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Book Review


History of the Christian Church

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Author: Philip Schaff

Philip Schaff (1819-1893) was a German Reformed church historian, born in Switzerland. He was educated at Tubingen, Halle, and Berlin, and later took a position as Professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary, New York.

Schaff bases his work on the premise that church history in order to be valid and valuable must deal with three factors:

  • 1) God through Christ,

  • 2) man as a responsible moral creature, and

  • 3) Satan as a real being employing the Anti-Christ as his agent at the end of time.

Schaff begins his history with an examination of the preparation for Christianity in Judaism and the heathen world and the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

8 Volume Series

The 8 volume series concludes with a general introduction to modern church history and a thorough analysis of the productive period of the Reformation, tracing the Protestant movement in Germany and Switzerland to the close of the 16th century.

There are footnotes, charts, maps and each volume contains its own alphabetical index. Schaff taught church history at German Reformed Seminary in Mercersburg, Penn., and Union Theological Seminary in New York.

He was involved in the formation of the Evangelical Alliance, the revision of the English Bible (the Revised Version), and the Alliance of the Reformed Churches. Schaff was founder of the American Society of Church History. ____________________________

Review by: J. Courter  January 25, 2007)
                                                        Schaff's series is simply phenomenal. Why?  Highly detailed work with a marvelous synthesizing of human history and God's providence.  Most Christian historians forget that history isn't about spitting out facts.  History belongs to God, and Schaff's great insight combines these important aspects to create a work that hides from nothing and reveals everything. 

His narrative is almost poetical at times.  Schaff writes in a way that truly is beautiful.  At times I wanted to read to my wife certain portions because it was so exquisite.  It actually makes me disappointed in modern historical narrative.

All in all, Schaff is fair in not suppressing truth but being blatantly honest of the Church's history. 

Reading this series can be nothing short of having a powerfully captivating, realistically depicting, lovingly woven history of the Church. 

This series is a great aid to me in understanding why I am where I am at today, and where I can change to be faithful to the Word of God and His will for the Church. ____________________________

Copyright 2007 S.G.P. All rights reserved. 

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Photo: of the 8 Volume set of "History of the Christian Church" by Philip Schaff.

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Review by: Rev. Russell St. John (Kennewick, Washington)

It is a testimony to the brilliance of Schaff's work that it is a wonderful resource both for the reader who has no background in the history of the church as well as for the scholar. 

Schaff writes to be understood and is a wonderful and gentle teacher. His work is divided into small, well labeled sections, which allow the reader to digest history in easy to handle bites. 

He addresses history both topically and chronologically and has a true genius for organization. Charitable with saints and heretics alike, Schaff writes from a thoroughly Christian worldview. 

He exalts in the providence of God through history, showing how each episode in the life of the church served to advance God's purposes and magnify His glory. 

If you buy no other history of the Christian church, purchase this one. It is simply a masterpiece and a joy to read.  ____________________________

Review by: Frank Penha Alves de Melo (Brazil - October 24, 2000)

Shaffs's work is definitely one of the best works on church history!  It is almost complete! 

A suggestion: that you buy it if possible with the Creeds Of Christendom You will have one of the best views of Church history! 

I can speak because I bought the two sets!  Philip Schaff is prepared! Example: He edited the Post-Nicene Fathers! (14 Vols). ____________________________

Comment by: Monk Preston

I cannot state it better than by merely echoing the Rev. St. John (above). "It is simply a masterpiece and a joy to read."  This was definitely a "must have" for our monastery library. I have read the entire series twice so far.

-Monk Preston ____________________________

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