1500-1900

From my list on the history of capital punishment.

Who am I?

When I started researching the history of early modern public execution, I read a few eyewitness accounts in which people behaved so strangely that I realised I understood nothing about the realities of this once-common historical practice. By reading the books on this list, I quickly discovered that the ceremony of capital punishment was a performance in which the entire community participated, filled with rituals and behaviours that had enormous emotional and spiritual significance for everyone involved, not just the ‘poor sinner’ on the scaffold. I also discovered that music and singing were crucial parts of the performance, with ballads being sung about the event for years afterwards. 

Una's book list on the history of capital punishment

Una McIlvenna Why did Una love this book?

What must it have been like to be an executioner? In this detailed and moving study, Harrington explores the extraordinary diary of Meister Franz Schmidt, the 16th-century executioner of Nuremberg, who kept notes on every one of the 394 people he executed, as well as the countless others he tortured, whipped, and disfigured according to the law's demands. This book is therefore essential for understanding exactly how this mysterious craft was carried out, but the surprising twist in the tale is how Schmidt spent his entire life seeking to have his family's honour restored in a period when executioners were believed to be able to ritually 'pollute' another human simply by touch. Harrington's real achievement here is explaining how dishonour was the central force within public punishment—something we too easily forget today.

By Joel F. Harrington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a dusty German bookshop, the noted historian Joel F. Harrington stumbled upon a remarkable document: the journal of a sixteenth-century executioner. The journal gave an account of the 394 people Meister Frantz Schmidt executed, and the hundreds more he tortured, flogged, or disfigured for more than forty-five years in the city of Nuremberg. But the portrait of Schmidt that gradually emerged was not that of a monster. Could a man who practiced such cruelty also be insightful, compassionate - even progressive?

In The Faithful Executioner, Harrington teases out the hidden meanings and drama of Schmidt's journal. Deemed an official…


Book cover of The Art of Executing Well: Rituals of Execution in Renaissance Italy

Una McIlvenna Author Of Singing the News of Death: Execution Ballads in Europe 1500-1900

From my list on the history of capital punishment.

Who am I?

When I started researching the history of early modern public execution, I read a few eyewitness accounts in which people behaved so strangely that I realised I understood nothing about the realities of this once-common historical practice. By reading the books on this list, I quickly discovered that the ceremony of capital punishment was a performance in which the entire community participated, filled with rituals and behaviours that had enormous emotional and spiritual significance for everyone involved, not just the ‘poor sinner’ on the scaffold. I also discovered that music and singing were crucial parts of the performance, with ballads being sung about the event for years afterwards. 

Una's book list on the history of capital punishment

Una McIlvenna Why did Una love this book?

It’s not often I’m moved to tears by an academic book, but this book did it for me by putting me in the shoes of a Florentine patrician trying to comfort his friend the night before his execution. The main historical source of the book is an extraordinary ‘how-to’ manual: the one used by the ‘comforting confraternities’ of 16th-century Bologna, men who volunteered to spiritually prepare condemned criminals for their final moments on earth and, in so doing, hopefully increase their chances of salvation. The book explains the various methods and tools that the comforter could use, including prayers, songs, and pictures, and reveals the complex rituals of execution that began long before the prisoner’s arrival at the scaffold. A moving account of the realities of historical capital punishment.

By Nicholas Terpstra (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Renaissance Italy a good execution was both public and peaceful―at least in the eyes of authorities. In a feature unique to Italy, the people who prepared a condemned man or woman spiritually and psychologically for execution were not priests or friars, but laymen. This volume includes some of the songs, stories, poems, and images that they used, together with first-person accounts and ballads describing particular executions. Leading scholars expand on these accounts explaining aspects of the theater, psychology, and politics of execution.

The main text is a manual, translated in English for the first time, on how to comfort…


Book cover of Tyburn's Martyrs: Execution in England, 1675-1775

Una McIlvenna Author Of Singing the News of Death: Execution Ballads in Europe 1500-1900

From my list on the history of capital punishment.

Who am I?

