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In the past two weeks, we've looked at ten reasons to know Christian History and ten "starter books" written by Christian leaders from our past. This week we provide our top ten "entry points" to the work of church historians.

Through monumental labor, these scholars have given us a wealth of insight into the church's history. But their work can seem, from afar (and even up close!) dense, dry, and unappetizing. A number of accessible roads can help us to bypass the obstacles and get right to the riches.

Educational theorists have noticed that every person has a slightly different learning style. Some of us are visual thinkers, some more verbal. Some connect with new material best through overviews, some through stories, some through charts or maps. Bearing this variety in mind, as well as the variety of interests, here are ten points of entry, or angles of approach, to the treasure house of Christian History. Each will appeal to different readers. We have recommended a few books under each heading.

1. Encyclopedias


Though often too expensive for personal purchase, comprehensive multi-volume sets can be found in many public and university libraries. Among these, for thorough, up-to-date coverage of the church's history no other series outshines the New Catholic Encyclopedia, just released in a revised version. The old (beginning of the twentieth century) standard on which this encyclopedia is based is available online at www.newadvent.org. The one-volume classic, now in its third edition, is F.L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone's The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. This thorough, well-written source comes from an Anglican perspective. Costing just over $100, it falls within some budgets (compared to multi-volume sets, ...

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April 2003

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