Church History

“We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old…”

Ps. 44:1

“And what shall I more say?  For the time would fail me to tell of… [those] who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises… of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight… and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection…  of whom the world was not worthy.”

Heb. 11:32-38

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Subsections

Specific Periods:
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Early Church
.     Medieval Church
.     The Reformation and Puritan Era

.     1700’s-1800’s
.     American Church

Historical Theology
Biographies

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Order of Contents

About
For Beginners
  6
Brief Histories  9
In-Depth Histories  15
Histories in Latin  7
Comprehensive Sets  3
Encyclopedias  6
Dictionaries  9
Particular National Churches
.     England
.     Scotland
Bibliographies
.     Church History  15
.     General History  5

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About

If Christ loves and cares about his Church, so should you.

All of the ‘Beginner’ books are recommended and will be very readable and engaging for the person looking to learn about Church history for the first time, or the fourth time.

Beyond that though, some discernment is required (James 1:5).  We have compiled these resources in order to provide some of the best materials in the field in the public domain on the net.  There is a wealth of information, more than one can comprehend really, though you will have to divide the wheat from the chaff here necessary.  

We have sought to build a collection where, if one has a question relating to a specific point in Church history, you will be able to find more detailed information on the subject here than you ever wanted to know.  Hence, we have freely spoiled the Egyptians (Ex. 12:36), namely the 1800’s German liberals who emphasized exhaustive scholarship, for the task:

“Nevertheless, historical scholarship reached a level of maturity by the mid-nineteenth century that, in many respects, has not been surpassed to this day.  In terms of the utilization of primary sources, energy in accumulating these sources, critical power in comparing them, and detachment in their interpretation, it is the case that the accomplishments of a hundred and fifty years ago, particularly in Germany, are seldom surpassed today.  And much that is written today falls far below those standards.”

– J. Bradley & R.A. Muller, Church History, p. 17

If, in the unlikely event, you are not able to find the information you need in the general histories below, you will more than likely find your answer in the more in-depth histories on the smaller time period subsections linked above (which are still under construction).  If all else fails you, the bibliographies near the bottom of this page won’t.

Please enjoy reading below of the works of God recorded in the earth, and may his Kingdom come on earth, as it is in Heaven, till Christ comes to take us Home.

* – denotes some of the more prominent works, though this is sometimes an arbitrary designation and the other works should be consulted too.

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For Beginners  6  Recommended

Bits and Fragments

Ferguson, Beeke, Haykin – Church History 101: the Highlights of 20 Centuries  Buy  2016  99 pp. in a small booklet

Houghton, S.M. – Sketches from Church History: An Illustrated Account of 20 Centuries of Christ’s Power  Buy  1980  256 pp.

Houghton was been a long time editor with the Banner of Truth, known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Church history and his 40,000+ books. 

Knoll, Mark – Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity  Buy  3rd ed. 2012  360 pp.

Knoll is a reformed-evangelical and historian of especially the American Church.

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Whole Histories

Kuiper, B.K. – The Church in History  Buy  1951  420 pp.

Kuiper (1877-1961) was Dutch reformed and was the first history professor at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids.

Needham, Nick – 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power  Buy  1998  multiple volumes

Needham is a reformed baptist and is a lecturer at Highland Theological College in Scotland.  His work is both popular and detailed enough that know some about the subject will still learn.

Gonzalez, Justo – The Story of Christianity  Buy  1984  830 pp.

Gonzalez is a Cuban-American Methodist who is known for his lucid writing style.  This work gives one a drag-race overview of the whole of church history.


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Brief Histories  8

1600’s

Spanheim, Jr., Frederic – Ecclesiastical Annals from the Commencement of Scripture History to the Epoch of the Reformation  1689  550 pp.

Spanheim Jr. was a German reformed theologian who taught in the Netherlands, succeeding J. Cocceius.  On this work, see Kurtz’s comments.

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1800’s

* Hase, Charles – A History of the Christian Church  1875  755 pp.

Hase was a German born, resident of France who specialized in Byzantine history.

“Of the smaller manuals of Church history, one of the most important is that of Hase…  It is a condensed narrative of a thorough scholar, written in a pithy and sometimes racy style.” – G.P. Fisher

Blackburn, William – History of the Christian Church from its Origin to the Present Time  1879  735 pp.

Blackburn was a presbyterian and graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.

