Note: I own and have read, some more than once, each book on this list. Some of them quite awhile ago. I do not have a great memory for detail and I make no pretense to scholarship. All I can say is that I consider each book on the list to have been well worth the reading. Dave
1. The Christ, by John E. Remsberg. 1846/1919. Prometheus, 1994: Don’t let the age of this book deter you. While some data may be out of date the book is very concise and well organized.
2. The Unriddling of Christian Origins, A Secular Account. Joel Carmichael. Prometheus, 1995.
3. The Gospel and the Church. Alfred Firmin Loisy. A real classic. Loisy was a Catholic priest. This book was placed on the index. Loisy was removed from his teaching post and later, ex-communicated. Prometheus, 1988.
4.Classics of Free Thought. Edited by Paul Blanshard. Short essays or letters by 36 different writers from Voltaire to J.F. Kennedy. With 10 minutes at your disposal you can read one entry. Includes Percy Shelleys “The Necessity of Atheism”. This essay got him kicked out of Oxford and driven to the continent where he drowned in the Mediterranean at a very early age. Prometheus, 1977.
5.Hitler’s Pope, by John Cornwell. The title says it all. Controversial but a lot of historical research went into it. Viking/Penguin, 1999.
6.Why I am not a Christian. Bertrand Russell. Collection of essays. Russell was a brilliant man who had the talent to talk to ordinary people without talking down to them. Simon and Schuster, 1957.
7.A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christiandom, Andrew D. White. White was the first president of Cornell University and a world renowned scholar. This book is a hundred years old but it reads like yesterday. Prometheus, 1993.
8.The Complete Works of Josephus. William Whiston Translation/Foreword by Wm. S. LaSor. Ask a Christian for contemporary evidence for the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth and they will pop right up with Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny the younger, none of whom lived in the alleged time of Jesus. Josephus comes the closest having been born in 37 C.E. Kregel, 1995.
9. Holy Bible. Anonymous.
10.Why I am Not A Muslim, Ibn Warraq. You all know of this one I’m sure. Warraq, like Rushdie has a price on his head. Prometheus, 1995.
11.The Origins of the Koran, Ibn Warraq. Prometheus, 1998.
12.Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? Norman Golb. Golbs ideas have sparked a lot of controversy. Very interesting read. Scribner, 1995.
13.James the Brother of Jesus. The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Robert Eisenman. Big book, much controversy, heavy going but worth the effort. Viking, 1998.
14.A Rebel to His Last Breath, Bill Cooke. Biography of Joseph McCabe, a Catholic priest who saw the light and became a prolific writer for Free Thought. Prometheus, 2001.
15.Agnosticism and Christianity, Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s bulldog. Another great thinker who was at ease talking to working men and women. Letters and essays on evolution. Prometheus, 1992.
16.On Christianity, Edward Gibbon. Small book, good read. Prometheus, 1991.
17.Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen. Everything your American History textbook got wrong. The New Press, 1995.
18.Champion of Liberty, Charles Bradlaugh. Edited by J.P. Gilmour. Writings and speeches of England’s most famous Atheist. Born in 1833, same year as Ingersoll. Elected to Parliament 5 times but denied his seat by the yahoos who filled the benches there til the very last. Continuously harried and prosecuted he died at 57. My copy is a Centenary edition published in London in 1933. Modern paperback is available. Ayer, 1972.
19.The Age of Reason. Thomas Paine. Prometheus, 1984.
20.Challenging the Verdict, Earl Doherty. A cross-examination of Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”. And you might as well read that first. Age of Reason Publications, 2001.
21.Treatise on the Gods, H.L. Mencken. This was the first real polemic against religion that I ever read. I discovered it in the public library in about 1947. It isn’t there now. Paperback available. Johns Hopkins University Press.
22.Is It God’s Word? Joseph Wheless. I first ran across reference to this book in Mencken’s Treatise on the Gods. It took me 45 years to find a copy. It was worth the wait. Now readily available in a large paperback edition. Kessinger, 1992.
23.Forgery in Christianity, Joseph Wheless. Fascinating exposure of the fraudulent beginnings of Christianity. Kessinger.
23.Don’t Call Me Brother, Austin Miles. The low down on Jimmy, Tammy etc. By an insider. Prometheus.
24.Origins:The Emergence and Evolution of Our species and its Possible Future, Richard E. Leakey and Roger Lewin. E.P. Dutton Inc. 1977.
25.The Old Faith & The New, David Friedrich Strauss. 1808/1874. Translated by Mathilde Blind. A great book published with all too familiar results. A brilliant thinker and researcher hounded from his university positions for his ideas. He came out on top though. He made more money from the sales of his books than he ever would have made as a professor. 2 volumes in 1. Prometheus, 1997.
26.Fart Proudly, writings of Benjamin Franklin that you certainly were never taught in school. Edited by Carl Japikse. Contains an afterword by the editor. It takes the form of a dream in which he enters Heaven and is met by Old Ben himself. On page 120 he puts words into the mouth of Ben that I doubt Šhold on, if Ben’s in Heaven, maybe, Oh Shit, read it yourself. But I mean to write to Japiske and ask him to expand on his statements.
