Paul L. Maier (b. 1930) is a Lutheran scholar on the history of Christianity. He is Emeritus Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University, where he taught for 53 years (1958–2011). I highly recommend his work. Here are some of his more accessible works.
8 Books on the History of Early Christianity
Pontius Pilate: A Novel. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2014. This “documentary novel” depicts the New Testament world in a relatively entertaining way. Reading this genre engages a different part of your brain and encourages you to envision the world of the New Testament more vividly. It makes you think and feel in ways that are virtually impossible by reading only encyclopedia-type summaries of the New Testament’s historical-cultural context. This book is so valuable that I require students to read it for a graduate course I teach called “New Testament Background and Message.” Maier writes from Pontius Pilate’s vantage point, starting with Pilate’s political life in Rome and appointment as prefect in Judea (AD 26) and continuing through the murder of Jesus (which Maier calculates as 33), the death of Tiberius (37), the assassination of Caligula (41), and the beginning of the reign of Claudius (41–54). The overall plot and every proper name in the book is historically accurate, and Maier fills in this factual skeleton with colorful fictional details. He reconstructs many events from the Gospels and Acts from the viewpoint of an educated, unbelieving Roman prefect. [Read more…] about 15 Accessible Books by Historian Paul Maier