I have been very impressed with Oxford’s Very Short Introduction To… series. There are hundreds of books in this series in a wide variety of subjects. Each book is about 150 pages and is written by an expert in the field. The prices go up and down, but $5.24 is the lowest that the prices for these books seem to go. A number of the ones that I have bee interested in have recently dropped to $5.24. Bookwi.se has reviewed 3 of the series, The Reformation, Protestantism and the Bible. The first two were excellent, the third was fairly mediocre. None of the books have many reviews. Below are links to 53 books all priced at $5.24. All of the series is lendable on kindle.
168 pages, 5 of 7 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled
Exploring the cultural and institutional dimensions of Christianity, and tracing its course over two millennia, this book provides a fresh, lively, and candid portrait of its past and present. Addressing topics that other studies neglect, including the competition for power between different forms of Christianity, the churches’ uses of power, and their struggles with modernity, Linda Woodhead concludes by showing the ways in which those who previously had the least power in Christianity–women
and non-Europeans–have become increasingly central to its unfolding story.
Jesus: A Very Short Introduction – $5.24
145 pages, 4 of 4 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled
Two billion people today identify as Christians, with the implication that Jesus is the focus of their relationship with God, and their way of living in the world. Such followers of Jesus are now more numerous and make up a greater proportion of the world’s population than ever before. Despite its decline in the West, Christianity is rapidly increasing in areas such as Africa and China.
Richard Bauckham explores the historical figure of Jesus, evaluating the sources and concluding that they provide us with good historical evidence for his life and teaching. In order to place Jesus in his proper historical context, as a Jew from Galilee in the early first century of our era, Bauckham looks at Jewish religion and society in the land of Israel under Roman rule. He explores Jesus’ symbolic practices as well as his teachings, looks at his public career and emphasises how his
actions, such as healing and his association with notorious sinners, were just as important as his words.
Bauckham shows that Jesus was devoted to the God of Israel, with a special focus on God’s fatherly love and compassion, and like every Jewish teacher he expounded the Torah, but did so in his own distinctive way. With a discussion about the way Jesus understood himself and what finally led to his death as a criminal on a Roman cross, he concludes by considering the significance Jesus has come to have for Christian faith worldwide.
160 pages, 3 of 4 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled
As ancient literature and a cornerstone of the Christian faith, the New Testament has exerted a powerful religious and cultural impact. But how much do we really know about its origins? Who were the people who actually wrote the sacred texts that became part of the Christian Bible? The New Testament: A Very Short Introduction authoritatively addresses these questions, offering a fresh perspective on the underpinnings of this profoundly influential collection of writings.
In this concise, engaging book, noted New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson takes readers on a journey back to the time of the early Roman Empire, when the New Testament was written in ordinary Greek (koine) by the first Christians. The author explains how the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and Revelation evolved into the canon of sacred writings for the Christian religion, and how they reflect a reinterpretation of the symbolic world and societal forces of first-century Greco-Roman and Jewish life. Equally important, readers will find both a positive and critical reading of the New Testament–one that looks beyond its theological orientation to reveal an often-surprising diversity of viewpoints. This one-of-a-kind introduction engages four distinct dimensions of the earliest Christian writings–anthropological, historical, religious, and literary–to provide readers with a broad conceptual and factual framework. In addition, the book takes an in-depth look at compositions that have proven to be particularly relevant over the centuries, including Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Romans and the Gospels of John, Mark, Matthew, and Luke.
Ideal for general readers and students alike, this fascinating resource characterizes the writing of the New Testament not as an unknowable abstraction or the product of divine intervention, but as an act of human creativity by people whose real experiences, convictions, and narratives shaped modern Christianity.
160 pages, 4 of 4 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled
Eminent biblical scholar Michael D. Coogan offers here a wide-ranging and stimulating exploration of the Old Testament, illuminating its importance as history, literature, and sacred text.
Coogan explains the differences between the Bible of Jewish tradition (the “Hebrew Bible”) and the Old Testament of Christianity, and also examines the different contents of the Bibles used by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Protestants. He looks at the rise of modern biblical scholarship as well as the recovery of ancient Near Eastern literatures and their significance for biblical interpretation. Coogan explores the use of invented dialogue and historical fiction in the Old Testament, the presence of mythic elements in apparently historical accounts, and the relationship of ancient Israelite myths to those of their neighbors. The book considers the Old Testament’s idea of divine justice, especially in Ecclesiastes and Job, and looks at notions of the afterlife in the ancient Near East and in ancient Israel. Coogan highlights the significance of the history and literature of the Old Testament and describes how non-biblical evidence, such as archaeological data and texts, has placed the Old Testament in a larger and more illuminating context. The book also discusses law and ritual in the Bible as well as the biblical understandings of prophecy. Here then is a marvelous overview of one of the great pillars of Western religion and culture, a book whose significance has endured for thousands of years and which remains vitally important today for Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide.
Also many more: The Reformation, The Roman Empire, Relativity, Late Antiquity, The Law of Thermodynamics, The Renaissance, The First World War, Chaos, Augustine, Buddhism, Economics, Aristotle, Science and Religion, Critical Theory, Communism, Continental Philosophy, Particle Physics, The Brain, Human Rights, Existentialism, Law, Global Economic History, Socialism, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Capitalism, Foucault, Consciousness, Keynes, The Great Depression and the New Deal, Frued, Classical Mythology, Myth, Classics, Scientific Revolution, Modernism, Existentialism, Nothing, English Literature, Numbers, Progressivism, The History of Life, Political Philosophy, Ideology, Geopolitics, International Relations, Epidemiology, United Nations, Statistics, Madness, and more
I have not read any of these books, so they may not be any good. Some of the books from previous Free Book posts are still available for free. If you want to see all free books as they come out you should follow Books on the Knob on their RSS or Twitter Feed. Or Ireaderreview or the many free book threads on Amazon’s Message Boards.
As always please check to make sure the books are still free before you “buy” them, especially from Amazon. Prices can change quickly. This may be a one day offer. Pick it up quick. If you do buy a book and realize later you have been charged for it, here is a guide on how to return a kindle book.