When I started researching the history of early modern public execution, I read a few eyewitness accounts in which people behaved so strangely that I realised I understood nothing about the realities of this once-common historical practice. By reading the books on this list, I quickly discovered that the ceremony of capital punishment was a performance in which the entire community participated, filled with rituals and behaviours that had enormous emotional and spiritual significance for everyone involved, not just the ‘poor sinner’ on the scaffold. I also discovered that music and singing were crucial parts of the performance, with ballads being sung about the event for years afterwards. 

Una's book list on the history of capital punishment

Una McIlvenna Why did Una love this book?

McKenzie looks at the extraordinary phenomenon of the 'last dying speech' that condemned prisoners in Britain got to give from the scaffold. In particular, she explores events at Tyburn, London's most notorious execution site, in the 18th century, exploring how this period saw an explosion of printed literature that featured the criminal as an Everyman from whom everyone could learn a harsh lesson in morality. It's a fantastic exploration of the reality of the gallows versus what one could read in print: from the 'game' highwayman who refused to bow to society's expectations to the fearful, trembling prisoner who begged for mercy. Totally fascinating. 

By Andrea McKenzie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tyburn's Martyrs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The public execution at Tyburn is one of the most evocative and familiar of all eighteenth-century images. Whether it elicits horror or prurient fascination - or both - the Tyburn hanging day has become synonymous with the brutality of a bygone age and a legal system which valued property over human life.But, as this fascinating cultural and social history of the gallows reveals, the early modern execution was far more than just a debased spectator sport. The period between the Restoration and the American Revolution witnessed the rise and fall of a vast body of execution literature - last dying…


Book cover of Seeing Justice Done: The Age of Spectacular Capital Punishment in France

Una McIlvenna Author Of Singing the News of Death: Execution Ballads in Europe 1500-1900

From my list on the history of capital punishment.

Who am I?

When I started researching the history of early modern public execution, I read a few eyewitness accounts in which people behaved so strangely that I realised I understood nothing about the realities of this once-common historical practice. By reading the books on this list, I quickly discovered that the ceremony of capital punishment was a performance in which the entire community participated, filled with rituals and behaviours that had enormous emotional and spiritual significance for everyone involved, not just the ‘poor sinner’ on the scaffold. I also discovered that music and singing were crucial parts of the performance, with ballads being sung about the event for years afterwards. 

Una's book list on the history of capital punishment

Una McIlvenna Why did Una love this book?

Many think that the medieval period was the era of cruel and sadistic punishment, but it was, in fact, the Renaissance that saw the rise of the great spectacle of the 'theatre of horror': scaffolds erected to display the brutal dismemberment and suffering of executed prisoners in front of thousands of spectators. Although it focuses on France, Friedland's study explores why, all across Europe, this period saw an appetite for something so graphic. It explores the history of capital punishment from the Romans onwards, so it's essential reading for the theory behind executions, but the real strength lies in its exploration of the gulf between what theorists believed and what the general public actually did at executions, and why they attended in their thousands. 

By Paul Friedland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the early Middle Ages to the twentieth century, capital punishment in France, as in many other countries, was staged before large crowds of spectators. Paul Friedland traces the theory and practice of public executions over time, both from the perspective of those who staged these punishments as well as from the vantage point of the many thousands who came to "see justice done". While penal theorists often stressed that the fundamental purpose of public
punishment was to strike fear in the hearts of spectators, the eagerness with which crowds flocked to executions and the extent to which spectators actually…


Book cover of J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life

Pierce Taylor Hibbs Author Of Struck Down but Not Destroyed

From my list on anxiety and faith.

Who am I?

Pierce Taylor Hibbs (MAR, ThM Westminster Theological Seminary) has lived with an anxiety disorder for over fourteen years and offers a unique perspective on how anxiety and faith are interconnected. He is the award-winning Christian author of many books, including Struck Down but Not Destroyed: Living Faithfully with Anxiety. Other books he's written on anxiety include Still, Silent, and Strong: Meditations for the Anxious Heart and Finding Hope in Hard Things: A Positive Take on Suffering

Pierce's book list on anxiety and faith

Pierce Taylor Hibbs Why did Pierce love this book?