* Zenos, Andrew – Compendium of Church History  1896  345 pp.  Presbyterian Board of Publication

Zenos was a Princeton modernist, but a great historian.  The publisher was conservative.

ed. Gwatkin, H.M. – The Church, Past and Present: a Review of its History  1899  310 pp.  This work has several contributors, mainly Anglican clergy.

Gwatkin (1844–1916) was a Cambridge professor.

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1900’s

* Fisher, George Park – History of the Christian Church, with Maps  1900  162 pp.

Fisher (1827–1909) was an American professor of Church History at Yale.

Walker, Williston – A History of the Christian Church  1918  605 pp.

Walker was a Yale professor.  “Perhaps the best of the one-volume histories, though rather too packed, and less good toward the end.” – Owen Chadwick

Clarke, C.P.S. – Short History of the Christian Church: from the Earliest Times to the Present Day  1929/1949  560 pp.

Bainton, Roland – Christendom: a Short History of Christianity and its Impact on Western Civilization, 2 vols.  Buy  1966

Johnson, Paul – A History of Christianity  Buy  576 pp.  1979

Good writer and historian; from a secular perspective.


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In-Depth Histories  14

1700’s

* Mosheim, Johann – An Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, vol. 1 (to 1517), 2 (1517-1700)  †1755  There is no table of contents.

Mosheim (1693–1755) was a German, moderate Lutheran, and considered by many to be the father of modern, scientific history.  A classic.

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1800’s

Waddington, George – A History of the Church from the Earliest Ages to the Reformation  1835  570 pp. double-columned

Waddington was a Cambridge scholar.  See Schaff’s comments.

Dollinger, J.J. – A History of the Church, vol. 1 (to 313), 2 (313-680), 3 (680-1124), 4 (1124-1513)  1840-2

Dollinger (1799–1890) was the most learned Roman Catholic historian of the 19th century, per J.A. Fisher.  See Kurtz’s comments.

Neander, Augustus – General History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 1 (to 312), 1.5 (Doctrinal),  2 (312-590), 3-4 (590-814 / 814-1078), 5 (1073-1294), 6 (1294-1517)  1850

Neander (1789–1850) was a liberal German scholar.  See Philip Schaff’s commendation of his teacher, but also his fuller criticisms here.

* Gieseler, John – A Compendium of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1 (to 400), 2 (400-1073), 3 (1073-1305), 4 (1305-1409), 5 (1400-1517)  1854

Gieseler (1792–1854) was a German historian.  He copiously references sources and authorities and quotes original documents in full in the footnotes.

“Profoundly learned, acute, calm, impartial, conscientious, but cold and dry.” – Philip Schaff

“It is generally considered the best of all the text-books on church history.” – J.A. Fisher

Robertson, James Craigie – History of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (64-590), 2 (590-1122), 3 (1122-1303), 4 (1303-1517)  1864

Robertson (1813–1882) was a Scottish born, English Churchman.

“The author, a Canon in the English Episcopal Church, is a well-informed scholar, and writes in a moderate and candid spirit.” – G.P. Fisher

Guericke, Henry E. – Manual of Church History, vol. 1 (to 590), 2 (590-1073)  1872  Translated by the orthodox, reformed theologian William G.T. Shedd.

Guericke was a German professor.  “The tone of the book is that of a Lutheran polemic.” – J.A. Fisher

Kurtz, Johann Heinrich – Church History, vol. 1 (to 911), 2 (911-1600), 3 (1600-1800’s)  1889  The translator, John MacPherson, was not Scot in the Free Church of Scotland, though another edition of this work was translated by Alfred Edersheim.

Kurtz (1809–1890) was one of the more ‘evangelical’ German liberals.  He treats of the international Church after the Reformation.

“Its author writes in sympathy with the Lutheran creed.  The facts are clearly presented and well arranged.  It is an excellent work.” – G.P. Fisher

* Schaff, Philip – History of the Christian Church, 7 vols.  †1893  from the 1910 Charles Scribner’s edition

Schaff (1819–1893) was a very influential and good, Swiss-born, American church historian and professor in the German Reformed Church.

