Some Scholarly Bibliography on the Historical Jesus and the Apostle Paul

Last Spring quarter, when I was taking graduate seminars on the New Testament and Christian Origins at UC Santa Barbara, I compiled a bibliography of notable scholarship over the last several decades on the historical Jesus and the apostle Paul as part of a class project. Since it is a useful reference list, I have decided to include the bibliography below.

(Note: While I recommend the books on this list, because they are important contributions to the field, that does not constitute agreement or endorsements, especially since they offer a wide range of differing views.)

Historical Jesus: 

Allison, Dale. Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010.

Allison, Dale. The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.

Allison, Dale. Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters. New York : T & T Clark, 2005. 

Allison, Dale. Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998.

Bauckham, Richard. Jesus: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Beilby, James and Paul Eddy, eds., The Historical Jesus: Five Views. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.

Borg, Marcus. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus & the Heart of Contemporary Faith. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

Borg, Marcus. Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship. London: A&C Black, 1994.

Borg, Marcus and N. T. Wright. The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999.

Bornkamm, Günther. Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1960.

Boyarin, Daniel. The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ. New York: New Press, 2012.

Broadhead, Edwin Keith. Jewish Ways of Following Jesus: Redrawing the Religious Map of Antiquity. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010.

Carrier, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reasons to DoubtSheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014.

Charlesworth, James. The Historical Jesus: An Essential Guide. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2008.

Chilton, Bruce and Craig Evans, eds., Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research. Leiden: Brill, 1998.

Crossan, John. The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus. New York: Harper Collins, 2012.

Crossan, John. Who Killed Jesus?: Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995.

Crossan, John. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.

Crossan, John. The Cross that Spoke: The Origins of the Passion Narrative. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.

Crossan, John. In Fragments: The Aphorisms of Jesus. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.

Ehrman, Bart. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: Harper Collins, 2014.

Ehrman, Bart. Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of NazarethNew York: Harper Collins, 2012.

Ehrman, Bart. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them). New York: Harper Collins, 2009.

Ehrman, Bart. Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Fredriksen, Paula. From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Funk, Robert. A Credible Jesus: Fragments of a Vision. Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 2002.

Holmén, Tom and Stanley Porter, eds., Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

Horsley, Richard. Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987.

Graham, Susan Lochrie. The Flesh was Made Word: A Metahistorical Critique of the Contemporary Quest of the Historical Jesus. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2010.

Kloppenborg, J.S. and J.W. Marshall. Apocalypticism, Anti-Semitism and the Historical Jesus: Subtexts in Criticism. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2005.

Levine, Amy-Jill. The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.

Meier, John. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus4 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

Price, Robert. Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Sanders, E. P. The Historical Figure of Jesus. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.

Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. Jesus and the Politics of Interpretation. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2000.

Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001.

Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998.

Vermès, Géza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010.

Vermès, Géza. The Resurrection. New York : Doubleday, 2008.

Vermès, Géza. Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981.

Wedderburn, A. J. M. Jesus and the Historians. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010.

White, L. Michael. Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite. New York: Harper Collins, 2010.

White, L. Michael. From Jesus to Christianity. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004.


Apostle Paul: 

Agamben, Giorgio. The Time That Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005.

Badiou, Alain. Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.

Barrett, C. K. Essays on Paul. London: SPCK Publishing, 1982.

Bornkamm, Günther. Paul. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

Cameron, Ron and Merrill Miller, eds., Redescribing Paul and the Corinthians. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011.

Dungan, D. L. The Sayings of Jesus in the Churches of Paul: The Use of the Synoptic Tradition in the Regulation of Early Church Life. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971.

Dunn, James. The New Perspective on Paul. Grand Rapid, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 

Eisenbaum, Pamela. Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle. New York: Harper Collins, 2009.

Engberg-Pedersen, Troels. Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Gager, John. Reinventing Paul. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Harink, Douglas, ed., Paul, Philosophy, and the Theopolitical Vision: Critical Engagements with Agamben, Badiou, Žižek, and Others. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010.

Hays, Richard. Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Hengel, Martin and Anna Maria Schwemer. Paul Between Damascus and Antioch: The Unknown Years. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1997.

