Recommended resources: Stories worth retelling

Early church and catholic Christianity

Read about Paul in Paul: A Biography by N. T. Wright (2018). You can find out more about Perpetua with Thomas Heffernan, The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity (2012); Origen in Joseph W. Trigg, Origen (1998); and Clement and Polycarp in Kenneth Berding, The Apostolic Fathers: A Nar­rative Introduction (2017). Other early church martyrs such as Blandina are covered in the classic Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church (1965) by W. H. C. Frend. 

Read about Cyprian of Carthage in Cecil Robeck Jr., Prophecy in Carthage (2022), which also covers Perpetua. Discover more on the roles and lives of early church women with Kate Cooper, Band of Angels (2013). Finally, CH covers the earliest years of Christianity in issues #17: Women in the Early Church; #27: Persecution; #37: Worship; #47: Paul and His Times; #51: Heresy; #59: Jesus; #64: St. Antony and the Desert Fathers; #80: The First Bible Teachers; #96: Gnostics; #97: The Holy Land; #105: Christianity in Early Africa; #124: Faith in the City; and #147: Everyday Life in the Early Church.

Christian empire

Learn about Constantine in Peter Leithart, Defending Constantine (2010). Stephen Hildebrand covers Basil in Basil of Caesarea (2014). There are many books on Augustine, but start with Peter Brown’s Augustine of Hippo (2nd ed., 2000).

CH covers the imperial age with #15: Augustine; #44: John Chrysostom; #54: Eastern Orthodoxy; #57: Converting the Empire; #60: How the Irish Were Saved; #67: Augustine; #85: Debating Jesus’ Divinity: The Council of Nicaea; #93: A Devoted Life: St. Benedict and Western Monasticism; and #101: Healthcare and Hospitals

Medieval Christendom 

Read about the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in Moshe Gil, A History of Palestine, 634–1099 (1992). You can read about Charlemagne in Alessandro Barbero, Charlemagne: Father of a Continent (2000). Discover Hildegard of Bingen in Carmen Acevedo Butcher, Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church (2013); Catherine of Siena in Shelley Emling, Setting the World on Fire (2016); and Julian of Norwich in Veronica Mary Wolf, An Explorer’s Guide to Julian of Norwich (2018). Read about beguines in John Van Engen, Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life (2008); and find more on medieval women in Beth Allison Barr, The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England (2008). For more on the East-West schism, read Henry Chadwick, East and West (2003). Jon Sweeney covers Francis of Assisi in When Saint Francis Saved the Church (2014).

These CH issues are also great resources on the Middle Ages: #3: John Wycliffe; #22: Wald­en­sians; #24: Bernard of Clairvaux; #30: Women in the Medieval Church; #40: The Crusades; #42: Francis of Assisi; #49: Everyday Faith in the Middle Ages; #63: A Severe Salvation; #68: Jan Hus; #70: Dante’s Guide to Heaven and Hell; #73: Thomas Aquinas; #74: Christians and Muslims; #91: Michelangelo; #108: Charlemagne; #127: Medieval Lay Mystics; and #149: Revival: The First Thousand Years. 


For more on William Tyndale, read David Daniell, William Tyndale (2001). The classic biography of Martin Luther is Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand (1950), and a good recent one is Martin Luther (2008) by Martin Marty. Learn more about Argula von Grumbach with Argula von Grumbach (1995) by Peter Matheson. And, for Ignatius of Loyola, check out John O’Malley, The First Jesuits (1993).

Study the Reformation further with these past issues of CH: #4: Zwingli; #5: The Anabaptists; #6: Baptists; #12: John Calvin; #13: Jan Amos Comenius; #16: William Tyndale; #21: Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig; #34: Martin Luther: The Early Years; #35: Columbus and Christianity; #39: Martin Luther: Later Years; #46: John Knox; #48: Thomas Cranmer; #71: Huguenots; #89: Richard Baxter and the English Puritans; #100: The King James Bible; #115: Luther Leads the Way; #118: The People’s Reformation; #120: Calvin, Councils, and Confessions; #122: The Catholic Reformation; #131: Women of the Reformation; and #145: Erasmus.

Reason and revival

Study the life of John Bunyan in David Calhoun, Grace Abounding (2005). Discover John and Charles Wesley in Richard Heitzenrater, Wesley and the People Called Methodists (2nd ed., 2013), and read about George Whitefield in Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones, eds., George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy (2021). Take a look at John Newton with Bruce Hindmarsh and Craig Borlase, Amazing Grace (2023). Learn more about Isaac Watts in David Fountain, Isaac Watts Remembered (1974); William Cowper in James King, William Cowper (1986); and Anne Steele in J. R. Broome, A Bruised Reed (2007).