Like most people, I’ve had to weather some tough experiences (the early death of my father, an anxiety disorder, crippling self-doubt). What am I supposed to do with them, and with other tough experiences to come? Just survive, try to make it to the next day? This book helped me find a resounding “No” to that question. While it wasn’t explicitly about anxiety, it focused on something that anxiety sufferers always deal with: interpreting their anxiety and suffering in light of hope.  Miller showed me how each of my little daily challenges were really just opportunities to “die with Christ and rise again.” In short, he showed me how to find new life through my anxiety, not merely to see anxiety as a constant, losing battle. If you want to learn from your anxiety, and from every other hard experience in your life, you need to interpret it in a…

By Paul E. Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book explores what it means to live out Jesus's pattern of dying and rising in order to root our hope and tether our faith to Christ in all the ups and downs of life.


Book cover of The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm

Phillip Lopate Author Of To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction

From my list on comic essay collections.

Who am I?

I have been a champion of the essay form for some time, starting with my popular anthology Art of the Personal Essay and extending to my more recent trio of anthologies of the American essay. At the same time I have written four personal essay collections of my own, and I know I am really cooking when I can still laugh or at least smile at my jokes after the fifth or tenth reading of a piece I wrote. I have to admit that I can only appreciate writing (by myself or others) that is amusing or at least ironic, never solemn: to me the truth of existence is comic, like it or not.

Phillip's book list on comic essay collections

Phillip Lopate Why did Phillip love this book?

I love Max, he always makes me laugh because he is so naughty and mischievous. He is utterly unafraid of going against the grain of social propriety, or admitting to his own selfish motives, jealousies, and contrariety. He has a wonderfully conversational style that engages the reader without pandering. (I should also admit that I wrote the introduction to this collection).

By Max Beerbohm,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

AN NYRB CLASSICS ORIGINAL
 
Virginia Woolf called Max Beerbohm “the prince” of essayists, F. W. Dupee praised his “whim of iron” and “cleverness amounting to genius,” while Beerbohm himself noted that “only the insane take themselves quite seriously.” From his precocious debut as a dandy in 1890s Oxford until he put his pen aside in the aftermath of World War II, Beerbohm was recognized as an incomparable observer of modern life and an essayist whose voice was always and only his own. Here Phillip Lopate, one of the finest essayists of our day, has selected the finest of Beerbohm’s essays.…


Book cover of The Master Plan of Evangelism

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

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

Who am I?

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?

In the 1950s, Robert Coleman, then a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, was assigned to teach a class on evangelism. But he had a problem: he had no idea what to say. So he decided to pore over the four Gospels to discern Jesus’ strategy for winning people to his message. His lecture notes became The Master Plan of Evangelism.

The reach of The Master Plan since its publication in 1963 has been enormous. Billy Graham even wrote the foreword. But Jesus’ model of training a few was so alien to the operating systems of 20th-century churches and traveling evangelists that generations had no idea how to implement it. Not many books have been so widely read and so little applied. Yet if you only read one book on this subject, make this the one. And if you’ve already read it long ago, read it again.

By Robert E. Coleman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For more than forty years this classic study has shown Christians how to minister to the people God brings into their lives. Instead of drawing on the latest popular fad or the newest selling technique, Dr. Robert E. Coleman looks to the Bible to find the answer to the question: What was Christ's strategy for evangelism? This convenient, portable format has an updated look for a new generation of readers.


Book cover of The One O'Clock Miracle Storybook: A true story about trusting the words of Jesus

Nancy Tupper Ling Author Of One Perfect Plan: The Bible's Big Story in Tiny Poems

From my list on Christian picture reads for kids.

Who am I?

As a children’s author, poet, bookseller, and librarian, I surround myself with books and sometimes books of faith. I remember the joy I felt reading many Bible stories with my parents as a child. It took months to journey from the battle of David and Goliath to the bravery of Queen Esther, and then onto Jesus’ miracles. Exploring something new, I decided to tell these stories through short poem, so a family could read an entire book in one sitting. I truly appreciate when faith-based books work to build the love of God for young readers. Thankfully, more books exist now to show young readers what a faith-centric life looks like.

Nancy's book list on Christian picture reads for kids

Nancy Tupper Ling Why did Nancy love this book?

We’re pulled into this story right from the title of Mitchell’s book.

