Church History Book Recommendation

I purchased a book on church history some time ago, Church History Vol. I: From Christ to Pre-Reformation, by Everett Ferguson, a Protestant scholar with a Ph.D. from Harvard. I am now looking for a scholarly work on church history written by a Roman Catholic; preferably one that is cost friendly.

I appreciate any and all suggestions.

[LIST]
*]Dr. Alan Schreck’s Compact History of the Catholic Church
*]Church History by Fr. John Laux
*]I have not read it but much respect the author, Dr. James Hitchcock recently wrote: History of the Catholic Church. You can hear an interview with Dr. Hitchcock regarding this book on the Kresta in the Afternoon radio show from Jan. 25, 2013. (click here for show archive)
[/LIST]

Thank you very much my friend. Ferguson’s book on church history is fairly well-written, although some of its passages struck me as a bit suspect. For example, although Ferguson concedes that the likelihood of Peter being in Rome and having been martyred there is strong, he says that to call Peter “[P]ope” or even “sole bishop” would be anachronistic. The reasons he gives to justify this view seem rather facile; Ferguson merely states that, although the Roman church was already a numerous and important community, the church in Ephesus was larger and more influential among Christians by the close of the First Century. I’m not sure how this is supposed to negate the position of Peter as Pope, and there is no mention of Matthew 16:18 or the copious historical manuscript evidence of Peter’s primacy among the apostles.

Later, Ferguson made some comments about Islam, a number of which were true, but a few of which seemed to be marinated in his subjective views of the religion’s practices and customs, an oddity for a supposedly scholarly work. Are such writings the norm among Protestant scholars, and is there a general consensus among Catholics about how to receive them?

Have you looked into Warren H. Carroll’s Christendom series? He had a PhD from Columbia since we’re mentioning degrees here.

I can’t say I’ve read any protestant historians, just watched debates with protestants about church history for chuckles. I imagine it must be hard to be committed to protestantism and study church history for a living. Cardinal Newman’s comments about the dissimilarities between protestantism and church history come to mind.

Thank you very much :)!

What was your favorite book? I would like a recommendation as well.

Several important one-volume histories of the Catholic Church by Catholics are:

  Philip Hughes. "Popular History of the Catholic Church." amazon.com says this costs $11. This stand-by has long been highly regarded by Catholics. Unfortunately, it goes up to but does not cover the 20th century.

  Crocker, H. W. "Triumph: the Power and Glory of the Catholic Church." amazon.com says this costs $14.06. This history of Catholicism has been much appreciated by Catholics (though I never got around to reading this book myself). It covers Catholic history up to Pope John Paul II.

 Protestant writers can write with high standards, but are hardly likely not to take a dim view of the Catholic Church when writing, for example, of the time of the Protestant "reformation" and to cover the Catholic reform of the time, or to cover the Catholicism of the early Church, which included bishops and sacramental worship.
 Generally when I evaluate a book, I go to amazon.com and go through readers' reactions to the book, which I generally find quite honest about what is good about the book and what is not good, and quite helpful

Thank you for your time and input on the book suggestions. I really appreciate it!!

Somebody suggested Phillip Hughes’ “Popular History of the Catholic Church.” I think you might appreciate his longer, three volume work on Church History better. It is very detailed, which I like, and it splices into the history some essays about controversial topics, such as the authority of the pope and the seemingly, but not actually, changing message of the Church regarding usury. It covers Church History up to, but not including, the Reformation.

A free version of the book in .txt format is available on EWTN: ewtn.com/library/CHISTORY/HUGHHIST.TXT

Another free option is “A General History of the Catholic Church” by Joseph E. Darras.

The book is excellent for so many reasons. One is, it has the personal written approval of Pope Pius IX.

One of my favorite things about it is how detailed the index is. He breaks down Church History by the reigns of each pope, and tells what happened in history during each pope’s reign.

It is in four volumes, so here is a link to each:

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

I hope that helps. God bless!

Yeah, if you know your apologetics, Rome was clearly in a primal position from the beginning. Even the Orthodox believe in a primacy of honor for the Roman bishop. And the Corinthians sought the counsel of Rome (as evidenced by Clement’s letter to the Corinthians) even though Ephesus was geographically closer and may well have had the Apostle John still living there.

I don’t really know what the norm is among Protestant scholars, but it sounds like personal conjecture is something that doesn’t belong in a strictly historical work.