“The greatest monument of American scholarship in the field of church history.  Orthodox, liberal, readable… It is peculiarly rich in bibliographies.” – J.A. Fisher

“Philip Schaff… is sometimes considered the father of American church history… because he brought together the best advances in the study of church history and set new standards for the discipline in the United States… and set forth his own understanding of church history, called ‘The Reformed-Catholic Percpective.’…  Yet while Schaff represented the best in post-Enlightenment historiography, the influence of Hegel was so pervasive that the work suffers from at least three characteristic weaknesses…  

Schaff understands history in terms of steady improvement, but he is, in the first place, naively optimistic…  Second, the historian is able to truly comprehend past events, and to unfold them, just as they originally stood, before the eyes of the readers.  Finally, like Neander and Tholuck, Schaff is overly optimistic about the historian’s ability to discern the hand of providence and the guiding spirit of Christianity in history.” – Bradley & Muller, p. 17

Sheldon, Henry – History of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (Early), 2 (Medieval), 3 (Modern), 4 (Modern), 5 (Modern)  1894

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1900’s

* Hurst, John Fletcher – History of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (to 1300’s) 2 (1300’s-1900)  1900  1,000 pp. each

Hurst (1834–1903) was an American bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the first Chancellor of the American University in Washington, D.C.

Moeller, Wilhelm – History of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (to 600), 2 (600-1517), 3 (1517-1648)  1902  555 pp.

Moeller was a German professor.

Milman, Henry Hart – History of Latin Christianity, including that of the Popes, vol. 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8  1908  The history goes up to AD 1455.

Milman (1791 –1868) was an ecclesiastic and ‘an English church historian of the first rank’ (Kurtz).

“…he write for the literary class.  It is a useful complement to Neander.  The learning is ample, the style is animated, but with a predilection for the Latin element.  On the Papacy in the Middle Ages, and on the topics connected with literature and art, Milman is both entertaining and instructive.” – G.P. Fisher

* Latourette, Kenneth Scott – A History of the Expansion of Christianity, vol. 1, 2, 3  1937

Latourette (1884–1968) was an American involved in missions and a graduate of Yale.  This is a well-known work in the field.

Hughes, Philip – A History of the Church  1947  1426 pp.  This history goes up to 1520, as the author died before completing the fourth planned volume.

Hughes, not to be confused with Philip Edgecumbe Hughes, was a Roman Catholic historian.

The Pelican History of the Church, 5 vols.  Buy  1960 ff.


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In Latin  7

For reformed works on single periods of history, see the list by Schaff.

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1500’s

ed. Flacius, Matthias – The Magdeburg Centuries, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13  1559-1574  Here is the 1st edition of the whole work on a German website.

This was the first Protestant church history, written by Lutheran scholars, covering the first 13 centuries.  Read more about it at Wiki and in this journal article.

“They rest throughout on careful studies, produce many documents that were previously unknown, and with an unsparingly bitter polemic against the Romish doctrinal degeneration, address themselves with special diligence to the historical development of dogma.” – Kurtz

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1600’s

Hottinger, J.H. – Ecclesiastical History of the New Testament, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  1651 ff.

Hottinger (1620–1667) was a Swiss reformed theologian.  On this work, see Kurtz’s comments.

Casaubon, Isaac – 16 Exercitations of Sacred and Ecclesiastical Things Against Cardinal Baronius  1614  690 pp.

Casaubon (1559-1614) was reformed.  The Roman Catholic Baronius (1538-1607) had written a history of the Church against the Magdeburg Centuries above.  Here Casaubon criticizes Baronius’s work.  Kurtz says this work is amongst the ‘most important of all’ the protestant historiography literature, along with that of Basnage below.

Basnage, Samuel

Political and Ecclesiastical Annals to AD 645, vol. 1, 2, 3  1706

Historical-Critical Exercitations of Sacred and Ecclesiastical Things Against Cardinal Baronius  1692  700 pp.

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1700’s

Weismann, Christian E. – Introductio In Memorabilia Ecclesiastica Historiae Sacrae Novi Testamenti, vols. 1 & 2  1718

Weismann was a Lutheran.

Lamp, Friedrich – A Synopsis of Sacred and Ecclesiastical History  1726  620 pp.

Lamp (1683–1729) was a German, reformed, pietist pastor and professor.

Venema, Herman – Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  1777 ff.

Venema (1697-1787) was reformed, and was called by Kurtz ‘the Mosheim of this church’.


