2002 - I had to reorganize this from an alphabetical to a topical format; it was getting way too long. I hope you find it more helpful this way.

If you can only read one or two books . . .

If you feel like buying something, this Web author will get a cut if you buy it from Amazon using the links below. Comments in bold type are my opinions. Happy studies!

Original Documents And Writings

Bettenson, Henry. Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd edition. London: Oxford University Press, 1978. Very helpful for basic access to crucial statements in the ancient writings. Excerpts are very short, however.  Buy it now

Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim's Progress. Many editions. Not history, but such a good book! One of the top five Christian books of all time. Buy it now

Calvin, John. Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts and Letters. ed. by Henry Beveridge and Jules Bonnet. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983. Reprint of 19th century editions. Out of print. Try to buy it now

Calvin, John and Sadoleto, Jacopo. A Reformation Debate. ed. John C. Olin. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976. Reprint of 1966 Harper & Row edition. Buy it now

Erasmus, Desiderius. The Essential Erasmus. John P. Dolan, ed. New York: New American Library, 1964. A collected edition of Erasmus's writings. Buy it now

Fairweather, Eugene R., ed. A Scholastic Miscellany: Anselm to Ockham. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956. This is one of the places you can read Anselm's classic Cur Deus Homo. Buy it now

Knox, John. History of the Reformation in Scotland. William Croft Dickinson, ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1950. Buy it now

Lightfoot, J. B. and Harmer, J. R., revised by Holmes, Michael W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992. (An earlier edition is in the Church library) Buy English-only edition now Special Order the Greek-English edition

Luther, Martin. The Bondage of the Will. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, translators. n.p: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1957. One of the great books of the Reformation. Here Luther precedes Calvin and expounds the fallacies of the doctrine of free will.   Buy it now

Luther, Martin. Martin Luther: Selections from his writings. John Dillenberger, ed. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1961. The standard collection of Luther's writings for new Luther readers.   Buy it now

Roberts, Alexander; Donaldson, James; eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. 10 volumes. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979. Reprint of 1885-???? edition. Great stuff, good Protestant notes. Wish there was something a little newer that did the same thing. Soon available on a CD from Logos with all the footnotes.  Buy it now

Schaff, Philip; Wace, Henry; eds. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. 28 volumes. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979. Reprint of 1890-???? edition. Same as Roberts, above.  Buy it now

Reference Only

Douglas, J. D., ed. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978. Very helpful for short introductions to a person or topic.  Buy it now

Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Britannica DVD 2002. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2001. Very useful. I have it running on the computer almost all the time while preparing lessons. Buy the DVD

Ferguson, Sinclair; Wright, David F.; Packer, J. I., eds. New Dictionary of Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988. Buy it now

Overview Histories

Anders, Max E.; Lunsford, Judith A. 30 Days To Understanding Church History. Brentwood, Tenn: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1991. (Church library)  Buy it now

Bainton, Roland. Christendom. 2 vols. New York, Harper & Row, 1966.  Out of print.

Baker, Robert A. A Summary of Christian History. Revised by John M. Landers. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994. (Church library)  Buy it now

Barraclough, Geoffrey, ed. The Christian World: A Social and Cultural History. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1981.  Buy it now

Berkhof, Louis. The History of Christian Doctrines. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975. (First published 1937.)  Buy it now

Boer, Harry R. A Short History of the Early Church. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976. Nice narrative introduction; gets to the heart of the matter, but very short. (Church library) Buy it now

Bray, Gerald. Biblical Interpretation: Past & Present. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Excellent introduction to a subject I had known nothing about: the theologians' and commentators' use of the Bible throughout the ages.  (Church library)  Buy it now

Brown, Harold O. J. Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy from the Apostles to the Present. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984. Excellent! Highly orthodox and clear views of the development of doctrine as viewed through the lens of deviation from standard Nicene and Chalcedonian thinking.  (Church library) Buy it now

Burke, James. The Day the Universe Changed. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1985. Buy it now

Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries, 3rd edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.  Weaker than Shelley. Considering this is a standard textbook in many schools, I expected better. Many trite and obvious comments. (Church library) Buy it now

Clouse, Robert G.; Pierard, Richard V.; Yamauchi, Edwin M. Two Kingdoms: The Church and Culture Through the Ages. Chicago: Moody Press, 1993. (Church library) Buy it now

Cunningham, William. Historical Theology. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1979. Two volumes. Reprint of 1862 edition. Helpful for its highly partisan Protestant view of the early church. Clarifies the issues.  Buy it now

