Early Controversies and the Growth of Christianity
by Kevin W. Kaatz
February 2012, 163pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38359-5
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38360-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

If queried, many Christians would probably assert that Christianity was handed down unchanged from Jesus of Nazareth to the apostles, and through the bishops to the present day. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Christianity has been the subject of discussion, disputation, argument, and warfare from the very beginnings of the Christian movement.

This revealing history examines the controversies, maneuvering, and political wrangling that occupied the Christian Church for the first four centuries of its existence.

Drawing from primary texts, Early Controversies and the Growth of Christianity reveals how the religion was formed through a series of conflicts that occurred primarily between Christian groups. Presenting a close examination of the first four centuries of Christian history through the lens of the controversies that animated, disturbed, and finally formed the Church, the book will enable readers to become familiar with the lives and writings of the early Christians and to better understand the fascinating history of early Christianity.

The book focuses on several major early controversies. These include controversies surrounding the apostle Paul; controversies concerning the apostolic fathers, especially the idea of a pope and the role of the bishop/priest; Marcion and his influence; Manichaeism and Gnosticism; persecution and the Dontatists; Arianism; the rise of the bishop in the late 4th century; and power struggles between church and state. Each chapter focuses on the primary texts and key players in the battle over what would finally become orthodox Christianity, demystifying many poorly understood events that ultimately helped define today’s Church.


  • Maps of Paul's journeys, of the cities that Ignatius of Antioch visited, and of the Roman and Persian Empires
  • Photographs including Caravaggio's Conversion of Paul, the Chi-Rho symbol, the Arian Baptistry in Ravenna Italy, the Arch of Constantine, the Altar of Victory, and Van Dyck's Ambrose
  • An overall chronology and a separate chronology for each chapter
Kevin W. Kaatz, PhD, is lecturer in the Department of History at California State University, East Bay Campus, Hayward, CA. Kaatz coauthored (along with S.N.C. Lieu and translator M. Vermes, "Hegemonius, Acta Archelai" ("The Acts of Archelaus"), Manichaean Studies, Vol. 4, and a number of other articles on early church history and in the field of neurology.


"Kaatz (history, California State East Bay Campus, Hayward) offers a lucid guide to the texts, doctrines, and personalities defining what, by the early fifth century, became mainstream Christianity. . . . general readers and upper-division undergraduates in courses on early Christian history, personalities, and doctrines will benefit most from this handsomely produced volume. Summing Up: Recommended."—Choice, September 1, 2012
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