Jewett, Robert. A Chronology of Paul’s Life. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979.

Käsemann, Ernst. Perspectives on Paul. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971.

Langton, Daniel. The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination: A Study in Modern Jewish-Christian Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Malherbe, Abraham. Paul and the Popular Philosophers. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989.

Martin, Dale. The Corinthian Body. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

Meeks, Wayne. The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.

Meeks, Wayne, ed., The Writings of St. Paul. New York: Norton, 1972.

Meggitt, Justin. Paul, Poverty and Survival. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998.

Mitchell, Margaret. Paul, the Corinthians, and the Birth of Christian Hermeneutics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. Paul: A Critical Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Oakes, Peter. Reading Romans in Pompeii: Paul’s Letter at Ground Level. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009.

Oakes, Peter. Philippians: From People to Letter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975.

Pervo, Richard. The Making of Paul: Constructions of the Apostle in Early Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010.

Roetzel, Calvin. Paul, a Jew on the Margins. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2003.

Sanders, E. P. Paul: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Sanders, E. P. Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1983.

Schweitzer, Albert. The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle. New York: Macmillan, 1960.

Segal, Alan. Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee. New Haven: Yale University, 1992.

Still, Todd and David Horrell. After the First Urban Christians: The Social-scientific Study of Pauline Christianity Twenty-five Years Later. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2009. 

Taubes, Jacob and Aleida Assmann. The Political Theology of Paul. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004.

Tellbe, Mikael. Paul between Synagogue and State: Christians, Jews, and Civic Authorities in 1 Thessalonians, Romans, and Philippians. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2001.

Theissen, Gerd. The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982.

Tomson, Peter. Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.


These are just the books that I listed for the class project, and I am sure there are many more worth mentioning. If you have any recommendations for other books to include, please feel free to name some in the comments below!

-Matthew Ferguson

This entry was posted in Bibliography, Historical Jesus, Historical Paul, History, Religious Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Some Scholarly Bibliography on the Historical Jesus and the Apostle Paul

  1. GeoffSmith says:

    Ernst Cassirer wrote a book about Paul and Kantian Ethics called, “Grace and Law: St. Paul, Kant, and the Hebrew Prophets.” I found it to be similar to Badiou’s treatment with respect to trying to bring Paul’s concepts into dialog with later philosophical developments. I found it very intriguing.

  2. wmcoppins says:

    Benjamin White, Remembering Paul. Ancient and Modern Contests over the Image of the Apostle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

  3. That’s great. I actually had just asked Tim O’Neill for some sources on the topic, since I couldn’t find any available lists online. Which of these books have you read, Matthew, and which do you recommend?

    • Hey Scott,

      Out of the authors listed above, my favorites are Dale Allison (particularly “Resurrecting Jesus”), John Crossan (“The Power of Parable” is a good new book by him), Bart Ehrman (all of his books are good), Daniel Boyarin, and L. Michael White (“Scripting Jesus” is really good).

      Likewise, Beilby’s “The Historical Jesus: Five Views” is good for getting a variety of views on the historical Jesus.

      Oh, and Vermès’ “The Resurrection” provides a good secular account of the resurrection debate.

      I’ve also included Carrier’s “On the Historicity of Jesus” for a radical view, and, on the other end of the spectrum, Bauckham and N.T. Wright provide a more conservative view.

      In addition to these, I also did 5 extended reviews, as another class project during my seminars last quarter, of the following books: Sander’s “The Historical Figure of Jesus,” Boyarin’s “A Radical Jew” and “The Jewish Gospels,” Beilby’s “The Historical Jesus: Five Views,” and Crossan’s “The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant.”

      I’ve posted my extended review of Boyarin’s “A Radical Jew” on this blog:

      I may post some of the other extended reviews, if I get the time to adapt them to the blog.

      • Thanks. I wish there was a way to do this for all topics. Find an expert for every topic who can provide a bibliography.

        • I’m working to make a number of other topical bibliographies on subjects that I study in my academic research. For example, I’ve also made one for prominent scholarly literature in historiography and historical theory over the last century. I need to make many more though on other subjects!

