Father Melton's Recommended Reading List

Many of these may be hard to find, but you may be able to locate some in church libraries, priest’s offices, Half-Price books or Amazon]:

Creeds in the Making: A Short Introduction to the History of Christian Doctrine by Alan Richardson: Accessible summary of the rise and development of major Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the person of Christ, the Atonement & the Holy Spirit, mostly from the 1st century through the early Church Councils.

The Days of the Martyrs by C. Bernard Ruffin: Recounts the history of Christian martyrs from the time of Christ to Constantine, when the “Peace of the Church” became nearly universal within the Roman Empire. Includes many moving personal accounts.

The Holy Scriptures: A Survey by Robert C. Dentan: Easy and concise summary of the Old and New Testaments (but not fluff).

From the Exile to Christ: A Historical Introduction to Palestinian Judaism: A fairly detailed summary of Jewish history from the Babylonian Exile in 597 BC through the time of Jesus, including the Jewish religious beliefs.

New Testament History by F.F. Bruce: excellent resource that recounts the Roman and Jewish context, surveys the lives of John and Jesus, and concludes with a history of the first two generations of the Church.

How It All Began: Origins of the Christian Church by O.C. Edwards: Short summary of historical information and theological perspectives.

Chapters in Church History by Powel Mills Dawley: Concise, easy to understand summary of Church History with chapters on the time of Jesus in the Roman world, the Medieval period, Christianity in England, the Reformation up to the Modern time (1950).

For those interested in more advanced resources, Father Melton suggests:

Ye Are the Body: A People’s History of the Church by Bonnell Spencer: This was written by an Episcopal Holy Cross monk as a general history of the Church for a high school boys’ school, but it’s a great resource for adults as well as teens! This is maybe the best resource for a detailed summary of Church history and includes six maps, twelve charts, and review outlines for each chapter. Fully indexed. (It helped Fr. Melton more than once as a review to prepare for Church history exams in seminary! It’s lengthy and detailed but not a hard read. The latter part of the book focuses special attention to the development of the Anglican Communion.

The Early Church by W.H. Frend: Not a hard read, but more details than the previous list. It covers the 1st century through the 5th century and focuses more on social and political realities and their effect on events, personalities and disputes. Questions addressed include Why and how did Christianity emerge from a Palestinian Jewish sect to become the religion of the Greco-Roman world? How did the conflict with that world develop? What impact did the conflict have on the attitudes and thinking of Christians? What is the source of “heresies” and “schisms”?  Were they due to erroneous ideas or did they represent identifiable traditions of Christian thought?

A History of the Christian Church by Williston Walker and others. This is a seminary level book with a very detailed account of Church history in its entirety. Not for everyone. But history buffs will love it.

Early Christian Doctrines and Early Christian Creeds by J.N.D. Kelly: Both books are seminary level and appealing for those interested in minute details, but not for everyone.