Item description for Church History: An Essential Guide (Essential Guide (Abingdon Press)) by Justo L. Gonzalez & J. L. Gonzalez...
Overview Looking for a church history refresher? Gonz<\#225>lez, renowned church historian, gives you a substantive overview in this handy guide. By providing a broad sweep through the main periods in Christianity (from 313 A.D. to today)---then offering suggested readings to peruse in depth---Gonz<\#225>lez helps you focus your thoughts on more specific areas of study.
One of the chief difficulties in studying the history of Christianity is the lack of prior exposure to the subject that students often bring with them. Struggling to keep up with the large numbers of names, dates, and places presented to them, it is easy for students to lose sight of the "big picture," the broad sweep of movement and change that instructors most wish to communicate. Justo Gonzalez has written this book to help students gain just such a quick and basic grasp of the main periods and issues in the history of Christianity. Drawing upon his own extensive experience and that of others, he contends that having been introduced to the essentials of church history in a brief and accessible form, students are far better able to understand and appreciate what they encounter in more detailed lectures and reading.
Gonzalez provides a comprehensive opening chapter that summarizes major issues and concerns of each of the principal eras of church history. Subsequent chapters focus on the ancient church, the Christian empire, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, and the twentieth century and the end of modernity.
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Studio: Abingdon Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.8" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.3" Weight: 0.35 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2001
Publisher Abingdon Church Supplies
Series Essential Guide - Abingdon
ISBN 0687016118 ISBN13 9780687016112
Availability 0 units.
More About Justo L. Gonzalez & J. L. Gonzalez
Justo L. González, a retired member of the Río Grande Conference of the United Methodist Church, went to college and seminary in Cuba before receiving postgraduate degrees from Yale University. He taught at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He played a key part in the founding of the Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana and of the Hispanic Summer Program. He was also the first executive director of the Hispanic Theological Initiative. Justo has published more than one hundred books, as well as hundreds of articles, and edited the journal Apuntes for twenty years.
Justo L. Gonzalez currently resides in Decatur, in the state of Georgia.
Justo L. Gonzalez has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Church History: An Essential Guide (Essential Guide (Abingdon Press))?
An excellent refresher May 20, 2008
If you are looking for a very brief overview of church history written by an expert in the field, you could do much worse than Justo Gonzalez's 95-page paperback, Church History: An Essential Guide.
Gonzalez is familiar to many, especially via his very readable two-volume The Story of Christianity (1984-85) as well as his three-volume A History of Christian Thought (revised in 1987). I should mention also a helpful reference tool, Essential Theological Terms (2005).
Church History: An Essential Guide is helpful for its concise yet complete overview. After having taken various church history courses, the last being about 8-10 years ago, I found this volume beneficial as a refresher to remind me of the big picture. As if 95 pages wasn't a short enough span in which to compress 2000 years of history, Gonzalez actually opens with a 10-page high-level overview of church history, then uses that overview to structure the rest of the volume. Helpful lists of suggested readings follow each chapter. A deficiency is the absence of any maps or charts.
I am not recommending this volume as a quick fix for ignorance of church history. It would be helpful, though, as a refresher volume for a busy pastor (or college / seminary professor whose field is not church history) to help cement the big picture of church history in one's mind. I also suspect it would be valuable for a novice -- it's the sort of thing that might be good to assign as preliminary reading for, say, a one- or two- semester course in church history or history of Christian thought.
A Response to Rev. Michael J. Quist Jan 26, 2008
This review was originally a comment left under Rev. Michael J. Quist's review, but I felt it necessary to include it as a review. (See also Louis A. Decaro Jr's helpful comment which I have included at the end of my review.)
First, I just wanted to say that for 95 pages, this little outline packs a punch. Anyone who has read more from the same author is appreciative of the scholarship and scope that goes into his work. As such, the author's ability to provide a framework on the annals of Christian development is extremely valuable in that he gives you the big picture first. Such an introduction to the subject is extremely helpful for those who have a hard time trying to process dates and learning names without first having an answer to the question "Why is this relevant?" Now, on to Rev. Quist's review.
Quist is alluding to some invisible, unexplained standard of what should "spark the imagination." As I see it, anyone who isn't using the book for the express purpose of "prepping" him or herself for further research in the first place is, perhaps, guilty of intellectual pretense, i.e., trying to gain a little knowledge with the vested interest of claiming to be an expert on Church History...because, after all, they just read chapter 6 titled "Conquest and Reformation" [which encompasses all of 10 pgs., including a suggested reading list and a lot of unused white space on page 76]--and now they can tell you (in a nutshell) what the Reformation was all about.