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Comprehensive Sets  3

Oxford History of the Christian Church, 20 vols.  Buy  1977 ff.

ed. Jedin & Dolan – History of the Church, 10 vols.  Buy  1979

“A standard reference by Catholic scholars.  Each volume has a bibliography of 50-100 pages.” – Bradley & Muller

The Cambridge History of Christianity, 9 vols.  Buy  1989-2004


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Encyclopedias  5

They just don’t make encyclopedias like they used to.  Encyclopedias at the end of the 1800’s and early 1900’s are some of the most scholarly and in-depth that have ever been printed, especially in the field of history, and cover topics too specific, detailed and lengthy for modern abridgments.

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General Knowledge

Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition  29 vols.  1911

This was the best, longest and most in-depth Encyclopedia Britannica ever printed.

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Religious & Church History

McClintock & Strong – Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature  12 vols.  1867-1887

The Catholic Encyclopedia  1907-1912

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge  12 vols.  1908-1914

ed. Hastings – Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 1 (A-Art), 2 (Arthur-Bunyan), 3 (Burial-Confessions), 4 (Confirmation-Drama), 5 (Dravidians-Fichte), 6 (Fiction-Hyksos), 7 (Hymns-Liberty), 8 (Life & Death-Mulla), 9 (Mundas-Phrygians), 10 (Picts-Sacraments), 11 (Sacrifice-Sudra), 12 (Suffering-Zwingli)  1908-1927

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Other Religions

Jewish Encyclopedia  1901-1906

Islam

ed. Hughes – Encyclopedia of Islam  1913

ed. Meri, J. – Medieval Islamic Civilization: an Encyclopedia, vol. 1, A-K, 2, L-Z  Preview  2006


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Dictionaries  9

General Works

1800’s

Robinson, John – A Theological, Biblical & Ecclesiastical Dictionary  1835  1,110 pp.

Buck, Charles – A Theological Dictionary… together with… Ecclesiastical History  1838  500 pp.

Staunton, William – An Ecclesiastical Dictionary  1861  700 pp.

Eadie, John – The Ecclesiastical Cyclopaedia, or Dictionary  1862  680 pp.

Eadie was the stalwart Biblical commentator and scholar of the Scottish United Presbyterian Church.

Blunt, John Henry – Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties and School of Religious Thought  1874  660 pp.

Benton, A.A. – The Church Cyclopedia, a Dictionary of Church Doctrine, History, Organization and Ritual 1886  760 pp.  associated with the Protestant Episcopal Church

Addis & Arnold – A Catholic Dictionary: containing some account of the Doctrine, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies, Councils and Religious Orders of the Catholic Church 1893  980 pp.

This work is rather full and has a lot of things not found in other dictionaries.

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1900’s

Thein, John – An Ecclesiastical Dictionary  1900  760 pp.

ed. Cross – The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church  Buy  1958/1974/1988/2004

“In a class by itself as a single-volume work of historical reference.  Packed with accurate information, it has selective but exact bibliographies.” – Owen Chadwick

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Particular National Churches

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Histories of the English Church

ed. Stephens & Hunt – A History of the English Church:

Hunt, William – The English Church: From Its Foundation to the Norman Conquest (597-1066)  1912  440 pp.

Stephens, W.R.W. – The English Church from the Norman Conquest to the Accession of Edward I, 1066-1272  1904  365 pp.

Capes, W.W. – A History of the English in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries  1900  405 pp.

Frere, W.H. – The English Church in the Reigns of Elizabeth and James I, 1558-1625  1904  430 pp.

Gairdner, James – The English Church in the Sixteenth Century from the Accession of Henry VIII to the Death of Mary  1903  450 pp.

Hutton, William Holden – The English Church from the Accession of Charles I to the Death of Anne, 1625-1714  1903  380 pp.

Overton, John H. – The English Church from the Accession of George I to the End of the 18th Century , 1714-1800  1906  390 pp.

Cornish, Francis Warre – The English Church in the Nineteenth Century, part 1, 2  1910  

ed. Ollard, S.L. – A Dictionary of English Church History  1912  690 pp.

Moorman, J.R. – A History of the Church of England  Preview  Buy  1953  505 pp.

“The best one-volume history.” – Owen Chadwick

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Histories of the Scottish Church

ed. Lachman, Cameron & Wright – Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology  Buy  1993  900 pp.

Burleigh, J.H.S. – A Church History of Scotland  Buy  1960


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Bibliographies for Church History  15

1800’s

Dowling, John Goulter – An Introduction to the Critical Study of Ecclesiastical History  1838  330 pp.

