A Survey of Early Church and Medieval History: This is the second of four classes in our course work of history and literature. The study of Early Church history and the Middles Ages is of great importance to Christians of all ages, but especially to pastors and Christian leaders. It marks the transition from the apostolic era and the writings of the New Testament to the early church fathers showing the spread of the Gospel throughout the Romans Empire, the many persecutions Christians suffered during this period, the great Christian leaders who led the way, including Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Athanasius, Augustine, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Anselm, Bernard, Gerard Groote, Thomas Kempis, John Wycliffe, John Hus, and many others. It also shows the development and formation of Christian doctrine in opposition to Judaism, Ancient paganism, and the many Hellenistic cults of that time as well as the Gnostic movement. By studying early church history in such detail you become thoroughly familiar with the Ancient Creeds as well as the great theological treatises of the church fathers in the defense of Christian doctrine. Christians also get a better understanding of the flow of world history and the great influence the Gospel and the church had upon the world with the evangelization of the western world, the rise of Christendom, and the kingdoms of the Middle Ages. You will also learn of the evils of Germanic and Norse paganism, the eventual apostasy of the medieval  Catholic church, and the need for reformation. There were great theologians during this period though that laid the groundwork for the Reformation, such as Augustine and later John Wycliffe. There were also great preachers during this era as well, such as John Chrysostom. There were great evangelists during this time, including Patrick of Ireland and Boniface. And there were also great and influential Christian kings, including Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian, Alfred the Great, and many others you have never heard of before that make even the best of American presidents to look like Liberals. The study of church history inspires virtue, valor, and greatness in believers and also provides great spiritual blessing when studied properly. It is a great tragedy of the modern church and contemporary Christian education that even most Evangelical and Reformed Seminary’s do not have a proper reverence and appreciation for the great works of Christ in the history of the church and the many valuable lessons that are to be learned from its study. So here is a brief overview with suggestions on how to study or teach a course in Early and Medieval Church History.

This suggested schedule and reading list is readily adaptable to all levels of education, Christian school or Home school, and is to be taught every 4 years; elementary, intermediate, high-school, college, and even Seminary level if so desired.

A Suggested Schedule for Studying Early Church and Medieval History:

                                                                 Church History                                                        World History