Then why was it that Pope St. Clement I of Rome, and not the Bishop of Ephesus, that wrote to the Corinthians in 96 AD to either stop getting rid of priests they didn’t agree with or face excommunication? Ephesus was much closer to Corinth and yet it was Clement in Rome who told them to stop their foolishness.

Also. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote to both churches in 107 AD. The high regard early Christians held for the church in Rome is very evident in his letter to the Romans.

For a history of theology, Jaroslav Pelikan’s 5-book series is awesome. Though the last couple books tend to focus disproportionately on Protestantism, I thought.

(He’s a Lutheran who converted to Orthodox Christianity, btw)

How do you know the Bishop of Ephesus didn’t? Not all the stuff from the early church got preserved.

Granted. However…why would the bishop in Rome be writing to the church in Corinth if Ephesus, a much more influential church than Rome, is so close? And why would St. Ignatius write to Rome in 107 AD, saying that they hold “the presidency” if Ephesus was so much more influential?

By the way…want to know why Pope St. Clement I’s letter survives while a possible letter from Ephesus does not? Because early Christians revered St. Clement’s letter to the Corinthians so much, many believed it to be inspired scripture for hundreds of years. He was an Apostolic Father who was ordained a bishop by St. Peter himself.

Why wouldn’t he be writing to Corinth? I assume everybody kept in touch.

You read it? It’s a good letter. I’m guessing that Paul wrote a bunch of other stuff, that people didn’t preserve.

[quote=Ignatius’ Letter to Rome]Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her that hath found mercy in the bountifulness of the Father Most High and of Jesus Christ His only Son; to the church that is beloved and enlightened through the will of Him who willed all things that are, by faith and love towards Jesus Christ our God; even unto her that hath the presidency in the country of the region of the Romans, being worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of felicitation, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy in purity, and having the presidency of love, walking in the law of Christ and bearing the
Father’s name; which church also I salute in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of the Father
[/quote]

The universal presidency? I think not.

Why would they need to keep in touch, pray tell?

You read it? It’s a good letter. I’m guessing that Paul wrote a bunch of other stuff, that people didn’t preserve.

It is a good letter. No denying that. But so are St. Ignatius’s letters to these seven churches/people - yet none of them were ever thought to be inspired scripture, despite the fact that St. Ignatius - like Pope St. Clement I - was ordained a priest by St. Peter himself. Not only that, St. Ignatius was also a disciple of John the Apostle. These epistles, written within ten years of each other, preserved by the Church, and yet only one of them was seriously thought to have been divinely inspired. Is it a coincidence that the epistle from the bishop in Rome, and not the bishop in Antioch, was thought to be inspired? You decide.

The universal presidency? I think not.

I think it’s quite obvious how Ignatius holds the Roman Church compared to the other churches he wrote to:

Letter to the Ephesians:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fullness of God the Father, and predestinated before the beginning[1] of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory, being united[2] and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace.

Letter to the Magnesians:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the [Church] blessed in the grace of God the Father, in Jesus Christ our Saviour, in whom I salute the Church which is at Magnesia, near the Moeander, and wish it abundance of happiness in God the father, and in Jesus Christ.

Letter to the Trallians:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the holy Church which is at Tralles, in Asia, beloved of God, the Father of Jesus Christ, elect, and worthy of God, possessing peace through the flesh, and blood, and passion of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, through our rising again to Him,[1] which also I salute in its fulness,[2] and in the apostalical character,[3] and wish abundance of happiness.

Letter to the Philadelphians:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, which is at Philadelphia, in Asia, which has obtained mercy, and is established in the harmony of God, and rejoiceth unceasingly(1) in the passion of our Lord, and is filled with all mercy through his resurrection; which I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, who is our eternal and enduring joy, especially if [men] are in unity with the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons, who have been appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ, whom He has established in security, after His own will, and by His Holy Spirit.

Letter to the Smyrnaeans:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and of the beloved Jesus Christ, which has through mercy obtained every kind of gift, which is filled with faith and love, and is deficient in no gift, most worthy of God, and adorned with holiness: the Church which is at Smyrna, in Asia, wishes abundance of happiness, through the immaculate Spirit and word of God.

Letter to St. Polycarp

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to Polycarp, Bishop of the Church of the Smyrnæans, or rather, who has, as his own bishop, God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: [wishes] abundance of happiness.