Inquiring minds wonder: What miracle happened at one o’clock? Soon we discover a father who’s beginning a very long journey to find Jesus, the only one who might heal his dying son. The problem is Jesus is preaching far away in Cana. What if the man’s son passes away before he can return to him? Still, the father walks for miles and miles until he finds Jesus, who instructs the man to return home, for his son will be healed.

Could a miracle have happened at one o’clock, as soon as Jesus spoke, miles away from the sick child? We can all be inspired by this grown man who had the faith of a child and believed. 

By Alison Mitchell, Catalina Echeverri (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The One O'Clock Miracle Storybook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Stunning retelling of the story of Jesus healing the official’s son that will teach children about the instant power of Jesus' words.

Based on the healing of the official’s son in John chapter 4, this wonderful storybook will teach children about the instant power of the words of Jesus, and that they should trust Jesus because he is God’s Son.

Stunningly illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, author and illustrator of several bestselling children’s books and all the storybooks in the Tales That Tell the Truth series from The Good Book Company.

This book is perfect for children aged 3-6 years old…


Book cover of Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?

Craig L. Blomberg Author Of Making Sense of the New Testament

From my list on making sense of the New Testament.

Who am I?

I have just retired after teaching 35 years in the New Testament department at Denver Seminary. I have authored, co-authored, or co-edited thirty books related to New Testament studies and more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles or chapters in multi-author books. I have learned that most of the reasons people don’t believe in part or all of the Bible is because they don’t understand it properly, so my passion is to try to rectify that. The New Testament changed my life for the better, as it has hundreds of millions of other people. I just want to help that number continue to grow.

Craig's book list on making sense of the New Testament

Craig L. Blomberg Why did Craig love this book?

Nothing has superseded this in the twenty-seven years since it was published. Wenham has spent his entire career returning again and again to the issue of Jesus and Paul, showing that despite many superficial differences, the core messages of these two crucial figures at the beginning of Christianity mesh well with each other. It contains discussions as well of all the places where Paul actually quotes or alludes to Jesus’ teaching, though many scholars have not always recognized these. Despite frequent claims to the contrary, Paul is most decidedly not the true founder of Christianity but a faithful follower of Jesus. Now retired, Wenham has been a great encouragement to me at key stages of my scholarly career.

By David Wenham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book provides a broad, popular look at the relationship between Paul and Jesus. Wenham studies the Gospels and Paul's letters, systematically compares the teachings of Jesus and Paul, and reveals the intriguing connections and differences between the two. His conclusions make this volume a ground-breaking work with exciting implications.


Book cover of Quarantine

Jonathan Trigell Author Of The Tongues of Men or Angels

From my list on fiction with Jesus as a character.

Who am I?

I’m the author of five extremely different novels: Boy A (which was made into an award-winning film), Cham, Genus, The Tongues of Men or Angels, and Under Country. They share almost nothing in subject or setting. Ranging from first-century Judaea to a future London. From ski resort workers in France to young offender prisons in Britain. My latest work - Under Country - is about the 1984 Miners’ Strike and its still lingering scars in the North East pit villages. Yet, I suppose, if there were a unifying theme between them, it would be that each, in its own way, is influenced by and fascinated with Christianity.

Jonathan's book list on fiction with Jesus as a character

Jonathan Trigell Why did Jonathan love this book?

Written long before quarantines became so fashionable, Jesus in Jim Crace’s novel is an almost peripheral player, because set during Christ’s forty days in the wilderness six other people share in the inhospitable desert caves, miracles, and hallucinations. Each character has their own troubles and trials; their own battles with demons to resolve; which they hope isolation and fasting will accomplish. And for each, in ingenious ways, it does… I am a big fan of Crace’s style, rhythm, and invention, and this is one of his finest works.

By Jim Crace,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With an introduction by Stuart Evers

So this is happiness, she thought. Or this, at least, is what adds up to happiness. The prospect of never running after men and camels any more, of being Miri without shame or hesitation, of letting drop her headscarf for a change so that nothing intervened between her and the sky.

Five travellers venture into the Judean wilderness in search of redemption. Instead, amidst the barren rocks, they are met by a dangerous man, Musa, and fall under his dark influence. As the unforgiving days and bitter nights erode their resolve, it becomes clear…


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