  • Week 1: Sept                       The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ                      Imperial Rome: Augustus to Tiberius (BC-33AD)
  • Week 2: Sept                       The Age of the Apostles 1: (33-50)                          Imperial Rome: Tiberius to Claudius (27BC-54AD)
  • Week 3: Sept                       The Age of the Apostles 2: (50-70)                          Imperial Rome: Nero to Vespasian (54-70AD)
  • Week 4: Sept                       The Apostolic Fathers 1: (70-150)                            Imperial Rome: Vespasian to Domitian (70-96AD)
  • Week 5: Sept                       The Apostolic Fathers 2: (70-150)                            Imperial Rome: Nerva to Hadrian (96-138AD)
  • Week 6: Oct                        The Apologists of the Early 2nd Century                 Imperial Rome: Pius to Marcus Aurelius (138-180AD)
  • Week 7: Oct                        Defending the Faith against Gnostics                      Imperial Rome: Commodus to Postumus (180-268AD)
  • Week 8: Oct                        The Western Church in the 3rd Century                  Imperial Rome: Gothicus to Diocletian (268-305AD)
  • Week 9: Oct                        The Eastern Church in the 3rd Century                   Roman Persecutions: From Nero to Diocletian
  • Week 10: Nov                      Constantine & the Council of Nicea (325)               Constantine 1: His Life & Reign (305-340AD)
  • Week 11: Nov                     Athanasius & the Trinity                                            Constantine 2: A Christian Revolution (305-340AD)
  • Week 12: Nov                     The Cappadocian Fathers of the East                      Imperial Conflicts & Controversies (340-379AD)
  • Week 13: Nov                     The Western Church of the 4th Century                 Theodosius 1: His Life & Reign (379-395AD)
  • Week 14: Nov                     The Eastern Church of the 4th Century                   Theodosius 2: Reformation of Empire (379-395AD)
  • Week 15: Dec                     Augustine: Life and Confessions                              The Decline of the Empire (395-420)
  • Week 16: Dec                     Augustine: Theological Works                                   Barbarians and the Fall of the West (420-476)
  • Week 17: Dec                     Leo and the Christological Controversies               The Barbarian Kingdoms (450-525)
  • 2 WEEK BREAK: DECEMBER 23 – JANUARY 5
  • Week 17: Jan                      Christian Orthodoxy vs. Catholic Heresy                The Eastern Empire before Justinian (450-527)
  • Week 18: Jan                      Benedict & the Rise of Monasticism                        The History and Legends of King Arthur (500)
  • Week 19: Jan                      Gregory the Great and Medieval Synthesis            Justinian and the Byzantine Empire (500-700)
  • Week 20: Jan                      The Conversion of the Barbarians                            Kingdoms of Early Medieval Europe (500-700)
  • Week 21: Feb                     The Early Medieval Scholars                                      The Rise & Threat of Islam (600-800)
  • Week 22: Feb                     The Rise of the Papacy & Catholic Orthodoxy       Charlemagne & the Carolingian Empire (750-900)
  • Week 23: Feb                     The Evangelization of Europe                                   The Norse Viking Invasions (800-1000)
  • Week 24: Feb                     The Spread of Eastern Orthodoxy                           Feudalism & the Holy Roman Empire (900-1000)
  • Week 25: Mar                    The Rise & Zenith of the Papacy                               The High Middle Ages: An Overview (1050-1270)
  • Week 26: Mar                    Bernard of Clairvaux & Monastic Reform               The 12th Century Renaissance (1100-1200)
  • Week 27: Mar                    The Monastic and Crusading Orders                       The Medieval Crusades (1095-1270)
  • Week 28: Mar                    Anselm & the Rise of Scholasticism                          Kingdoms & Conflicts in the High Middle Ages
  • Week 29: Apr                     Aquinas & the Flowering of Scholasticism              The Later Middle Ages 1: Kingdoms (1250-1350)
  • Week 30: Apr                     Dante & High Medieval Devotional Literature        The Later Middle Ages 2: Conflicts (1250-1350)
  • 2 WEEK SPRING BREAK: APRIL 14-27
  • Week 31: Apr                     Papal Decline & the Conciliar Movement                The Crisis of the 14th Century (1270-1380)
  • Week 32: May                    Forerunners of Reform: Wycliffe & Hus                   The Crisis of the 14th Century (1270-1380)
  • Week 33: May                    Chaucer & the Literary Renaissance in England     Europe in the Late Middle Ages (1380-1450)
  • Week 34: May                    Late Medieval Scholasticism (1300-1400)                The Hundred Years War – 2 (1337-1453)
  • Week 35: May                    Late Medieval Mysticism (1300-1400)                     The Holy Roman Empire in Decline
  • SUMMER COURSE: The Renaissance and the Age of Discovery
  • Week 36: June                    Late Medieval Catholicism and the Crisis of the Medieval World
  • Week 37: June                    The Renaissance as a Movement (1450-1550)
  • Week 38: June                    The Italian Renaissance: A Pagan Revival
  • Week 39: June                    Famous Men of the Italian Renaissance
  • Week 40: July                     The Age of Discovery 1: The Age of Exploration
  • Week 41: July                     The Age of Discovery 2: Columbus and the Discovery of America
  • Week 42: July                     The Age of Discovery 3: Cortez and the Conquest of the West
  • Week 43: July                     The Northern Renaissance: Thomas Kempis and the Devotio Moderna
  • Week 44: Aug                     The Northern Renaissance: Desiderius Erasmus and the Via Media
  • Week 45: Aug                    The Renaissance and Reformation: A Study in Contrast

A Suggested Booklist for Studying Early Church and Medieval History:

