I couldn’t think of a brief, yet accurate, title for this request. What I’m asking for is any recommendations of scholarly attempts to describe the major religions of the world in a broader historical context. (I’m going to start with the sources from the Who Wrote the Bible article, I think.)
For instance, are there books or articles that try to describe the origins of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or, for that matter, any other -Isms I’ve left out in terms of their actual historical situation? More specifically, I know that non-canonical Jewish demonology is sometimes related to Zoroastrianism. I would like to see a non-crackpot analysis of the relationship between the two. Or, perhaps an objective look at the “histories” of the Old Testament. Please don’t limit recommendations to these specific subjects; I’m trying to broaden my horizons a bit.
DISCLAIMER: This ain’t for school or work. I’m not trying to get others to do any legwork for me. I just don’t quite know where to begin looking for quality material that would satisfy my nebulous curiosity. Also, I’m not specifically looking for anything that’s necessarily debunking the Bible or Koran, etc., but hopefully looking at them with a broader historical and social view. I’m not saying I won’t look at such material, though, if someone says it’s definitely worthwhile.
I’m afraid I’ve rambled a bit; I hope this all makes sense. I’ll try to clarify what I mean if I need to. Thanks, kids.