In commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the American Society of Church History, this monumental compilation of historiographical scholarship calls on 10 eminent specialists to review significant achievements that over the past century have shaped current understanding of the multifaceted church.
The book inevitably honors the memory of Philip Schaff, the great 19th century church historian who laid the foundations of the discipline in America and in 1888 founded the ASCH. In examining the major subfields of church history, many of which Schaff pioneered himself in the U.S., the essayists explore such topics as early Christianity, the medieval church, the Reformation, American religious liberty, creeds and liturgies, and ecumenism.
The anthology includes David W. Lotz, "Philip Schaff and the Idea of Church History"; Robert M. Kingdon, "Reformation Studies"; John F. Wilson, "Civil Authority and Religious Freedom in America: Philip Schaff on the United States as a Christian Nation"; and Aidan Kavanagh, "Liturgical and Credal Studies"; Henry W. Bowden, "The First Century: Institutional Development and Ideas about the Profession"; Glenn F. Chesnut, "A Century of Patristic Studies, 1888–1988"; Bernard McGinn, "The Gold of Catholicity": Reflections on a Century of American Study of Medieval Church History"; Jay P. Dolan, "Immigration and American Christianity: A History of Their Histories"; Gerald H. Anderson, "To the Ends of the Earth: American Protestants in Pursuit of Mission"; and John T. Ford, "Ecumenical Studies."
The topics addressed in this book are the major concerns of church history today. The essays provide a critical survey of major developments in the different fields over the past century, discussing the scholars and publications that brought new information to light or changed the general understanding of church history by contributing fresh interpretations. In bringing readers up to date in church history by surveying benchmark contributions in each of the special areas surveyed, the contributors seek to orient historians and stimulate colleagues toward further investigation of a common past.
A common thread running through all of these essays, Bowden notes, "is the recognition that we are heirs to a major change in historical self-understanding. Over the course of a century we have moved from views where history taught lessons of exclusivist rectitude to an appreciation of shared heritage and mutual development." Two appendixes provide extensive historical data about the society itself.