The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon


Marcus J. Borg - 2009
    A refreshing and heartening exculpation of a still routinely maligned figure of the first importance to culture and civilization.” — Booklist (starred review)John Dominic Crossan and Marcus J. Borg—two of the world’s top-selling Christian scholars and the bestselling authors of The Last Week and The First Christmas—once again shake up the status quo by arguing that the message of the apostle Paul, considered by many to be the second most important figure in Christianity, has been domesticated by the church. Borg and Crossan turn the common perception of Paul on its head, revealing him as a radical follower of Jesus whose core message is still relevant today.

The Acts of the Apostles


William Barclay - 1953
    Barclay wrote both his gospel and Acts for the principal purpose of showing how the new faith that began so humbly in Palestine had expanded, Dr. Barclay discusses the plan in Acts, Luke's skill as a historian, the accuracy of his sources, and the honesty with which he used them.

St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate


Karen Armstrong - 2015
    Paul is known throughout the world as the first Christian writer, authoring fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. But as Karen Armstrong demonstrates in St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate, he also exerted a more significant influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the world than any other figure in history. It was Paul who established the first Christian churches in Europe and Asia in the first century, Paul who transformed a minor sect into the largest religion produced by Western civilization, and Paul who advanced the revolutionary idea that Christ could serve as a model for the possibility of transcendence. While we know little about some aspects of the life of St. Paul—his upbringing, the details of his death—his dramatic vision of God on the road to Damascus is one of the most powerful stories in the history of Christianity, and the life that followed forever changed the course of history.

Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church


Stephen K. Ray - 1999
    He tackles the tough issues in an attempt to expose how the opposition is misunderstanding the Scriptures and history. He uses many Protestant scholars and historians to support the Catholic position. This book contains the most complete compilation of Scriptural and Patristic quotations on the primacy of Peter and the Papal office of any book available. It has over 500 footnotes with supporting evidence from Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, and non-Christian authorities.

Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties


Trent Horn - 2016
     In Hard Sayings, Trent looks at dozens of the most confounding passages in Scripture and offers clear, reasonable, and Catholic keys to unlocking their true meaning.

The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins


Burton L. Mack - 1993
    The first book to give the full account of the lost gospel of Jesus' original followers, revealing him to be a Jewish Socrates who was mythologized into the New Testament Christ.

The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love


John Shelby Spong - 2005
    Beyond that he also looks at scriptures that have helped shape culture and history -- bringing to light the undercurrent of anti-Semitism he finds in the Gospels, for example. The journey is particularly compelling because Bishop Spong believes in and values the good the Bible has brought to many through the ages. His goal is not to define the Bible itself as something to be set aside, but instead to honor and value what he loves about it while still labeling what he dramatically calls "texts of terror" for what they are. The true joy of the book is found in Spong's vigorous intellect, which he shines bright in an attempt to catch a reflection of the age, culture and circumstances in which the texts he examines were written. Like an archaeologist working with ideas instead of tools, he removes the rocks, brushes away the sediment and reports on what he finds. What were the roots and cultural realities behind the Scriptures that define the role of women in the church? What were the hopes and fears driving the writers who condemned homosexuality in such stark terms? What is the justification behind scriptures recommending "the rod of correction" (or as Bishop Spong simply labels it: "[t]he physical abuse of children…".) Whether or not you agree with some of his musings along the way, many of his conclusions are hard to argue with. Putting aside the issue of divine origin of the Bible, no one can deny passages have been used in service of very human ends. Finally, The Sins of Scriptures can be seen as a careful observer of what those ends have been. And when taken on those terms, it makes an interesting read, regardless of one's religious background.--Ed Dobeas

What Have They Done with Jesus? Beyond Strange Theories & Bad History-Why We Can Trust the Bible


Ben Witherington III - 2006
    Ben Witherington, one of the top Jesus scholars, will have none of it. There were no secret Gnostic teachings in the first century. With leading scholars and popular purveyors of bad history in his crosshairs, Witherington reveals what we can—and cannot—claim to know about the real Jesus. The Bible, not outside sources, is still the most trustworthy historical record we have today.Utilizing a fresh "personality profile" approach, Witherington highlights core Christian claims by investigating the major figures in Jesus’s inner circle of followers: Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Thomas, Peter, James the brother of Jesus, Paul, and the mysterious "beloved disciple." In each chapter Witherington satisfies our curiosities and answers the full range of questions about these key figures and what each of them can teach us about the historical Jesus. What Have They Done with Jesus? is a vigorous defense of traditional Christianity that offers a compelling portrait of Jesus’s core message according to those who knew him best.

Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus


Michael J. Wilkins - 1995
    Their conclusions have been widely publicized in magazines such as Time and Newsweek. Jesus Under Fire challenges the methodology and findings of the Jesus Seminar, which generally clash with the biblical records. It examines the authenticity of the words, actions, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus, and presents compelling evidence for the traditional biblical teachings. Combining accessibility with scholarly depth, Jesus Under Fire helps readers judge for themselves whether the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus of history, and whether the gospels' claim is valid that he is the only way to God.