Demarest, Bruce. The Cross and Salvation. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1997. (Church library) Buy it now

Dockery, David S. Biblical Interpretation Then and Now. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992. Not as interesting as the Bray volume. (Church library) Buy it now

Dowley, Tim. Introduction to the History of Christianity. [Also published previously as the Lion Handbook of the History of Christianity and the Eerdmans Handbook of the History of Christianity.] Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.  Very helpful for the general reader; many beautiful photographs in full color. Buy this instead of the Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity.  (Church library)  Buy it now

Edwards, David L. Christian England. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1983. Reprint of 1980 edition.A really nice, sensitive history of Christianity in England. Too bad it's out of print. Try to Buy Vol 1 Vol 2 Vol 3

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. One-volume edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986. Buy it now

Gonzalez, Justo.The Story of Christianity : Volume One: The Early Church to the Reformation. Volume Two: Reformation to the Present Day. Buy volume 1. Buy volume 2. Justo Gonzalez is one of the standard authors for laymen. Recommended by many friends -- haven't read him myself.

Gonzalez, Justo. A History of Christian Thought: From the Beginnings to the Council of Chalcedon. Nashville: Abingdon, revised edition 1988. Buy it now

Gonzalez, Justo. A History of Christian Thought: From Augustine to the Eve of the Reformation. Nashville: Abingdon, revised edition 1988. Buy it now

Gonzalez, Justo. A History of Christian Thought: From the Protestant Reformation to the Twentieth Century. Nashville: Abingdon, revised edition 1988. Buy it now

Hartt, Frederick. Art: A History of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, 2nd edition. 2 volumes. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1985. Buy it now

Houghton, S. M. Sketches From Church History: An Illustrated Account of 20 Centuries of Christ's Power. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980. Too brief to be of much use. No real appreciation of non-Reformed Christianity.  (Church library) Buy it now

McManners, John, ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. I bought it for the pictures, and that's about all I got. Skeptical and unevangelical. Poorly organized text. Majors on the minors. High price. Buy it now

Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. 5 volumes. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971-1989. Should be on every serious reader's bookshelf. Thoughtful, careful scholarship from the master. Even though he's not a right-wing evangelical like me, he is always fair and respectful to his topic. Never fails to inspire. Buy Vol 1 Buy Vol 2 Buy Vol 3 Buy Vol 4 Buy Vol 5

Sayers, Dorothy L. Creed or Chaos? Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1995. Originally published 1949. A good defense of creedal Christianity. Buy it now

Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1976. An attempt at a comprehensive interpretation of Western history for evangelicals. Only partially successful, but always thought-provoking. Buy it now

Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. 8 volumes. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979. Reprint of 1910 edition. I appreciate Schaff more every time I dip in. Not as dated as you might think. Buy it now  CD-ROM

Shedd, William G. T. A History of Christian Doctrine. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1975. (Reprint of 1889 edition.) Out of print.

Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language. Updated 2nd edition. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1995. Excellent! One of my favorite introductory texts. Better than Cairns or Bainton if you want just one book.  (Church library)   Buy it now

Spickard, Paul R.; Cragg, Kevin M. God's Peoples: A Social History of Christians. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994. (Church library) Buy it now

Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986. (Church library) Buy it now

Woodbridge, John D., ed. Great Leaders of the Christian Church. Chicago: Moody Press, 1988. This book is much better than most at giving a survey of church history by profiling its leading lights. With beautiful color pictures and top-notch articles, it is a good companion to Dowley's book.  Buy it now

The Early Church

Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo: A Biography. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1969. I love Peter Brown on the ancient world. It will not seem ancient once you read him! His encyclopedic knowledge illuminates every facet of Augustine's life and times.  Buy it now

Brown, Peter. The World of Late Antiquity AD 150-750. n.p., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. Lots of good pictures and informative text from an expert in this time period. I am currently reading his biography of Augustine. Buy it now

Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967. Buy it now

Corbishley, Mike. Cultural Atlas for Young People: Ancient Rome. New York: Facts on File, 1989.  Buy it now

Ferguson, Everett. Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993. (Church library) Buy it now

Grant, Robert M. Greek Apologists of the Second Century. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1988. (Church library) Buy it now

Hall, Stuart G. Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991. Very helpful. (Church library) Buy it now

Hastings, Arthur F. In His Honor: A Pictorial Journey Through the Early Years of the Christian Church. Muskego, WI: H. H. P. Publishing, Incorporated, 1994. Coffee-table book of early churches in full-color photography. Unfortunately, no effort to give real archaeological details. Many unfounded Catholic assumptions in the captions.  (Church library) Buy it now

Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Doctrines, revised edition. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1978. Excellent! A basic resource. Judging by the citations in other works, this book is a standard in the field. It earned its place! (Church library)  Buy it now

Moody, Campbell N. The Childhood of the Church. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1938. An interesting little book that I got in a used bookstore. Thesis is that we shouldn't be surprised that the Pauline doctrines got lost so quickly in the early church, because that's exactly what the author has seen on the mission field. Free grace is the last thing to be understood. Out of print.

