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  • Brian Chilcote

Where to Begin? Books and Podcasts you Should Know

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

There once was a book called the Bible

But some people labeled it libel

"Why?" you may ask

It was taken to task

For promoting a God who's too tribal!

We have in our hands a unique collection of ancient documents we call the Bible. Some treat it like it a magical book that speaks to them personally, giving advice and direction that applies to their everyday life. Others look at it as a fascinating compendium of ancient beliefs that help us understand the history of western civilization. Still others simply trust "the experts" to tell them what it means and hope that it helps them get to heaven after they die.

What is it really? Is it simple enough for children understand its stories and propositions? Does it have something to say to me and my faith community about our life together? Is a good English translation all I need in order to know and follow what's true about my past, present and future? Does God speak to us through The Word?

There's no shortage of debate about correct interpretations of what we read in the Bible. Many arguments have serious repercussions for individuals and churches; indeed, wars have been fought over the right way to understand the Bible. What follows is a list of titles in Cornerstone's library that we have found helpful in sorting out both the right questions to ask and some possible answers. You won't agree with everything in these volumes, but it will help you think more broadly about the ancient writings collected in our Old and New Testaments.

Ancient Near Eastern Culture

Walton; Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament

Walton; The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

Kugel and Greer; Early Biblical Interpretation (Library of Early Christianity)

Niditch; Oral World and Written Word: Ancient Israelite Literature

Schneidewind; How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel

New Testament

DeSilva; Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture

Rohrbaugh; The New Testament in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Malina and Pilch; Handbook of Biblical Social Values

Stambaugh and Balch; The New Testament in Its Social Environment (Library of Early Christianity)

Meeks; The Moral World of the First Christians (Library of Early Christianity)

Witherington; New Testament Rhetoric: An Introduction Guide to the Art of Persuasion in and of the New Testament

Malina and Rohrbaugh; Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels


Tabor; The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity

Allison; Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet

Borg and Wright; The Meaning of Jesus

Bond; The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed


Tabor ; Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity

Tabor; Paul’s Ascent to Paradise The Apostolic Message and Mission of Paul in the Light of His Mystical Experiences

Crossan and Reed; In Search of Paul: How Jesus' Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom

Meeks; The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul


Walton; The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority

Enns; How the Bible Actually Works

Borg; Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally

Finklestein and Silberman; The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts

Barton; The History of the Bible: The Book and its Faiths

Knight and Levine; The Meaning of the Bible


McLaren; Do I Stay Christian?

Digital / Online

You won't agree with everyone on these programs, but they will get you thinking!


YouTube Channels- Many of these can be listened to without reference to the visual content.

Mythvision There's a lot of content here to pick and choose from. Don't let the thumbnail graphics influence you- they are a bit over the top. The creator Derek Lambert isn't the best interviewer, but he has managed to host quite a few respected scholars (along with a few cranks).

James Tabor He's a retired professor from UNC Chapel Hill. His channel includes "...interviews, lectures, and related videos from my forty years exploring the academic study of the origins of Christianity and ancient Judaism."

Useful Charts- Religious Studies Collection Explanations of numerous world religions and their scriptures using innovative charts to trace their stories. Everything from Judaism to Hinduism to Norse mythology.

Yale Divinity School Lectures, video playlists and online course material on biblical and ministry topics. Most of these can be listened to without having to pay attention to visual content.

Kedem- The Ancient Near East an educational channel dedicated to the academic study of the ancient near east. Our mission is to provide scientifically based views and in-depth analysis about the history, archaeology, culture, and languages of the ancient near east - Assyria, Babylon and Egypt, with an emphasis on the history of Canaan and Ancient Israel.

The Center Place Lectures and discussion on history, theology, philosophy, religious studies, comparative religion, neuroscience, and more.

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