10 books like Who Wrote the Bible?

By Richard Elliott Friedman,

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

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How to Read the Bible

By James L. Kugel,

Book cover of How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now

James Kugel, a professor at Harvard and then Bar Ilan University in Israel, has been writing for years on how the Hebrew Bible was read and understood in antiquity. How to Read the Bible will bring you on a remarkable journey through time. Kugel selectively goes through the Hebrew Bible, contrasting how those in antiquity read, understood, and interpreted biblical stories with how modern scholars do. The book is long, and can be read in sections. Kugel’s discussions of both the academic study of the Bible and the way he understands the Bible as both a critic and an Orthodox Jew, are outstanding.

How to Read the Bible

By James L. Kugel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

James Kugel’s essential introduction and companion to the Bible combines modern scholarship with the wisdom of ancient interpreters for the entire Hebrew Bible.

As soon as it appeared, How to Read the Bible was recognized as a masterwork, “awesome, thrilling” (The New York Times), “wonderfully interesting, extremely well presented” (The Washington Post), and “a tour de force...a stunning narrative” (Publishers Weekly). Now, this classic remains the clearest, most inviting and readable guide to the Hebrew Bible around—and a profound meditation on the effect that modern biblical scholarship has had on traditional belief.

Moving chapter by chapter, Harvard professor James Kugel…


Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

By Elaine Pagels,

Book cover of Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity

This is another classic book that examines specifically how early Christians read the story of Adam and Eve. If you thought that the message of this story was obvious, think again. Pagels expertly guides us through the intersection of biblical interpretation, sexuality, and power, and shows how there were many different and competing Christian interpretations of this story, each of which had serious ramifications for Christian practice and life. It was not a straight path to Augustine’s theory of original sin.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

By Elaine Pagels,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author deepens and refreshes our view of early Christianity while casting a disturbing light on the evolution of the attitudes passed down to us. 

"Confirms her reputation as both a scholar and a popular interpreter.... Continuously rewarding and illuminating." —The New York Times

How did the early Christians come to believe that sex was inherently sinful? When did the Fall of Adam become synonymous with the fall of humanity? What turned Christianity from a dissident sect that  championed the integrity of the individual and the idea of free will into…


The Jewish Study Bible

By Adele Berlin (editor), Marc Zvi Brettler (editor),

Book cover of The Jewish Study Bible

I’m going to cheat here and put this book together with two others, The Jewish Annotated New Testament and The Jewish Annotated Apocrypha. Each of these three books has the biblical text; explanatory notes that include scholarly perspectives; and a lengthy set of essays by well-noted scholars. All of these parts of the Bible were written (primarily) by and for Jews in antiquity—including much of the New Testament—and these books seek to recover how they were read and functioned in antiquity.

The Jewish Study Bible

By Adele Berlin (editor), Marc Zvi Brettler (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 2004, The Jewish Study Bible is a landmark, one-volume resource tailored especially for the needs of students of the Hebrew Bible. It has won acclaim from readers in all religious traditions.

The Jewish Study Bible combines the entire Hebrew Bible-in the celebrated Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation-with explanatory notes, introductory materials, and essays by leading biblical scholars on virtually every aspect of the text, the world in which it was written, its interpretation, and its role in Jewish life. The quality of scholarship, easy-to-navigate format, and vibrant supplementary features bring the ancient text to life.

This second…


A Guide for the Perplexed

By Dara Horn,

Book cover of A Guide for the Perplexed

Although this is my fun pick, it is also a serious book that I use in the classroom. There have been countless attempts by modern authors to retell biblical stories. Horn’s book creatively transfers the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers to the modern period, with a feminist twist. This book is engaging and coherent enough that it can be read and enjoyed without any knowledge of the Bible or Jewish history, although such knowledge makes it all the better!

A Guide for the Perplexed

By Dara Horn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Guide for the Perplexed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When she visits the Library of Alexandria as a tech consultant, she is abducted in Egypt's postrevolutionary chaos with only a copy of the philosopher Maimonides' famous work to anchor her-leaving her jealous sister Judith free to take over her life. A century earlier, Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter arrives in Egypt, hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. Their stories intertwine in this spellbinding novel of how technology changes memory and how memory shapes the soul.


The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha

By Michael Coogan (editor), Marc Brettler (editor), Carol Newsom (editor), Pheme Perkins (editor)

Book cover of The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha

Another book that takes forever to read, and another book that I haven't yet finished. Why this particular edition? Because, in addition to the fragmentation that is inherent to all versions of The Bible, the NOABWA has footnotes. Enough footnotes to make the previously-mentioned Infinite Jest look like a half-assed high school research paper. Those footnotes ensure that, even when a plot threatens to show itself, the reader will be immediately distracted by a reminder that nobody actually knows how long a cubit is. If a book that hasn't even defined the value of its base units can become a bestseller, then, by gum, I can write a novel in which the concept of time is stretched and folded like the crust of a croissant. And so can you!

The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha

By Michael Coogan (editor), Marc Brettler (editor), Carol Newsom (editor), Pheme Perkins (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For over 50 years students, professors, clergy, and general readers have relied on The New Oxford Annotated Bible as an unparalleled authority in Study Bibles. This fifth edition of the Annotated remains the best way to study and understand the Bible at home or in the classroom. This thoroughly revised and substantially updated edition contains the best scholarship informed by recent discoveries and anchored in the solid Study Bible tradition.