Thompson, J. A. Handbook of Life in Bible Times. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1986. Out of print.

The Medieval Church

Batterberry, Michael. Art of the Middle Ages. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1971.  Buy it now

Bredero, Adriaan H. Christendom and Christianity in the Middle Ages. Trans. Reinder Bruinsma. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. (Church library) Buy it now

Corbishley, Mike. Cultural Atlas for Young People: The Middle Ages. New York: Facts on File, 1990. Buy it now

Geisler, Norman L. Thomas Aquinas: An Evangelical Appraisal. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991. Buy it now

The Eastern Church

Mathewes-Green, Frederica. Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey Into The Mysteries of Orthodoxy. Harper San Francisco, 1997. An interesting account of an Evangelical's journey into Orthodox Christianity. Buy it now

Ware, Timothy (Kallistos). The Orthodox Church. New York: Penguin, many editions. Buy it now

The Reformation

Bainton, Roland. The Age of the Reformation. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1956.  Buy it now

Bainton, Roland. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Nashville: Abingdon, 1978. (Church library).   Buy it now

Bainton, Roland. Hunted Heretic: The Life and Death of Michael Servetus, 1511-1553. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1960.   Buy it now

Bainton, Roland. The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. Nashville: Abingdon, 1978. I haven't got this one yet, but it looks great. Bainton is always good.  Buy it now

Estep, William R. The Anabaptist Story. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1975. I have the revised edition, but there is now a 3rd revised edition. Buy it now

Grimm, Harold J. The Reformation Era. 2nd edition. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1973. Very nice overview with good maps and detailed explanations for a one volume work. Buy it now

Hillerbrand, Hans J. Christendom Divided: The Protestant Reformation. London: Hutchinson, 1971. Buy it now

Hillerbrand, Hans J. The Reformation: A Narrative History Related by Contemporary Observers and Participants. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981. The following link appears to be the same book under a different title: Buy it now

Klassen, William. Covenant and Community: The Life, Writings, and Hermeneutics of Pilgram Marpeck. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1968. Marpeck was a leading Anabaptist of early times. Interesting glimpses of Bucer in this book too. Out of print.

Lindsay, Thomas M. A History of the Reformation. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920. 2 volumes. Out of print.

Littell, Franklin H. The Origins of Sectarian Protestantism. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1964. Buy it now

Ozment, Steven. The Age of Reform: 1250-1550. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980. Buy it now

Ozment, Steven. The Reformation in the Cities: The Appeal of Protestantism to Sixteenth-Century Germany and Switzerland. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980. Buy it now

Parker, T. H. L. John Calvin. Tring: Lion Publishing, 1987. Buy it now

Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Reformation of the Bible; The Bible of the Reformation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. Catalog of a Bible exhibition at Yale and SMU. The Bibles were wonderful, but the book probably isn't of interest to most people. Buy it now

Verduin, Leonard. The Anatomy of a Hybrid: A Study in Church-State Relationships. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976. A pro-Anabaptist view that regards Constantine as the worst thing that ever happened to the church. Buy it now

Verduin, Leonard. The Reformers And Their Stepchildren. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1964. One of the most important books that I have ever read. This book revolutionized my thinking about the mainstream Reformers. Buy it now . The previous link currently says "out of print." You may be able to obtain the book at

Warfield, Benjamin B. Calvin and Augustine. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1956. Buy it now


Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987. (Church library.) As with all of Dr. Lloyd-Jones's books, this is a keeper. What a perceptive thinker! Buy it now

Ryken, Leland. Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were. Grand Rapids: Academie Books (Zondervan), 1986. (Church library.) Buy it now


Modern Christianity

Hey, what about these sections that are empty? They need more stuff! Give me some ideas. (The modern stuff is empty because I haven't taught those topics yet.)

"(Church library)" indicates that the book can be obtained in the library at Community Bible Chapel

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Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003 by Mark S. Ritchie. Permission is granted to use materials herein for the building up of the Christian Church.