A History of the Church: Trilogy
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By Philip Hughes
To survey the history of the Catholic Church is, in the words of Eamon Duffy, to be left with “a sense of the intractable complexity of the historical reality of the Church and its institutions.” To do justice to this complexity, Philip Hughes wrote an ambitious, three-volume survey of Church history—comprehensive in scope yet accessible in detail.
- Volume I: The Church and the World in Which It Was Founded dispenses with the chronological method, instead following the organic division of West and East and the development of the Church in those respective regions. In this “politically Roman and culturally Hellenic” world, Hughes treats the West through to the conversion of Constantine in the early years of the fourth century and the East up to the death of Justinian II in the eighth century.
Volume II: The Church and the World It Created, Hughes focuses on the West from the Augustinian moment and the conversion of Constantine, when the Church was just beginning to establish a civilization built on the new principles of the Gospel, and concludes with the capstone of the Medieval period: the triumphant genius of Saints Bonaventure, Albert the Great, and Thomas Aquinas.
- Volume III: The Revolt Against the Church surveys the critical period of 1270 to 1517 and the key figures and events which preceded the Protestant Reformation. In five meticulously detailed chapters, Hughes explores the political and theological crises at the end of the thirteenth century; the scandal of the Avignon Captivity and the relief of return to Rome; the Schism of the West; the terminus of the medieval and the genesis of the Renaissance; and, last, the Luther-led advent of reformation and revolt.
Across the varied stages of history, the Catholic Church has been an “all-present, unceasingly active institution.” As such, its history demands to be known. A History of the Church is a three-part magisterial response to that demand.
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Philip Hughes (1895–1967) was a Roman Catholic priest, ecclesiastical historian, and prolific author. After holding a professorship in history at St. Thomas College, he served as pastor at various English parishes, as archivist for the Archdiocese of Westminster, and as professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, where he concluded his career. In addition to the outstanding three-volume A History of the Church, his works include The Church in Crisis and A Popular History of the Reformation.