Refer to these CH issues for more on the age of reason: #1: Zinzendorf and the Moravians; #2: John Wesley; #8: Jonathan Edwards; #10: Pietism; #11: John Bunyan; #31: The Golden Age of Hymns; #38: George Whitefield; #41: The American Puritans; #50: The American Revolution; #53: William Wilberforce; #76: The Christian Face of the Scientific Revolution; #77: Jonathan Edwards; #81: John Newton; #84: Pilgrims and Exiles: Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren; #95: J. S. Bach; #114: Francis Asbury; #117: Quakers; #126: Baptists in America; and #130: Latin American Christianity.

Progress and secularization 

Learn more about Charles Finney with Charles Hambrick-Stowe, Charles G. Finney and the Spirit of American Evangelicalism (1996); Charles Haddon Spurgeon in Michael Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life (2018); and William Carey in Timothy George, Faithful Witness (1991). More on the life of those enslaved in America can be found in Albert Raboteau, Slave Religion (2nd ed., 2004).

Our CH issues on the nineteenth century include #20: Charles Grandison Finney; #23: Spiritual Awakenings in North America; #25: Unconventional Dwight L. Moody; #26: William and Catherine Booth; #29: Charles Spurgeon; #33: Christianity and the Civil War; #36: William Carey; #45: Camp Meetings and Circuit Riders; #52: Hudson Taylor; #56: David Livingstone; #58: The Rise of Pentecostalism; #62: Bound for Canaan; #66: How the West Was Really Won; #69: The Wesleys; #79: African Apostles; #82: Phoebe Palmer; #90: Adoniram and Ann Judson; #99: Faith and the American Presidency; #104: Christians in the New Industrial Economy; #106: The Church to End All Churches: The Stone-Campbell Movement; #107: Debating Darwin; #128: George Müller; and #148: Lilias Trotter.

Age of ideology

Much has been written about C. S. Lewis; one place to start is with his own Surprised by Joy (1955) and with George Sayer, Jack (1988). For more on Mitsuo Fuchida, read his memoirs For That One Day (2011). Mother Theresa’s life is covered in Mother Teresa: The Authorized Biography (1996) by Navin Chawla. Study the Bolshevik Revolution and Russian religion further with Scott Kenworthy, Understanding World Christianity: Russia (2021). 

CH’s resources on the modern era include: #18: The Millennium of “Russian” Christianity; #32: Dietrich Bonhoeffer; #55: The Monkey Trial and the Rise of Fundamentalism; #65: Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century; #75: G. K. Chesterton; #78: J. R. R. Tolkien; #86: George MacDonald; #88: C. S. Lewis; #92: A New Evangelical Awakening; #98: Church in China; #109: Eyewitnesses to Modern Persecution; #111: Billy Graham; #113: Seven Literary Sages; #121: Faith in the Foxholes; #129: Recovery from Modern Amnesia; #136: E. Stanley Jones; and #140: Jack at Home.

More from CHI and from Vision Video

Sweeping overviews of various time periods and places in Christian history include #9: Dissenters, Reformers, and Pioneers; #14: Money in Christian History; #19: Money II; #28: 100 Most Important Events; #61: The End; #72: How We Got Our History; #83: Mary in the Imagination of the Church; #87: India; #94: Building the City of God in a Crumbling World; #100+: History of Hell; #102: People of Faith; #102+: History of Worship; #103: Christmas; #110: Callings; #112: Heaven in the Christian Imagination; #116: 25 Writings; #119: Wonder of Creation; #123: Captive Faith; #125: Food and Faith; #132: Friendships; #133: Christianity and Judaism; #134: Science and Technology; #135: Plagues and Epidemics; #138: America’s Book; #139: Hallowed Halls; #141: City of Man; #142: Divine Healing; #143: America’s Book 2; #144: Christian History in Images; and #146: Christ and Culture in Russia

Our Christian History Institute website holds a wealth of information. Find study modules for each age of church history, devotionals, guides, stories behind notable quotes, and a full list of popes and patriarchs under our “Explore” tab. You can also access the text of all our back issues at Christian History Institute. Full digital flipbooks and color PDF downloads are available for issues #100 and up, as well as some select reprinted issues. 

You can also find many of the topics listed above in CHI and Vision Video film productions. Our popular children’s series, The Torchlighters, covers multiple figures throughout Christian history and has companion documentaries. We also have overviews of eras, including History of Christianity, Discovering the Bible, History of Christian Worship, This Changed Everything, and much more. Some of these titles are only available via digital download; search and access more content by streaming on Redeem TV

Other Websites 

Public-domain primary source documents from many people referenced in this issue can be found at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and at (Gutenberg also includes older secondary sources). Visit the Internet Ancient Sourcebook, the Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and the Internet Modern Sourcebook as well. Reformation-era sources in particular can be found at the Post-Reformation Digital Library and at Project Wittenberg CH 

By the authors and editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #150 in 2024]

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