27.Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, Uta Ranke-Heinemann. Harper Collins. The author of this book and also the following entry is a person so complex that I am at a loss for words. She studied Theology with Rudolph Bultmann, was a brilliant student. In this book and the following, she takes the Roman Catholic church apart and doesn’t put it back together. And yet, at the age of 48 I think, she becomes a convert to Catholicism. I am bereft of further thought on the subject. You figure it out and tell me, okay? See below.
28.Putting Away Childish Things, Uta Ranke-Heinmann. See above.
29.The Damnation of Theron Ware, Harold Frederic. Prometheus. Ready for something just a little lighter? This is a novel. It concerns a newly graduated young preacher and his wife with hopes to be assigned to a pleasant position but are assigned to the most dismal parish in the system.
Note: Since I have strayed into the realm of fiction I will suggest a few more that I have enjoyed.
30.The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton. Classic, many publishers over the years. Chesterton is another who converted to Catholicism at an age when he should have known better. Around 50 I think. I have no idea what message this book was meant to transmit, if any. It is a small book, quick read. I think I have read it at least 3 times.
31.The Flight of Peter Fromm, Martin Gardner, One of my all time favorite authors. William Kaufmann Inc. Semi-autobiographical. No comment, read it yourself.
32.The Ecstasy of Owen Muir, Ring Lardner, Jr. Prometheus.
Note:End of fiction.
33.Here I Stand, Roland H. Bainton. Biography of Martin Luther. Abingdon-Cokesbury Press. My copy is pretty old and probably out of print but I’m sure there are newer editions available. I think it is pretty accurate historically but treats Luther with more kindness than he deserves.
34.The Historical Evidence for Jesus, G.A. Wells. Prometheus, 1988.
35.The Jesus Legend, G.A. Wells. Open Court, 1996.
36.The Jesus Myth, G.A. Wells. Open Court, 1998. There is some redundancy in these three volumes but nevertheless, they are well worth reading.
37.Belief and Make-Believe(Critical Reflections on the Source of Credulity). Open Court, 1991. Different than the previous three. Tougher going, more philosophical in nature.
38.Gospel Fictions, Randel Helms.Prometheus, 1988.
39.Who Wrote the New Testament? (The Making of the Christian Myth) Burton L. Mack. Harper, 1995. This is very good and much quoted and referred to by other writers in recent years.
40.The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross(Fertility Cults and the Origins of Christianity and Judaism). John Allegro. Doubleday & Company Inc. I think this book did a lot of damage to Allegro’s reputation. I had a hard time finding it and paid a pretty high price for a used H.C. Basically, everything is a phallic symbol or a code for the mushroom.
41.Chapter and Verse (A Skeptic Revisits Christianity). Mike Bryan. Random House 1991. I found this in a temporary store that was disposing of remainders. I think I paid 50 cents for it. What a buy. It helps m7:22 PM 7/18/2007ake up for what I paid for the Sacred Mushroom. The author, a lapsed Protestant, enrolls at Criswell College, an Evangelical Bible school in Dallas with full intention to write a book on the experience and also with the full knowledge of the President and faculty. Very good book.
42.Great Infidels, Thomas S. Vernon, M & M Press, 1989. Biographical sketches of thirty free thinkers from Lucretius to Margaret Sanger. Another good book to fill short stretches of free time. Top drawer.
43.The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read. Edited by Tim C. Leedom, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. Another anthology of well known writers. Some redundancy of course but well worth reading.
44.Summer For the Gods, (The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion). Edward J. Larson. BasicBooks, 1997. I think this is the newest book on the Scopes trial. Very good.
45.The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents. (From Washington to FDR). Franklin Steiner, Prometheus, 1995. Interesting and a good reference volume. I wish someone would bring it up to date since Steiner is no longer living.
Note: I’ll finish off this list of 50 with 5 works of Christian apologetics that I have read recently
46.Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis, MacMillan, 1952. Some one gave me this book years ago. I tried to read it several times but couldn’t force myself through it. A few months ago I made up my mind that I was going to read it and I did. It’s a real bore, but since I insist on engaging Christians in debate I feel it’s a good idea to be familiar with their material.
47.Know Why You Believe, Paul Little. Intervarsity Press, 1968. This is another one mailed to me anonymously. It is pretty well known among the Christian clergy. It isn’t quite as boring as Mere Christianity.
48.The Case For Christ, Lee Strobel, Zondervan 1998. Can any good come out of Grand Rapids? I’m sure most of you know of this book and have probably read it. Strobel makes a pretense of being a hard nosed interviewer but in reality he rounded up 13 well known fundamentalists who he knew in advance would tell him exactly what he wanted to hear. Still, it’s worth reading and a good reference volume.
Note:The last 2 books I read as my part of an exchange with a Lutheran minister with whom I have become acquainted. In return he read The Christ and Losing Faith in Faith.
49.In The Fullness of Time, Paul L. Maier, Kregel 1991. Maier is Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University. He likes to make sweeping statements for which he offers no documentation. For instance, P.89, “Jesus could read and write both Aramaic and Hebrew and he undoubtedly knew common Greek as well”. By gosh, I never knew that. For all that it’s an interesting book to read.
50.Scaling the Secular City, J.P.Moreland, Baker, 1987. Moreland is the final interviewee in Strobel’s book. He uses more complicated phrases and more obscure words than Maier but it’s the same unfalsifiable theology underneath.