Mike Aquilina

What Would Casey Kasem Do?

Wednesday May 10th 2006, 7:55 am

A visitor named Simon tells me that I should post my “top ten books on early Christianity…No, make that twenty!” Well, I could call him on a technicality because he never said “Simon says.” But I won’t, because I can’t resist his temptation. So I publish this list, with all the usual disclaimers: I do not, of course, endorse everything every author says in every one of these books; nor do I necessarily root for their favorite football teams. I, after all, am a Pittsburgher. Not all of these books are, strictly speaking, books on the Fathers. But these are the books whose scholarship on the Fathers has (in the words of my pre-teen kids) rocked my world.

1. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought by Robert Louis Wilken.

2. The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries by Rodney Stark.

3. The Church of the Fathers by John Henry Newman.

4. The Spirituality of the New Testament and the Fathers by Louis Bouyer.

5. The Celebration of the Eucharist by Enrico Mazza.

6. In Procession Before the World: Martyrdom as Public Liturgy in Early Christianity by Robin Darling Young.

7. The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), vol. 1 in The Christian Tradition by Jaroslav Pelikan.

8. Face to Face: Portraits of the Divine in Early Christianity by Robin Margaret Jensen.

9. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them by Robert Louis Wilken.

10. Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought by Luigi Gambero.

11. An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by John Henry Newman.

12. Easter in the Early Church: An Anthology of Jewish and Early Christian Texts by Raniero Cantalamessa.

13. Patrology (four volumes) by Johannes Quasten.

14. Fathers of the Church by Hubertus Drobner.

15. Early Christian Doctrines by J.N.D. Kelly.

16. The Theology of Jewish Christianity by Jean Danielou.

17. In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity by Oskar Skarsaune.

18. Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition by Robert Murray.

19. Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy by Scott Hahn.

20. Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words by Rod Bennett.