church history

Hi. The main reason I ended up on these forums is because ive been doing a Bible study with the women’s group at my church on James. I was very surprised to find that James was almost cut from the Protestant Bible. My summer reading project is now to read the excluded books. I want to find out if the baby got thrown out with the bath water.

I’m very curious about church history now and want to know when and why certain beliefs got booted. Please regimens me some good resources on this subject.

What time period are you interested in.

May I suggest the Didache? It’s from around 95-105AD and describes how “church” was conducted by first generation Christians. (Link to the Didache text online.)

Keep in mind, one of the original reasons for the selecting the bible canon was to have a standard set of writings to read during the Mass.

Due to the circulation of other writings, there was no set standard on what to use…different bishops had different lists…that is why in AD382, Pope Damasus came up with a canon.

*V. The remaining writings which have been compiled or been recognised by heretics or schismatics the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church does not in any way receive; of these we have thought it right to cite below a few which have been handed down and which are to be avoided by catholics:


My recommendation for you to read…of some of these excluded writings…

Epistle of Clement of Rome to Corinth-about AD 90 or so…this was considered Scripture in Corinth and was read during the Liturgy for decades.

Shepherd of Hermas

Letter of Barnabas

Protoevangelum of James…the infancy gospel on the early life of Mary.

The Protestant Bible contains all the NT books. It is just 7 of the OT books that they excluded.

I think the OP was thinking of the actions of Luther…in that he did not like James…and was almost removed from the NT by Luther.

The letters of Ignatius of Antioch, who was ordained by the apostle Paul would be good reading. Also, Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John.

They offer some very good first-hand material on the ancient Church.

I applaud your desire to do this. I’d love to hear feedback on what you think in this matter as you read the books.
In the matter of Luther wanting to remove James from the NT, he also wanted to remove Jude, Hebrews and Revelation. :shrug:
As to the OT books removed, in addition to the 7 that were completely removed, there are portions of two others…Daniel is one and I can’t remember the other…

When I discovered this it struck me as so odd that the people who wanted to declare that Bible as the supreme and sole authority (Sola Scriptura) them immediately wanted to (and in some cases did) Change the Bible…It made no sense…

I’m very curious about church history now and want to know when and why certain beliefs got booted. Please regimens me some good resources on this subject.

As others have pointed out this is a very broad request.
When you ask about “why certain beliefs got booted”, are you mainly referring to the time of the reformation till now?
The reason I ask is because throughout the 2 millenia of the Church there have been many “beliefs” that “got booted”. They were call “heresies” - like the Nestorians, Arians and the Gnostics…

For me - and a very big reason why I came home to the Catholic Church had to do with the history so I can see why this is of interest to you. If I may briefly share…
The biggest “belief that got booted” in the reformation was the one that said that the Church was both visible and authoritative. Now this may not have been Luther’s intent, but it was the result none-the-less. This is patently evident in the fact that the “fathers of the reformation” could not agree and went their separate ways establishing competing “reformed” churches and contradictory biblical worldviews instead of one. So the very foundation of protestantism was built on the shifting sands of personal interpretation and rejection of “authoritative Church”.

This idea of non-authoritative Church was alien to Christianity for the first 1500 years and in fact, not only can it not be found in the Bible, but the Bible actually points quite clearly toward a visible and authoritative Church.

So - while reading the excluded books is a good idea, consider too that the “baby being thrown out with the bathwater” may have more to do with the underlying principles and structural models of the RC/EO vs the Post Reformation non-Catholic SS groups.

God Bless you on your journey.


I recommend the book by John Henry Newman. An Essay On Development Of Christian Doctrine


I’m most interested in the early church…those first couple centuries. I have no real knowledge on this. Also around the Protestant reformation, which I have the summarized knowledge one squires as part of a liberal arts education.

I’m finding it was Esther that got shortened. The thought of thatbeing cut makes me sad. While ive only been a Christian for 5 years ive always loved the story of Esther. Particularly since before I read the Bible for myself Christianity had always been represented as hating women (of course that’s ridiculous).

The gnostics are the only heretic versions iveheard of (mostly because of popular historical fiction) it is my understanding that these works actually contradict the gospels.

I would strongly recommend the first volume of Warren Caroll’s History of Christendom.

This book covers the period you are talking about. It covers from the Old Testament, through the Incarnation, until the time of Constatine. The early Church is very well documented in this book.
It is a great read, you will really enjoy it. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

That sounds right - I was thinking it was Ruth - So I at least had the gender right…:smiley:

The gnostics are the only heretic versions I’ve heard of (mostly because of popular historical fiction) it is my understanding that these works actually contradict the gospels.

In the first five centuries there were a number of heresies that sprang up and were condemned, generally by Church council - which points again to the very biblical way of dealing with the sin of teaching false doctrine…
This page give s brief description of many of them.

I’m not really familiar with these matters, but I have heard it discussed here that some of these early heresies have actually crept back into the teachings of some groups who claim the name Christian…If you are interested in this aspect, I’m sure that there folks here who would happily provide details and resources…but I don’t want to overwhelm you…


I appreciate that. This is fast becoming a larger undertaking than I thought. Just footling for resources is taking Me down so many side trails i need focus. One answer leads to more queastions. I’m afraid of where God might be leading me. After all, the last Time I had queastion of this nature I became a christian

ha ha…sounds funny!

God Bless your research


You can access the writings of the Church fathers in those early centuries at this website.

Some of the earliest & better known (in alphabetical order, not necessarily chronological) would be:
Barnabas (mentioned in Scripture)
Clement of Rome (died approx 99 AD)
**Ignatius of Antioch **(born approx 50 AD)
**St. Irenaeus **(born approx 115-125 AD)
**Justin Martyr **(born approx 100 AD)
Origen (185-232 AD)
Papias (disciple of St. John)
Polycarp ( died 155 AD; known by Papias, Ignatius and Irenaeus)
**Tertullian ** (born approx 160 AD; Tertullian later apostasized)

(And of course the Didache, which dates to around 100 AD)

And a brief descriptions of the councils that dealt with them…


Is your group familiar with the history of how the Bible came about? Maybe start from there…

I will repeat my earlier recommendation. It gives a very good desciption of the Early Church with respect to many of the theological heresies and contraversies of the first couple of centuries. It will certainly help you focus.

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