Church history, christian apologetics, Bible study


#1

I’d like to have a solid knowledge of Church history, christian apologetics and some advise on how to study the Bible. I’ve been trying to make a selection of what books to buy e.g. on amazon.com but the amount of books is never-ending and it’s not easy to make the right decision. Any suggestions?


#2

[quote=adriano]I’d like to have a solid knowledge of Church history, christian apologetics and some advise on how to study the Bible. I’ve been trying to make a selection of what books to buy e.g. on amazon.com but the amount of books is never-ending and it’s not easy to make the right decision. Any suggestions?
[/quote]

I have tons of suggestions, including visiting my website below, but it would be helpful to know: What have you read so far?

With the presumption you’re just getting started, for preliminary choices I would say:

History: Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church, by Crocker

Apologetics: Catholicism and Fundamentalism, by Karl Keating

Bible: A Guide To The Bible, by Antonio Fuentes


#3

[quote=adriano]I’d like to have a solid knowledge of Church history, christian apologetics and some advise on how to study the Bible. I’ve been trying to make a selection of what books to buy e.g. on amazon.com but the amount of books is never-ending and it’s not easy to make the right decision. Any suggestions?
[/quote]

Crocker is, in my opinion, a load of crock. He does not give a reasoned or balanced picture of history at all, and he frequently distorts the truth (though in rhetorically clever ways–I’m not saying that he lies or that he means to distort).

Unfortunately, good general books on church history are hard to find. The best books usually focus on one period or one figure, because it’s hard to write a good, brief book that covers the whole story.

A few specific books I’d recommend (all by Catholics):

The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, by Robert Louis Wilken

Knowing the Love of Christ (on Thomas Aquinas), by Matthew Levering and Michael Dauphinais.

The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, by Etienne Gilson (or
anything else by him, though much of his work is quite difficult)

The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, by Louis Bouyer

Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, by John
Henry Newman

Anything by Cardinal Avery Dulles

Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Introduction to Christianity (or anything else by him, of course!)

Edwin


#4

Make sure the books your buying are pro-Catholic. Be wary of non-catholic sites. I always buy from Catholic Answers, Catholic Exhange, Aquinas and More etc. Besides I prefer to support them.


#5

For Bible study, I would recommend Jeff Cavis’ series “The Geat Adventure Bible Timeline” course. It’s available on tapes, CDs, and DVDs, and gives a broad overview on understanding the whole Bible. His study on Matthew is excellent (I attended his course last year, and I suppose they’re available on CDs, etc.)

With Fidelis, I like Crocker’s “Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church”. Contarini doesn’t like it, but then Contarini is an Episcopalian. Is it somewhat triumphalistic? Maybe, but then it’s focusing on what the title says it does, the “power and glory”.

If you’re new to apologetics, there’s a series called “Beginning Apologetics” by Jim Burnham (and others). They’re a series of inexpensive booklets (about $5) that cover different topics, for example, “Beginning Apologetics 3” is subtitled “How to Explain and Defend the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist”; #4 deals with atheists and New Agers; #2 deals with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so on.

I would also second Fidelis’ recommendation of Karl Keating’s “Catholicism and Fundamentalism”.

Contarini’s suggestions are fine, but they’re not what I would suggest for someone who is just starting out in the areas you mention.


#6

Yes, I know that I pitched him in at the deep end a bit. But I think people nowadays short-change themselves way too often. Dauphinais and Levering are not hard to understand, for one thing. Gilson and Newman are another matter . . . .

Edwin


#7

[quote=Contarini]Yes, I know that I pitched him in at the deep end a bit. But I think people nowadays short-change themselves way too often. Dauphinais and Levering are not hard to understand, for one thing. Gilson and Newman are another matter . . . .

Edwin
[/quote]

You’re right about people short-changing themselves by not challenging their minds. The books you recommended certainly would help in that regard. But for basic nuts-and-bolts stuff, the “Basic Apologetics” can get a person’s toes wet. Hopefully, the water will be so fine that they will not be frightened of diving into the deep end.


#8

Exactly. I gave my list to supplement what I knew other people would be recommending.

Besides, I’m not a Catholic, and I’m not a big fan of a lot of the “Catholic apologetics” stuff out there. So I couldn’t in good conscience recommend much of it.

Although I will recommend Mark Shea’s Making Senses out of Scripture. I have some issues with the way he defines things (he’s fuzzy at times on just what counts as a spiritual/allegorical reading), but it’s an excellent introduction. Then you can go on and read Henri de Lubac’s Medieval Exegesis, if you want something really deep and thorough . . . . .!

And I like a lot of what Scott Hahn is doing, though I find him a bit too glib in his tone and I can’t stand his cutesy titles. What I most respect about him is the way he’s taking a lot of traditional Protestant doctrines and emphases and reintegrating them into Catholicism (much along the lines that Louis Bouyer was doing in _Spirit and Forms of Protestantism). I heard him on EWTN last night talking about his new book on the sacraments. I never thought I’d hear a Catholic appropriation of Zwingli’s sacramental theology–but he did it!

Edwin


#9

P.S.

