Can you suggest some good study material for events that happened in the first century that are not recorded in the Bible. i.e. Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, Paul's execution, Peter's execution, the fire in Rome, etc. -- Angela Davis (Atlanta)

How do you find out about the customs of the 2nd century church? Where is all this juicy information located? By the way, the word for something outside the Bible is "extrabiblical," from extra (outside) + biblical. I would like to recommend some helpful books which connect you with some great extrabiblical sources:

* Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers - 38 vols. (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1995). This is "the works" probably over 15,000 pages of source material from the late first to the late eighth centuries! It is available in book form or even on CD.
* Barrett, C.K., The New Testament Background: Selected Documents (New York: Harper & Row, 1961).
* Berçot, David, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity (Tyler, Texas: Scroll, 1989). This is a light and enjoyable read.
* Bruce, F. F., Jesus & Christian Origins Outside the New Testament (Toronto: Hodder & Stoughton, 1984). I have found this little book to be invaluable!
* Bruce, F. F., The Spreading Flame: The Rise and Progress of Christianity from its First Beginnings to the Conversion of the English (Carlisle, England: Paternoster, 1958).
* Dowley, Tim., Ed., A Lion Handbook: The History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990). May be hard to get hold of, but it is both compendious and readable.
* Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (New York: Penguin, 1965). Eusebius was Bishop of Caesarea and historian at the court of the Emperor Constantine.
* Green, Michael, Evangelism in the Early Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970). Excellent.
* Lightfoot, J. B., Tr., The Apostolic Fathers, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989). This is a must!
* Noll, Marl A., Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997). I would recommend this book as well, even though it has relatively little on the earlier period.
* Stevenson, J., Ed., A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church to A.D. 33 (London: S.P.C.K., 1957). You will be able to go through the scraps and piece together a good rough idea of how things changed and where they ended up.

May God bless us all as we continue to build our "libraries"! This of course requires a positive attitude towards books. I like the sentiment of Erasmus (16th century reformer), who said something to this effect: "Whenever I get money, I buy books. If there's anything left over, then I buy food and clothes." The apostle Paul too had a great devotion to his books, even during his final months on earth. He instructed Timothy, When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas and my scrolls (or books), especially the parchments (2 Timothy 4:13).

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