  4. JRM says:

    I’d like to add Maurice Casey’s “Jesus of Nazareth” especially ch. 12 “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” It’s an apologist ball-buster and would add some ammo to your already impressive arsenal.

  5. mansubzero says:

    Hello Mr Ferguson

    i quote:

    32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

    Not Peace, but a Sword
    34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
    and a daughter against her mother,
    and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
    36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
    37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.


    49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided:

    father against son
    and son against father,
    mother against daughter
    and daughter against mother,
    mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
    and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

    i have a few questions

    1. are these texts written in a time when christians are leaving their families for their cult?
    2. we read in the gospels that jesus told his followers to abandon their families.

    i quote avalos

    If you read the Gospels, you will find Jesus and the disciples often scavenging for food themselves.

    quote :

    Note Mark 3:31-35 (RSV):

    [31] And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him.
    [32] And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.”
    [33] And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”
    [34] And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
    [35] Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

    So, if his biological family came asking for help or money, he does not even want to hear it. At the very least, Jesus does not sound like someone who is concerned about their welfare or like someone who is going to bother sending fianancial help he does not have.


    [28] Peter began to say to him, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you.”
    [29] Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,
    [30] who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

    Is Peter really just speaking metaphorically? Is it really just temporary? Is there no adverse economic effect on the brothers, sisters, or father, that Jesus mentions?

    Abandoned families in ancient Galilee would probably be at even greater risk for impoverishment because they lived at a subsistence level or near subsistence level, and health care and other benefits were not what they are today.


    Nowhere does Myles address directly the question of what happens to any children, sisters, or mothers left behind by the disciples. This despite the fact, that Jesus himself says: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father orchildren or lands, for my sake and for the gospel” (Mark 10:29).


    Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go’. And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head’. Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father’. But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead’ (Mt. 8.18-22).

    then i read christians say this


    …that Jesus is talking to his followers about how following him will divide their families.

    end quote

    but we can see that jesus’ teachings is to abandon families and he says that he himself will cause division and how he wishes the fire was already kindled.

    in your opinion are christians changing jesus’ explicit statement about causing division?

    • Hey mansubzero,

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you!

      I know that NT scholars, such as Bart Ehrman, have argued that Jesus’ sayings about separating families probably have a kernel of historical truth, pertaining to his ministry. The reason why is that most NT scholars agree that Jesus was leading an end-times apocalyptic cult. A major feature of such a movement is that it demanded the complete loyalty of its followers. These loyalties even superseded those to families.

      It is not improbable to think that many of Jesus’ followers probably had strife with their families for following him. After all, they were following around an itinerant prophet preaching the impending end of the world. Not everyone would have agreed with such a message, and Jesus probably taught his followers, who were experiencing problems with their families, to leave them behind and follow him.

      However, the apocalyptic imagery of turning “father against son” had long existed in Mediterranean literature. For example, the Greek poet Hesiod wrote in the 8th-7th century BCE (long before Jesus) the following verses about the Iron Age of man (Works and Days, 180-194):

      Ζεὺς δ᾽ ὀλέσει καὶ τοῦτο γένος μερόπων ἀνθρώπων,
      εὖτ᾽ ἂν γεινόμενοι πολιοκρόταφοι τελέθωσιν.
      οὐδὲ πατὴρ παίδεσσιν ὁμοίιος οὐδέ τι παῖδες,
      οὐδὲ ξεῖνος ξεινοδόκῳ καὶ ἑταῖρος ἑταίρῳ,
      οὐδὲ κασίγνητος φίλος ἔσσεται, ὡς τὸ πάρος περ.

      “And Zeus will destroy this age of mortal men [the fifth race of iron], when they come to have grey hair even at birth. A father will not agree with his children, nor children with him, nor will guest agree with host, nor comrade with comrade, and brother will not be dear to brother, as before.”

      So the kinds of sayings that you are quoting above are hardly original to Christianity. Instead, they are common tropes of apocalyptic imagery that had been used in the region for some centuries before Jesus.

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