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ


Fleming Rutledge - 2015
    In this book Rutledge addresses the issues and controversies that have caused pastors to speak of the cross only in the most general, bland terms, precluding a full understanding and embrace of the gospel by their congregations.             Countering our contemporary tendency to bypass Jesus’ crucifixion, Rutledge in these pages examines in depth all the various themes and motifs used by the New Testament evangelists and apostolic writers to explain the meaning of the cross of Christ. She mines the classical writings of the Church Fathers, the medieval scholastics, and the Reformers as well as more recent scholarship, while bringing them all into contemporary context.             Widely known for her preaching, Rutledge seeks to encourage preachers, teachers, and anyone else interested in what Christians believe to be the central event of world history.

Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity


Bruce Bawer - 1997
    The meaningful distinction today is not between Protestant and Catholic, or Baptist and Episcopalian, but rather between "legalistic" and "nonlegalistic" religion, between the Church of Law and the Church of Love. On one side is the fundamentalist right, which draws a sharp distinction between "saved" and "unsaved" and worships a God of wrath and judgment; on the other are more mainstream Christians who view all humankind as children of a loving God who calls them to break down barriers of hate, prejudice, and distrust.Pointing out that the supposedly "traditional" beliefs of American fundamentalism--about which most mainstream Christians, clergy included, know shockingly little--are in fact of relatively recent origin, are distinctively American in many ways, and are dramatically at odds with the values that Jesus actually spread, Bawer fascinatingly demonstrates the way in which these beliefs have increasingly come to supplant genuinely fundamental Christian tenets in the American church and to become synonymous with Christianity in the minds of many people.Stealing Jesus is the ringing testament of a man who is equally disturbed by the notion of an America without Christianity and the notion of an American Christianity without love and compassion.

Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History & Legend


Bart D. Ehrman - 2006
     What do the writings of the New Testament tell us about each of these key followers of Christ? What legends have sprung up about them in the centuries after their deaths? Was Paul bow-legged and bald? Was Peter crucified upside down? Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute? In this lively work, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, presenting complicated historical issues in a clear and informative way and relating vivid anecdotes culled from the traditions of these three followers. He notes, for instance, that historians are able to say with virtual certainty that Mary, the follower of Jesus, was from the fishing village of Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (this is confirmed by her name, Mary Magdalene, reported in numerous independent sources); but there is no evidence to suggest that she was a prostitute (this legend can be traced to a sermon preached by Gregory the Great five centuries after her death), and little reason to think that she was married to Jesus. Similarly, there is no historical evidence for the well-known tale that Peter was crucified upside down. Ehrman also argues that the stories of Paul's miracle working powers as an apostle are legendary accounts that celebrate his importance. A serious book but vibrantly written and leavened with many colorful stories, Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene will appeal to anyone curious about the early Christian church and the lives of these important figures.

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding


Lois Tverberg - 2018
    By helping them understand the Bible as Jesus and his first-century listeners would have, she bridges the gaps of time and culture in order to open the Bible to readers today.Combining careful research with engaging prose, Tverberg leads us on a journey back in time to shed light on how this Middle Eastern people approached life, God, and each other. She explains age-old imagery that we often misinterpret, allowing us to approach God and the stories and teachings of Scripture with new eyes. By helping readers grasp the perspective of its original audience, she equips them to read the Bible in ways that will enrich their lives and deepen their understanding.

Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit: Growing in Christlikeness


Christopher J.H. Wright - 2017
    On the other hand, there are those who reject the whole idea of rules or traditions in the church and see the point of the Christian faith as setting us free from the institutionalized religious burden. But Paul addresses these two competing views by showing us a far better way--a truly Christian way to live our lives. It is the way of the Spirit of God given to us through Christ: "Walk by the Spirit . . . led by the Spirit . . . live by the Spirit . . . keep in step with the Spirit." That is the heart and soul of Christian living. It is the center and secret of what it means to be a person who belongs to Christ. Pastor and scholar Christopher Wright invites us to live a life in step with the Spirit by cultivating the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These nine chapters, each addressing a different fruit, each conclude with questions for contemplation or discussion. Feed on the Word of God, grow in Christlikeness, and live a fruitful life.

Being a Quaker: A Guide for Newcomers


Geoffrey Durham - 2011
    An inspiring exploration of the beliefs and commitment of a unique religious group, it was an instant sell-out when it first appeared in 2011. Geoffrey Durham has now revised and updated the book for its second edition, incorporating new developments and fresh thinking. With its well-judged balance of personal experience, spiritual guidance and practical advice, this book explains how Quaker meetings can change people, and then goes on to show the nature of the change. Quakers insist on working for peace, equality, simplicity and truth in their everyday lives and find themselves nourished and enriched by the experience. Being a Quaker: A Guide for Newcomers includes extracts from the testimony of Quakers of all backgrounds and beliefs, talking about the ways in which they put their religion into practice. It is a warm and incisive first book for all readers interested in Quakers, and an exhilarating read for anyone absorbed by the life of the Spirit.‘This book contains everything you always wanted to know about Quakerism but were afraid to ask. It is an ideal gift to give to newcomers who want to understand what ‘the Quaker way’ is all about.’ The Friend About the Author Geoffrey Durham became a Quaker in 1999. He was a contributor to the successful Twelve Quakers and … series of books, has compiled an anthology, The Spirit of the Quakers, and is a regular speaker at Quaker events. He has worked professionally in the performing arts for over forty years.