Letter to the Romans:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Mast High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is beloved and enlightened by the will of Him that willeth all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our God, which also presides in the place of the report of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy,(2) and which presides over love, is named from Christ, and from the Father, which I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the San of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments; who are filled inseparably with the grace of God, and are purified from every strange taint, * abundance of happiness unblameably, in Jesus Christ our God.*

You can tell by the introductions to these seven letters that St. Ignatius holds the Church in Rome in much higher esteem. Its the only letter in which he uses the word “presidency” and he uses the word twice. Once to describe how the church has the presidency in the country of the Romans and a second time to describe its presidency over love.

Also…to add on to my post above, we have St. Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons, who wrote in the mid/late 2nd century. St. Irenaeus had been a personal disciple of St. Polycarp, the very same man who St. Ignatius was writing to in the quoted text in my previous post. St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius had been the personal disciples of St. John the Apostle. So everything they believed and knew about Christ and his Church on earth came from St. John himself. St. Polycarp no doubt taught St. Irenaeus everything he knew. This is why, in 189 AD, St. Irenaeus wrote the following in his famous tome, Against Heresies:

“Since, however, it would be very tedious ... to reckon up the successions of all the churches, we put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vanity, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings, by indicating that Tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every church agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, because the apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere ”

Excerpt From: Jimmy Akin. “The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church.” iBooks. itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=9D46E6A9E3F6B7453A4BB714C0FC7677

St. Irenaeus, a second generation Christian, unequivocally states that the Church was founded in Rome and that all who go against that Church’s teachings are heretics.

The Shepherd of Hermas was also often included in Scriptural canons. Are we to conclude he was the Universal Bishop, too?

Rome was obviously a very important church. I don’t think anyone doubts that. Plus, have you read Ignatius’ letters? Not likely to be included as canon.

He specifically said “presidency in the country of the Romans”. If I say “President of the United States”, that implies he is not “President of France”.
[/quote]

The Shepherd of Hermas was also often included in Scriptural canons. Are we to conclude he was the Universal Bishop, too?

But Hermas was never read aloud at mass. Clement, however, was. As a matter of fact, Pope St. Clement I’s epistle to the Corinthians was being read aloud at mass as late as the early-5th century. The Shepherd of Hermas, while considered canon to some Christians, was never deemed worthy enough to be read aloud at mass.

Rome was obviously a very important church. I don’t think anyone doubts that. Plus, have you read Ignatius’ letters? Not likely to be included as canon.

St. Irenaeues tells us in the 2nd century that Rome wasn’t just a “very important church.” It was THE church:

“For it is a matter of necessity that every church agree with this church [the Roman church], on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, in so far as the apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere [Against Heresies 3:3:2 (c. A.D. 189)].”

Excerpt From: Jimmy Akin. “The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church.” iBooks. itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=9D46E6A9E3F6B7453A4BB714C0FC7677

St. Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was good friends with St. Ignatius of Antioch. St. Ignatius addressed one of his seven letters personally to St. Polycarp. Both men had been disciples of the Apostle St. John. So St. Irenaeus learned everything he knew from a man who had been taught by St. John himself. And this was his opinion on the church in Rome. Very telling.

He specifically said “presidency in the country of the Romans”. If I say “President of the United States”, that implies he is not “President of France”.

“The country of the Romans” = the Roman Empire my friend. The Romans ruled the known world in 107 AD. Why doesn’t he say to the Ephesians that they hold presidency in that region? The same thing goes with his letter to the Philadelphians? He only ever uses the word “presidency” in his letter to the Romans. And his friend St. Polycarp obviously taught St. Irenaeus that the Roman church holds presidency over all of Christendom because that is exactly what St. Irenaeus states in the quoted text above.

Yes it was. You realize that different churches had widely varying liturgies, correct? A few read Clement, most did not. A few read the Shepherd of Hermas, most did not.

He is very fall from the full Roman Catholic teaching on things like infallibility, the “universal bishop”, et cetera. And I don’t see where his theology is inconsistent with Orthodox theology.

In Orthodoxy, they recognized the Bishop of Rome as the Ecumenical Patriarch, until he demanded they teach the Filioque (and other stuff) and excommunicated them for disobedience. Interestingly enough, modern Rome does not concern itself with the Filioque, and does not even require Byzantine Catholics to say it. Must have been more important in 1054.

Firstly, no it didn’t. Rome was fighting wars against other Empires. Secondly, I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing “the country of the Romans” meant Italy, or something similar. Rome ruled a network of nations.

Not inconsistent with Orthodox theology.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primus_inter_pares#Eastern_Orthodox_Church

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