Documents of the Rise of Christianity
by Kevin W. Kaatz
March 2019, 244pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5430-9
$103, £80, 90€, A142
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5431-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

There were many competing sects of Christianity in the first five centuries CE.

An introduction to the history of early Christianity, this reference provides roughly 60 primary source documents from the first five centuries of the Christian Era, each accompanied by explanatory material.

Christianity has been one of the most powerful influences on world history, and for this reason the world of the early Christians figures prominently in film, fiction, and popular culture. The first centuries of Christianity provided the foundation for the faith institutions of today; this book examines the history of early Christianity through its use of primary texts written by early Christians. In doing so, it helps readers to understand that multiple sects of Christianity competed for dominance, and it sheds light on the struggles of early Christians that their differences entailed.

The book covers the first five centuries of the Christian Era, with sections devoted to each century. Some 60 primary source documents appear within those sections, and each is accompanied by background information. This chronological arrangement helps readers to understand how Christianity evolved over time, and it provides insights into the theological debates and persecutions that marked the lives of early Christians and characterized the early Church.


  • Offers a guide that helps readers to understand how to study primary documents critically
  • Provides an introduction of the history of the early Christian Church
  • Highlights a timeline of key events in the early history of Christianity
  • Features sections on the first five centuries of the Christian Era that encompass primary source documents, accompanied by headnotes and suggestions for further reading
Kevin W. Kaatz is assistant professor of ancient history at California State University, East Bay Campus. He specializes in Roman history and the digital humanities, and in particular, early Christianity and its interactions with Roman culture and among different Christian groups. His publications include several books on early Christianity, and he is coauthor of Praeger’s Citizen Internees: A Second Look at Citizenship and Japanese American Internment Camps, which was named a Choice "Outstanding Academic Title" and one of the "Top 20 Community College Resources" for 2017.


"Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers."—Choice, September 1, 2019

"An excellent addition to any theology or religion collection related to Christian primary source studies."—ARBA, April 1, 2019

Eyewitness to History

ABC-CLIO’s Eyewitness to History series provides primary documents accompanied by invaluable contextualizing information to help readers understand historical developments, events, and individuals. The books’ format allows for a remarkable range of documents that showcase a wide variety of perspectives, including personal narratives, letters, and first-hand accounts; newspaper stories, op-ed pieces, and contemporary reactions and responses; and government and legislative documents, such as laws, speeches, and court testimony.

Each title in the series offers a fascinating documentary history devoted to a significant era, event, or social movement. The carefully curated primary sources give the actual words of people who lived through these past times, empowering today’s readers and researchers to consider the topic critically, fairly, and intelligently.
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