I can’t avoid sounding somewhat snobbish on these boards. I am a grad student, after all. I’m committed to writing for a general audience, but I’m still learning to overcome the bad habits of academic jargon (fortunately my advisor is a model of good prose). It’s part of my calling to go around picking at inaccuracies in non-scholarly books on religious and historical subjects. It may make me disliked, but someone needs to do it. And I try to do it as nicely as possible (not that I always succeed in that . . . )

One of these days I’ll write a book of my own and then everyone can pick holes in it! Meanwhile the dissertation defense is on Oct. 17th. At last!


#10

[quote=Contarini]P.S.

I can’t avoid sounding somewhat snobbish on these boards. I am a grad student, after all. I’m committed to writing for a general audience, but I’m still learning to overcome the bad habits of academic jargon (fortunately my advisor is a model of good prose). It’s part of my calling to go around picking at inaccuracies in non-scholarly books on religious and historical subjects. It may make me disliked, but someone needs to do it. And I try to do it as nicely as possible (not that I always succeed in that . . . )

One of these days I’ll write a book of my own and then everyone can pick holes in it! Meanwhile the dissertation defense is on Oct. 17th. At last!
[/quote]

I always enjoy reading your posts (even if we don’t always agree). What is your dissertation on?

BTW my sponsor while entering the Church was Dr. David G. Hunter. He was a student Wilken and used one of his books for class I had with him at Iowa State University. I’ve read Wilken’s stuff and I can say it is a great read.

Peace


#11

David Hunter? I think I copyedited an article by him when I was working for the journal Church History. I didn’t know he was Catholic, although I’m not surprised.

My advisor nearly moved to UVA, and I looked forward to working with Wilken, but in the end he (my advisor) decided to stay at Duke so I did too.

I’m writing about Martin Bucer (one of the Protestant Reformers) and his interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. Essentially I’m trying to describe how he understands the Law of God as a guide for the Christian life, and how this relates to different issues like salvation, civil society, liturgy, etc.

Edwin


#12

[quote=Contarini]David Hunter? I think I copyedited an article by him when I was working for the journal Church History. I didn’t know he was Catholic, although I’m not surprised.

My advisor nearly moved to UVA, and I looked forward to working with Wilken, but in the end he (my advisor) decided to stay at Duke so I did too.

I’m writing about Martin Bucer (one of the Protestant Reformers) and his interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. Essentially I’m trying to describe how he understands the Law of God as a guide for the Christian life, and how this relates to different issues like salvation, civil society, liturgy, etc.

Edwin
[/quote]

Did he come off as not Catholic? He is soft spoken and not very vocal about his faith in scholarly circles. But he is Catholic. He also told me that Wilken is a convert to Catholicism, I think from Lutheranism.

Here is a link to what Hunter has done. Maybe he is the same person you copyedited for. BTW what did you copyedit?

public.iastate.edu/~dhunter/HunterCV.htm

That is an interesting topic. Maybe I can get a copy and read it. I love reading theology. I am pursuing a career in history, but theology will always be my first love.

Peace


#13

[quote=Contarini]. Dauphinais and Levering are not hard to understand, for one thing. Gilson and Newman are another matter . . . .

Yes you’re right, Gilson wrote books which are read in catholic colleges especially to study the philosophy of the middle ages. Newman is not easy too. I’d like to know, If you read Newman and since you are an episcopalian how come you haven’t become a catholic. As you know, Newmann left the Church of England for the Catholic Church. I’m really interested to know your position regarding the two churches. Do you think that authority is a big problem in the Episcopal Church(Church of England) compared to the RCC? The RCC is found on Peter but the Episcoal Church is the product of a king Henry VIII who broke away from Rome because he didn’t care that much about religious authority, truth and history. He wanted a divorce and a son he couldn’t have from his wife.
[/quote]


#14

I’m not looking for some brief introductions on these subjects. I’m looking for serious and in depth books. I want to be knowledgeable because there are so many christian denominations and so called christians like the mormons or the Jw’s and they all pretend to know the truth. I need to gain as much knowlegde as possible to know and defend the truth. I’m talking about discovering the TRUTH and what I need to read to have a solid knowledge. Let’s start with the Bible: how many versions should I have and which ones? Which books on Church history? Which books on apologetics. I’ve got the CCC and The Early Church Fathers library.


#15

[quote=adriano]I’m not looking for some brief introductions on these subjects. I’m looking for serious and in depth books. I want to be knowledgeable because there are so many christian denominations and so called christians like the mormons or the Jw’s and they all pretend to know the truth. I need to gain as much knowlegde as possible to know and defend the truth. I’m talking about discovering the TRUTH and what I need to read to have a solid knowledge. Let’s start with the Bible: how many versions should I have and which ones? Which books on Church history? Which books on apologetics. I’ve got the CCC and The Early Church Fathers library.
[/quote]

OK, I misunderstood your level of interest. However, I would still recommend Jeff Cavins’ Bible Timeline course, as it gives a good overview. I recommend the RSV-Catholic Edition Bible (NOT the “NRSV”!); others like the Douey Rheims—wouldn’t hurt to have both.

Newman’s “An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine” is excellent, as is his “Apologia Pro Vita Sua”. I also like “Theology of the Church” by Cardinal Journet. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” and “The Everlasting Man” are must-reads. And Keating’s “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” stays on my list.

For history: Stephen Ray’s “Upon This Rock” is a good exposition on the papacy in the Early Church; I like Thomas Madden when it comes to the Crusades; hmmm, nothing else comes to mind right now that is specifically historical in nature…


#16

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