Christianity has a huge influence on our culture and references to it come up in many literary and philosophical texts. Not to mention I really enjoy a lot of the stories like David and Golaith, Adam and Eve, Abraham and his Son for their philosophical merits. I grew up in a non-Christian home and didn't have any real exposure to Christianity. Also I am an atheist so I am not really looking for literature "preaches but explains to me about the history and teaching of the religion.

What texts can you recommend for someone starting out to learn about Christianity from an academic perspective? Also there are many bibles out there can you give me flavor of the "core" bibles and what they focus on and the style and context in which they are written? Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Your question, though certainly a good one, is not a good one for this site, which focuses on the beliefs of particular Christian denominations, and the Biblical basis for those beliefs. See: What topics can I ask about here? StackExchange just isn't set up to answer questions that big and broad. May I suggest talking to a local pastor, perhaps from one of the mainline churches? Apr 3, 2016 at 22:04

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A very readable overview of Christian history may be found in Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley.

A deeper dive into more recent history is Eerdman's Handbook to Christianity in America.

For a good overview of the common beliefs shared by a majority of Christian groups, try Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

For a somewhat polemical take on the contributions of the Catholic church, try How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods.

The last book I will cite I have not read, but comes well-reviewed:

David Daniell. The Bible in English: Its History and Influence. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003. xx + 899 pp. $40.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-300-09930-0. The following review should make it clear how comprehensive is the author's study of the impact of the English Bible on English culture: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=9709


Religion raises a lot of emotions and is hard to deal with objectively. As a result, there is very little material that does not 'preach' - either to bring you into the fold or to show you how wrong Christianity really is.

You appear to be interested in learning the Bible stories, rather than understanding the theology that ties these stories together, so I did a search. I have not read the following book, so can not actually recommend it, but it may fit the bill: Bible Stories for Adults, by James Morrow

"Morrow unabashedly delves into matters both sacred and secular in this collection of short stories buoyed by his deliciously irreverent wit."

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