Expand your knowledge base on the origins of the Catholic faith with one of the best Catholic Church history books.
Catholic history involves the study of the church over time by highlighting the works of God, as well as key people and events that helped shape it. Given that the church is the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played an important role in the history and development of modern civilization. The Catholic Church consists of 24 particular churches and more than 3,500 dioceses and eparchies around the globe. The best Catholic Church history books can be a great way to enhance your understanding of the faith.
With this in mind, the editors at Lord’s Library assembled this list of the best Catholic Church history books to add to your reading list. The one that is right for you will largely depend on what aspects of Catholic Church history you are most interested in learning about and which level of Bible knowledge you already possess. Each listing includes author and publisher information, some basic facts about the title, and links to any alternative versions that may be available.
Note: We only included the best Catholic Church history books with a 4-star or better rating and a minimum of 100 reviews. Titles are organized by popularity at the time of our publication.
The Best Catholic Church History Books
Author/Publisher: James Hitchcock
From the publisher: “The history of the Catholic Church is long, complicated, and fascinating, and in this book it is expertly and ably told by historian James Hitchcock. As in the parable of Christ about the weeds that were sown in a field of wheat, evil and good have grown together in the Church from the start, as Hitchcock honestly records. He brings before us the many characters–some noble, some notorious–who have left an indelible mark on the Church, while never losing sight of the saints, who have given living testimony to the salvific power of Christ in every age.”
Author/Publisher: Thomas Bokenkotter
From the publisher: “Covering the life of Christ, the election of Pope Benedict XVI, and everything in between, A Concise History of the Catholic Church has been one of the bestselling religious histories of the past two decades and a mainstay for scholars, students, and others looking for a definitive, accessible history of Catholicism. With a clarity that will appeal to any reader, Thomas Bokenkotter divides his study into five parts that correspond to the major historical and epochal developments in Catholicism.”
Author/Publisher: Steve Weidenkopf
From the publisher: “In The Real Story of Catholic History, Steve Weidenkopf gives it to you. Professor Weidenkopf collects over fifty of the most common and dangerous lies about Catholic history and, drawing on his experience as a historian and apologist, shows how to answer them simply and powerfully. Whether it’s claims about Catholicism’s supposedly pagan origins, old myths about Galileo or the Inquisition that never seem to go away, or more modern misconceptions that anti-Catholics cynically exploit, The Real Story of Catholic History provides the desperately needed corrective.”
Author/Publisher: Steve Weidenkopf
From the publisher: “Timeless: A History of the Catholic Church is a fresh retelling of the history of the Church. In this easy-to-read, not-your-average history book, Steve Weidenkopf introduces you to the vivid, dynamic story of God’s work in the world since Pentecost. Along the way, you will meet the weird, wonderful, and always fascinating heroes and villains of the Catholic family tree. Author Steve Weidenkopf teaches Church History at the Christendom College Graduate School of Theology in Alexandria, VA.”
Author/Publisher: John Vidmar
From the publisher: “The Catholic Church through the Ages, now in its second edition, is a one-volume survey of the history of the Catholic Church from its beginning until (and including) the pontificate of Pope Francis. The book explains the Church’s progress by using Christopher Dawson’s division of the Church’s history into six distinct “ages,” or 350-400 year periods of time, each cycle beginning with great enthusiasm and advancement and ending in decline and loss. Writing with the experience of thirty years of teaching, the author has fashioned an ideal text that combines substance with readability.”
Author/Publisher: Hans Küng
From the publisher: “In this extraordinary book, the controversial and profoundly influential Hans Küng chronicles the Roman Catholic Church’s role as a world power throughout history. Along the way, he examines the great schisms—between East and West, and Catholic and Protestant—as well as the evolving role of the papacy, the stories of the great reforming popes, and the expansion of a global church infrastructure. The book concludes with a searching assessment of how the Catholic faith will confront the immense challenges posed in the new millennium by those seeking reform of traditional strictures.”
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