7 Best Books About Early Christianity Update 05/2022

Books About Early Christianity

You might not know much about early Christianity because it’s so far away from you that you don’t know much about anything after Pentecost. Are you curious about what happened to each of the Apostles, and how the Church spread from Jerusalem to different parts of the world? You can read about these things in the Bible.

Some well-known Catholics, authors, and intellectuals have given us their thoughts on what resources are out there for people who don’t know much about the history of the Church in the first few centuries. She has put together this list of the best books about early Christian history:

The Didache

The Didache

The short Didache, also known as The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, is a good place to start if you want to get to the heart of the matter quickly.

People who work for the Bible Christian Society, John Martignoni, say this: “This is a short book that’s easy to read and gives a small taste of what people were like at the end of the first century.”

“It has a short treatise on the two ways: the way of life and the way of death. It also talks about sins, fasting, and prayer, Baptism, and the Eucharist, as well as other things, like the end times.”

Ecclesiastical History, by Eusebius

He said that Eusebius’ Church History is often called “the first work on the history of the Church,” and that it starts with Jesus and goes through the fourth century, when it was written. Eusebius gives very detailed lines of succession for the bishops of all the major cities in his book. … Some of the time, Eusebius does not write in the way that we would expect a historian to write. He moves more into the style of a hagiographer. It is, however, still a very important and valuable text for anyone who wants to learn more about the Church’s history.

“Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, and Host of Open Line Monday,” Martignoni says. “Eusebius also gives fascinating accounts of the Apostles, the martyrs, and other prominent figures of the early Church as well as more background on some of the characters that only appear in the New Testament.”

City of God, by St. Augustine of Hippo

A priest from the Archdiocese of Washington, Fr. Avelino Gonzalez, said that St. Augustine of Hippo’s “History and Theology” is one of the best Western works of literature. “For good reason,” he said. In the history of Western civilization, the Roman Empire came to an end. This book was written at that time, and it was very important at the time (410 A.D.). The book is the first time someone has tried to come up with a philosophy of history. It looks at human history as a fight between two groups of people in the universe. One group is from the City of Man and is made up of people who are focused on earthly desires and the pleasures of the passing world. In the second group are people who believe in eternal truths about God and follow Jesus Christ as the incarnate Word of God and Redeemer of all people. History is seen as God’s plan for the salvation and happiness of the human race coming to fruition. Only those who live in the City of God will be saved.

In this interpretation of salvation history, St. Augustine says that paganism, or the sin of idolatry, which was common in the Roman Empire, had the seeds of its own destruction, which means that the City of Man was nihilistic. “Why does it seem that more people in history choose the City of Man than the City of God, even though self-annihilation is certain in the City of God?”

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers The Alphabetical Collection

“Profound, easy to read, and available,” says Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., the founding prior of the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, where St. Benedict was born and where he lived for many years.

Fr. Folsom says that the desert fathers and mothers, who lived in the fourth and fifth centuries, are “larger-than-life heroes.” Their radical ways of living and simple words “cut to the bone.”

“Their ideas are timeless.” Reading them, we’re spurred on to follow Christ even more boldly.

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity

By James D. Tabor

A well-written, well-researched book by a well-known American archaeologist and New Testament scholar. It looks at what we can now be sure about the Jesus of history. Tabor spends a lot of time going over the conflicting evidence in the gospels, which were written 40 to 70 years after the death of Jesus. He also talks about modern archeological findings to help make his point. A paradigm shift in our search for the real Jesus, not the one we believe in.

The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity

By Hyam Maccoby

It would be hard to know much about Jesus’ life if only Paul told us about it. He said that Jesus was born, he was Jewish, had brothers, and died. It was written by a British academic, and it shows how Paul came up with a mythology or theology about the significance of Jesus’ death as a Christ. His ideas are shown in my book, How Jesus Became Christian (2008), which shows how Paul and Jesus were very different in their beliefs.

Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

By Bart D. Ehrman

Ehrman’s many books are worth reading, but this one shows how Christianity changed over the first three centuries. The old idea that there was one main church surrounded by many smaller deviant sects or “heresies” is no longer true. Before Constantine, there were many groups all claiming to be Christian, but no one group was the most powerful. Each tried to be the best. Only in the 4th century CE did one group become the most powerful. It was the group that was supported by two Roman Emperors, Constantine and Theodosius.

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