Please point me toward some religious history lessons.
December 29, 2011 9:14 PM Subscribe
I'm doing some shallow research on Christianity, its development and its place in popular life throughout time. Please help me find outstanding books on this subject!
posted by the liquid oxygen to Religion & Philosophy (19 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks to past Asks on the topic, I've either already acquired or am in the process of acquiring the following:
Don't Know Much About the Bible
The New Testament Canon: Its Making and Meaning
Understanding the Bible: A Reader's Guide and Reference
The New Oxford Annotated Bible, NRSV (since the Bibles I already had were in the Catholic tradition)
This seems like a good start for a broad view, but I'm not interested solely in the Bible. I'm also looking for accounts of how the Christian tradition acquired its many folk tales, legends, splinter sects and observances that lack clear origins in accepted, canonical Biblical writings. For instance, I'd love to read about the Gnostics. I'd love to learn about how Mary became so important in Catholicism. I'd love to hear more about the figure of Satan and his evolution from a minor character in the OT into the force of nature he is in modern Christianity. I'm mystified by the elaborate systems of angel- and demonology that Christians arrived at centuries after the fact. If there are any compelling books you can recommend on more specialized subjects like these, please let me know about them!
My POV is that of a former Christian who is now an atheist-leaning agnostic, so I have a preference for skeptical (though not necessarily critical) authors, or at the very least, authors who are not hostile to the idea of questioning their faith. Scholarly stuff is also okay, but the less dry, the better. That's why it's shallow research, see?
I do have some background in basic religious concepts, so it doesn't have to be 100% entry-level. But clear language helps, and is preferred.