Anything by Ramsay MacMullen (though I think he has some anti-Christian bias), Peter Brown (Anglican I think), or Robert Louis Wilken (a convert from Lutheranism to Catholicism) is good, for starters. Henry Chadwick’s The Early Church and J.N.D. Kelly’s *Early Christian Doctrines *are standard sources (both by Anglicans). So is the first volume of Jaroslav Pelikan’s *The Christian Tradition *(Lutheran, later converted to Orthodoxy). Anything by Jean Danielou (Catholic–one of the theological experts at Vatican II in fact) is also good (he and another great Catholic historian, Henri Marrou, co-wrote a history of early Christianity called The First Six Hundred Years).
The early Protestant Reformation from either a Catholic interpretation or a neutral and unbiased interpretation.
Let me know if you have any suggestions, thanks!
There’s really no such thing as a “neutral and unbiased interpretation.” I think Diarmaid MacCulloch’s recent The Protestant Reformation is a good overview, but I know some Catholics find it annoying (MacCulloch is an ex-Anglican who no longer professes Christianity). Daniel-Rops (an excellent writer but not a professional historian) wrote a history of the Reformation era (and other works on church history) from a Catholic perspective. Kilian McDonnell and Alexandre Ganoczy are two Catholics who have written good books on Calvin. Brad Gregory’s *Salvation at Stake *is the best book I know on persecution and martyrdom in the Reformation era (Gregory is a Catholic, but it’s hard to tell his confessional allegiance from the book).
“The Spirit of Early Christian Thought” by Robert Louis Wilken is excellent. Not only does it nicely summaraize many of the most important topics of conversation for the early Christian Fathers, it also helps give you a sense of the cultural backdrop of the time in which they wrote. Highly Recommended.
Another book I have heard good things about but have not yet got around to reading is Eusebius’ “Church History” book. It gives a history of the Church from the beginning through the time of Constantine (because that’s when he wrote it). The complete text of the book is actually available online at newadvent.org/fathers/2501.htm.
Sorry, can’t help you with this one. I am interested to hear what others might have to say, though!