If one doesn't pick up where this small text leaves off, it isn't the author's fault; it's the reader's for failing to follow up what was the author's clarion clear intention--continuing Church Hist. research using the present text as "an essential guide." (The author states plainly on page 9: "Since this book is no more than an outline, it is suggested that you choose at least one of the surveys [suggested readings] and use it to amplify what is said here. Again, this book should not be used as a substitute for those fuller surveys, but rather as a guide to them.") And as for the claim that the text fails to whet the interest of the reader towards further study, the author of a text like this never has that responsibility; in fact, the author assumes this has been done already. Justo Gonzalez simply meets the interested student and guides him or her through the rudiments of what should be expected along the historical journey.
As such, I fully agree with the comment left by Louis A. Decaro Jr. under Rev. Quist's review--which I include now:
"With all due respect to Rev. Quist, to fault this book for supposedly failing 'to spark the imagination or to challenge the reader to do further research' is highly subjective and certainly unfair. This is more than a 'decent attempt' by an excellent scholar and prolific contributor to Christian academics and spirituality. Why would anyone presume that a guide and overview has the burden of sparking imagination and challenging readers to do further research, and who says this work fails in this regard anyway? This book does more than 'suffice' it serves us well and will not be excelled in any significant manner, only complemented by future efforts."
In my honest opinion, the comment is as warranted as it is well said.
Good but not Excellent Summary. Needs Maps! Aug 26, 2006
`Church History, An Essential Guide' by theological historian, Justo L. Gonzalez is a very good introduction to the history of Christian churches in the context of concurrent political history. One also has the assurance that the work will, as far as it goes, be very accurate, as the author has also written several `full length' histories of both Christian churches and Christian theology. Therefore, this book is a condensation of well-received longer volumes.
This history walks the fine line between political and doctrinal history. The author divides the last 2000 years into nine periods which are largely demarked by political events such as the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity, the Schism between the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) churches, the French Revolution, and the First World War.
Two things with the organization of the book are just a bit odd. The first is that in spite of the very slim size of the book, it is actually divided into a main narrative and an even briefer summary of the author's nine periods. The second is the fact that while the author uses numerous maps and tables in his longer work, `The Story of Christianity', none of these aids to effective synopsis appear in this work.
While I really feel the need for a book of this type, I think it is just a tad too short. One thing which could have been improved without enlarging the book too much was a clearer statement of doctrinal differences between Christian orthodoxy and the various heresies such as Gnosticism and Arianism. A bit of tabular presentation, as I have seen in other church histories would have gone well together with a few maps.
The author has very nicely included a bibliography at the end of each chapter and modestly avoided any references to his own larger books. I'm just a bit puzzled why the author did not include J.N.D. Kelly's `Early Christian Doctrines' in his bibliography, but I guess that's because this book really doesn't deal in any depth with doctrine.
A very nice guide to put major doctrinal changes in an historical perspective.
A Nice, Brief Overview Sep 13, 2005
This was a nice, brief (very brief) overview of the history of Christianity. It sparked an interest in history that I never thought I had before, and it laid the groundwork for the history courses that I will have to take at some point. I recommend it for those that don't know much about church history and wish to learn as well as for those that might be taking an intense course in church history.
The best chuch history overview I've found under 100 pages Aug 3, 2005
If you're truly interested in church history, this should not be the only church history book that you read. I don't even think it should be the first church history book you read. But I do think that the more church history you read, the more you will appreciate how the author has distilled the most important events and people in church history over the past 2000 years into a concise book.
This book is written by an author whose name I kept coming across as I've been purchasing and reading church history books over the past couple of years, and although I haven't read his two volume church history work, I was glad to see that he'd also written such a small, approachable book. Reading this book gave me a sense of what events and people are generally regarded as the most important ones to focus on, and it gave me a framework to understand all the details that I had come across in all the other books.
If you're looking to get a graduate degree in church history, this book will probably be useless to you. But if you're just a person of faith who needs some help sifting through the massive amount of history for a few key historical names and events, this book will give you good points of reference for further reading and study.
(By the way, if you're interested in church history details, there are a lot of resources online as well, such as: http://chi.gospelcom.net/centuries/ but, like I said, this book will help give you a framework to understand all the details.)