* Introductions and extensive annotations for each book by acknowledged experts in the field provide context and guidance.
* Introductory essays on major groups of biblical writings - Pentateuch, Prophets,…


Counted With the Stars

By Connilyn Cossette,

Book cover of Counted With the Stars

I love biblical historical fiction because there are so many ways to write it. Some write about specific biblical characters, while others—like Connilyn Cossette—write about biblical events and then create fictional characters who become swept up in actual historical events. I’m also completely captured by Cossette’s romantic threads. She expertly hooks my heart into a series by choosing a minor character from the first story and making me care deeply for that hero/heroine by page three of the next book. Her irresistible characters and settings embody the dust, heat, and hardships of Egypt, and the tender romances linger in my memory for years.

Counted With the Stars

By Connilyn Cossette,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Story of Love, Desperation, and Hope During a Great Biblical Epoch
Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.
To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she's only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people.…


The Shadow Women

By Angela Hunt,

Book cover of The Shadow Women

When I started writing biblical historical fiction in the early 2000s, I found only one or two novels about Moses. Shadow Women was especially helpful because it spanned Moses’s whole life, which meant it also encompassed the biblical narrative from Exodus to Deuteronomy. It was like Cliff Notes for four Books of the Bible! As my writing friendships have expanded over the past two decades, I’ve come to know Angela Hunt personally and discovered that she holds a PhD in Biblical Studies, which gives me even more confidence in the historical and biblical accuracy of her many biblical novels. She continues to be one of my favorite authors. 

The Shadow Women

By Angela Hunt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Library Journal

The three main women in Moses's life narrate his dramatic story from their perspectives. Miryam, his seven-year-old sister, and Merytamon, his 14-year-old adoptive mother, cover his early years as an Egyptian prince. Nine-year-old Zipporah, his future wife, tells of Moses' time with her father, a priest, and their family. After God reveals himself to Moses, Miryam recounts the liberation of the Jewish people and their escape from Egypt, and Zipporah and Miryam recall the years in the wilderness. The animosity and jealousy Miryam feels for both Merytomon and Zipporah flood the narrative, poisoning their happiness, but Moses…


Miriam

By Mesu Andrews,

Book cover of Miriam: A Treasures of the Nile Novel

I loved Miriam—one of many of Mesu Andrew’s novels of Old Testament women—because this aged woman brings a fresh perspective to the well-known story of the Exodus from Egypt. Her lived experience from slavery to freedom—and from despair to hopeas she searches for the God of her brother, Moses, is both familiar and utterly new. Mesu Andrews weaves a beautiful tapestry of a story that breathes new and fascinating life into a familiar story.

Miriam

By Mesu Andrews,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Hebrews call me prophetess, the Egyptians a seer.
But I am neither. I am simply a watcher of Israel
and the messenger of El Shaddai.
When He speaks to me in dreams, I interpret. When He whispers a melody, I sing.

At eighty-six, Miriam had devoted her entire life to loving El Shaddai and serving His people as both midwife and messenger. Yet when her brother Moses returns to Egypt from exile, he brings a disruptive message. God has a new name – Yahweh – and has declared a radical deliverance for the Israelites.
 
 Miriam and her beloved family…


The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant,

Book cover of The Red Tent

This interpretation of the Biblical story of Dinah is beautifully written in the first-person perspective. It exquisitely and vividly invokes a lost and fascinating ancient world. I particularly enjoy Diamant’s depiction and celebration of the love between mothers and daughters, all while honoring the resilience and resolve of the female spirit.

The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Red Tent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Red Tent Anita Diamant brings the fascinating biblical character of Dinah to vivid life.

'Intensely moving . . . feminist . . . a riveting tale of love' - Observer

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her fate is merely hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the verses of the Book of Genesis that recount the life of Jacob and his infamous dozen sons. Anita Diamant's The Red Tent is an extraordinary and engrossing tale of ancient womanhood and family honour. Told in Dinah's voice, it opens with the story of her mothers -…


The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt

By Ian Shaw,

Book cover of The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt

I always start my research at a library. I find the shelves on Egyptian history, grab a stack of books, plop down on the floor, and read until I can’t feel my legs. There’s never a shortage of Egyptology resources, but why must the scholars always disagree? Only by reading widely can I find a golden thread of agreement across the many sources. Oftentimes, a particular scholar will emerge as the leading expert on a particular time period and appear in a majority of quoted material and/or bibliographies. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt was both easy to understand and included interesting details while also following the consensus of the best New Kingdom scholars.

The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt

By Ian Shaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The essays and illustrations in this history portray the emergence and development of the distinctive civilization of the ancient Egyptians, from their prehistoric origins to their incorporation into the Roman Empire, covering the period from around 7000 BCE to 311. The authors outline the principal sequence of political events, including detailed examinations of the three so-called "intermediate periods" which were previously regarded as "dark ages" and are only now beginning to be better understood. Against the backdrop of the rise and fall of ruling dynasties, this book also examines cultural and social patterns, including stylistic developments in art and literature.…


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