Best Book for Info on The Early Church?


Pax Vobiscum,

I recently purchased The Penguin History of the Church I: The Early Church by Henry Chadwick.

Would anyone recommend this book or is there a book which is better for studying the Apostolic Age of the Church up till the dividing of the ways between the Greek East and the Latin West?

Thank you.

Gratia et Pax.


Some here may criticize Chadwick because he’s Anglican (a moderately liberal Anglo-Catholic), but I obviously won’t!

Other good introductions would include:
J.N.D. Kelly, *Early Christian Doctrines *(also Anglican);
Robert Wilken *The Spirit of Early Christianity *(Catholic; ex-Lutheran);
Jaroslav Pelikan, *The Christian Tradition, *vol. 1 (Lutheran; later Orthodox); and
Jean Danielou and Henri Marrou, The First Six Centuries (Catholic; Danielou was a cardinal who played an important role at Vatican II)

Peter Brown and W.H.C. Frend are also good historians of the early Church (I believe they are/were both Anglican, but I’m not sure how devout or orthodox they are). Ramsay MacMullen’s The Christianization of the Roman Empire is a good study of the growth of early Christianity–MacMullen seems to be writing from a secular point of view with a certain bias against Christianity.



When you say ‘moderately liberal’ what do you mean?


I don’t know details of his views, but my advisor spoke of him as being in the general “Liberal Catholic” camp of people like Charles Gore. Historically that basically meant the kinds of ideas about the Bible and Christology that conservative Catholics criticize in scholars such as Raymond Brown, and a view of doctrinal development that respected tradition but was open to more change and development than orthodox ('Roman") Catholics would be comfortable with. I say “moderately” because I don’t think he would have questioned the basic creedal affirmations of the Faith. However, I don’t know much about his views–I was generalizing on the basis of vague statements of my doctoral advisor, who is well informed about such matters.

I wish now I had not used the phrase! I did so because I wanted to note that he was Anglo-Catholic (i.e., that he would have considered his perspective to be Catholic), but that he would be coming from a more liberal perspective than most people on this board. It clearly caused more confusion than it removed, however!

One note–I checked the Wikipedia article on him and it says that he was very active in ARCIC–the Anglican-Catholic dialogue. He said that ecumenism was “a good cause to die in,” and I second that sentiment entirely!



Pax Vobiscum,

Thank you very much for clarifying. You are a very fine individual to have on the forum! :thumbsup:

God Bless.


The “Christendom” series, by W. H. Carroll

“The Faith of the Early Fathers”
(( Get all 3 books, vol 1-3,… GREAT subject index ))

Mahalo ke Akua…!
E pili mau na pomaikai iaoe. Aloha nui.


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