Schaff, Philip

‘The Principal Works on Church History’  1854  100 pp.  being ch. 4 of History of the Apostolic Church with a General Introduction to Church History, 61-160  Schaff here gives extended annotations on the works.

‘General Introduction: Literature’  in History of the Christian Church, vol. 1

Hase, Charles – ‘General Literature’  being ch. 2 of A History of the Christian Church, pp. 7-12  1875

Hase was a German born, resident of France who specialized in Byzantine history.

“Condensed, skillfully arranged, and well-written.” – J.A. Fisher

Fisher, J.A. – A Select Bibliography of Ecclesiastical History, Annotated  1885  70 pp.

Kurtz, J.H. – ‘History of General Church History’  1888  10 pp.  in Church History, vol. 1, pp. 12-22

Kurtz gives commentary on all the major ecclesiastical histories that have been written since the Christian era.

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1900’s

Hurst, John Fletcher – ‘Literature of Church History’  1900  14 pp.  in History of the Christian Church, vol. 1, pp. 1-14

Fisher, George P. – ‘Notes on the Literature of Church History’  1900  27 pp.  being an Appendix in History of the Christian Church, pp. 671-697

Moeller, Wilhelm – ‘History of Church History’ & ‘Introduction to the Knowledge of the Literature and Sources of Church History’  1902  History of the Christian Church, vol. 1, pp. 6-26

Coulter & Hoseh – Historical Bibliographies: a Systematic and Annotated Guide  Buy  1935; rep. 1965

“A useful guide to older materials.” – Bradley & Muller

Case, McNeill, Sweet, Pauck, Spinka – Bibliographical Guide to the History of Christianity  1937  250 pp.  University of Chicago

“Case is not selective, is more for specialists…” – Owen Chadwick

Chadwick, Owen – The History of the Church; A Select Bibliography  Buy  1973

Blockx, Karel – Bibliographical Introduction to Church History  Buy  1982  This is not annotated and it has no title index.

Gorman & Gorman – Theological and Religious Reference Materials: General Resources and Biblical Studies Buy  & Systematic Theology and Church History  Buy  1984/5

“This is the best recent guide for the literature of church history and historical theology, but the second volume in the series must be used in conjunction with the first, since there is much material on church history in the first volume.  These two volumes provide detailed annotations for most reference works in church history, but the organization is poor.  Standard denominational bibliographies are dispersed throughout the volumes, but can be located through the indices.” – Bradley & Muller

Kepple, Robert & Muether, John – Reference Works for Theological Research  Buy  3rd ed. 1992  264 pp.  pp. 129-65 covers church history, with all items annotated.

Muether is associated with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and has written numerous history books on reformed history.

“Kepple’s and Muether’s guide to reference works remains one of the most useful general tools for theological research in all fields… [T]his work offers a solid and well-organized beginning point for all theological researchers: It should be of great interest to college and seminary students as a means of aquainting them with the contents of a good reference room, to graduate students and teachers in coordinating their own basic research efforts… This is a fine work that deserves to be widely known.” – Muller

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2000’s

Bradley, J.E. & Muller, R.A. – Church History: an Introduction to Research Methods and Resources  Buy  2nd ed. 2016  293 pp.

Muller is a professor of Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary and Bradley is a professor of Church history at Fuller Theological Seminary.  The 2nd edition is necessary for its valuable online resources.  The first half of the book is a how to guide on historical research and methods; the second half is devoted to bibliographies of up-to-date resources.


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Bibliographies of General History  5

Adams, Charles Kendall – A Manual of Historical Literature with Brief Descriptions  1889  760  This is of secular history.

Hurst calls this ‘invaluable’.

Peirce, David Roland – A Select Bibliography of History  Buy  1966

Howe, George, et al. – Guide to Historical Literature  Buy  1967  American Historical Association

“A major topical bibliography to serials, series, bibliographical tools, books, articles, etc., in all fields of historical investigation, annotated.  Covers intellectual and religious history but needs to be supplemented in the specific areas of philosophy and theology.” – Bradley & Muller

Berkowitz, David – Bibliographies for Historical Researchers  Buy  1969

Fritze, Coutts & Vyhnanek – Reference Sources in History: an Introductory Guide  Buy  2004  334 pp.

“The best, most recent, comprehensive guide.” – Bradley & Muller

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“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”

Heb. 12:1

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