  • History Books for Children and Youth
  • World History for Christian Schools – Bob Jones
  • Wikipedia Articles on Historical Subjects
  • Lectures on Early Church History – Brett Woody
  • Christianity through the Centuries – Cairns
  • Blood of Martyrs – Leigh Churchill
  • The Birth of Europe – Leigh Churchill
  • The Age of Knights and Friars – Leigh Churchill
  • Portraits of Faithful Saints – Herman Hanko
  • Turning Points – Mark Noll
  • A Concise History of Christian Thought – Tony Lane
  • History Books for Students
  • World History for Christain Schools – Bob Jones
  • European Civilization – Ferguson and Braun
  • Wikipedia Articles on Historical Subjects
  • Lectures on Early Church History – Brett Woody
  • History of the Church – Philip Schaff
  • New Testament Backgrounds – Gresham Machen
  • Church History Vol.1, Everett Fergusson
  • A Short Life of Christ – Everett Harrison
  • New Testament History – Richard Niswonger
  • Pillars of Grace – Steven Lawson
  • The Story of Christianity, Vol.1 – Justo Gonzalez
  • The Early Church – Frend
  • The Rise of Christianity – Frend
  • The Early Church – Henry Chadwick
  • A Short History of the Early Church – Harry Boer
  • Early Christian Doctrines – J.N.D. Kelly
  • A History of Christian Doctrines – Louis Berkhof
  • A History of Christian Thought – Justo Gonzalez
  • The Story of Christian Theology – Roger Olson
  • Original Works of History and the Creeds
  • The History of the Church – Eusebius
  • Ecclesiastical History – Socrates Scolasticus
  • Ecclesiastical History – Sozomen
  • The Creeds of Christendom – Philip Schaff
  • Important Works of the Early Church
  • The Apostolic Fathers
  • The Works of Justin Martyr
  • Irenaeus – The Apostolic Preaching
  • Irenaeus – Against Heresies
  • Clement of Alexandria – Works
  • Origen – First Principles
  • Origen – On Martyrdom
  • Origen – Against Celsus
  • Tertullian – Works
  • Novatian – On the Trinity
  • Cyprian – Treatises and Letters
  • Hippolytus of Rome – The Refutation of All Heresies
  • Methodius – Treatises
  • Gregory Thaumaturgus – Declaration of Faith
  • Lactantius – Divine Institutes
  • Hilary of Poitiers – On the Trinity
  • Eusebius – Life of Constantine
  • Eusebius – Orations
  • The Council of Nicea (325)
  • Athanasius – On the Incarnation of the Word
  • Athanasius – Against the Heathen
  • Athanasius – On the Psalms
  • Ephrem the Syrian – Works
  • Cyril of Jerusalem – Catechetical Lectures
  • Gregory of Nyssa – On Prayer
  • Gregory of Nyssa – Theological Essays
  • Gregory Nazianzus – Theological Orations
  • Basil – On the Holy Spirit
  • Basil – Nine Homilies on the Hexaemeron
  • Basil – On Christian Education
  • The Council of Constantinople (381)
  • Ambrose – On the Christian Faith
  • John Chrysostom – Several Volumes of Homilies
  • Jerome – Letters
  • Prudentius – Hymns and Poems
  • Augustine – Confessions
  • Augustine – The Enchiridion
  • Augustine – On the Trinity
  • Augustine – The City of God
  • Augustine – Anyi-Pelagian Writings
  • Augustine – Harmony of the Gospels
  • Augustine – The Sermon on the Mount
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Christological Treatises
  • The Council of Ephesus (431)
  • Rufinus – Apology
  • Rufinus – Commentary on the Apostle’s Creed
  • Theodoret of Cyrus – Counter-Statements
  • Leo the Great – Sermons and Letters
  • The Council of Chalcedon (451)
  • Salvian – On the Government of God
  • Patrick of Ireland – Confession
  • Important Works of the Medieval Church
  • Boethius – The Consolation of Philosophy
  • Boethius – Three Theological Treatises
  • Benedict – The Monastic Rule
  • Selected Writings of Maximus the Confessor
  • Gregory the Great – Pastoral Rule
  • Gregory the Great – Homilies on Job
  • Isidore of Seville – Sentences
  • John of Damascus – Exposition of the Faith
  • Gottschalk – On Predestination
  • Anselm – Major Works
  • Bernard of Clairvaux – On Loving God
  • Benard of Clairvaux – Sermons on the Song of Solomon
  • Bernard of Clairvaux – On the True Knighthood’
  • Albert the Great – Loving God
  • Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica
  • Thomas Aquinas – Summa Contra Gentiles
  • Thomas Aquinas – Catena Aurea
  • Gerhard Groote – Following Christ
  • Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales
  • Thomas Bradwardine – On Grace and Predestination
  • Thomas Kempis – Meditations on the Life of Christ
  • Thomas Kempis – The Imitation of Christ
  • John Wycliffe – On the Truthfulness of Holy Scripture
  • John Hus – On the Church
  • Giralamo Savanarola – The Triumph of the Cross

Brett Woody, Pastor-Teacher