This blog has several purposes. One is to keep Christian History readers up to date on books and other resources. In my capacity with Christian History, Christianity Today, and Books & Culture, I am deluged with review copies. Not every worthwhile church history book can get a full-blown review in these pages, so I plan to post brief notes (well short of a review) about some interesting books that come our way.

Let's start with two highly visual books: Rosa Giorgi's The History of the Church in Art (Getty) and Timothy Brittain-Catlin's Churches (Collins UK/Trafalgar Square).

Rosa Giorgi's book was first published in Italian in 2004 and is just now making its English language debut. (The official publication date is January 5, but both Amazon.com and Christianbook.com say the book is in stock and can be shipped right away.)

The book features 400 color illustrations spread across 384 pages. It is a real treat for browsers. Start anywhere, and learn something on every page. In a three-page entry on the office of deacon, for example, Giorgio reproduces Vittore Carpaccio's 1514 painting of St. Stephen, one of the first deacons, preaching just before his martyrdom. Among St. Stephen's listeners are pilgrims to Jerusalem, whose walking sticks have a curious hook-shaped top. Why? To carry a gourd for drinking water - the 16th-century equivalent of a Nalgene water bottle. The notes also explain the various pieces of the deacon's ceremonial vestments Stephen is wearing. (I'm giddy from having learned so much from the notes to just one painting.)

The book illustrates church furnishings, vestments, ceremonies, events, historical movements, and famous people.

The art of the Protestant Reformation often veered into propaganda. (Propaganda, ...

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