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Recommended Religious Classics

When Bad Things Happen to Good People
By Harold S. Kushner

The ''Da Vinci Code" of its day, Kushner's bestseller offers lessons on coping with life's tragedies (Anchor, paperback, $9.95).

The Gnostic Gospels
By Elaine Pagels

A pioneering, award-winning study of early Christian writings that didn't make the cut for inclusion in the Bible (Vintage, paperback, $12).

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
By Karen Armstrong

An academic and former nun's comparative history of various faiths' notions about God (Ballantine, paperback, $15.95).

Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals
By John A. Buehrens

An admittedly progressive but layperson-friendly introduction from the liberal ex-president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (Beacon, paperback, $14).

Gospel Truth
By Russell Shorto

Written by a journalist, this overview sums up the state of research into, and divergent opinions about, the real-life Jesus (Riverhead, paperback, $14).

Compiled by Rich Barlow.

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