The history of the Church from the origins to the 21st century

Here is a journey through twenty-one centuries of Church history.

What are the main features of his historical approach and his method?

First, do not separate the history of the Church from the general history of humanity. Christians live in the world and many political, social and economic events have determined the life of the Church. Then, use all traces of the past: buildings, works of art, archaeological excavations. Finally, present written sources directly to readers. This volume gives as important a place to texts from the past as to the presentation of events. And it offers keys to situating the texts, understanding them, appreciating them.

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Table of content:
  • The birth of the Church
  • Christians in a world that does not understand them (1st-3rd century)
  • Being a Christian in the first centuries (1st-3rd century)
  • The Church in the Christian Empire (4th-5th century)
  • The formation of the creed (4th-5th century)
  • The Fathers of the Church
  • The high middle ages
  • Christianity: the foundations of a society (end of the 11th-13th century)
  • Expansion, contestation and defense of Christianity (late 11th-13th century)
  • The autumn of Christianity (14th and 15th centuries)
  • Renaissance and reform (late 15th-16th century)
  • The Catholic revival (16th-17th century)
  • The evangelization of the world (15th-18th centuries)
  • The Church in the time of enlightenment and revolution (18th century)
  • Restoration and liberalism (1815-1870)
  • Secularization, religious defense, pluralism: the churches in political society from 1870 to 1939
  • A Christianity on global dimensions (1800-1940)
  • The weight of modernity
  • From the Second World War to the Council (1939-1958)
  • The Church of Vatican II (1958-2000)

About the Author:

Jean Comby was a professor at the Faculty of Theology of Lyon; he is the author of Pour lire l'histoire de l'Église (Paris, Cerf), which has just seen a new edition in September 2003 in a single volume. His fellow theologians and historians, academics in Lyon, devoted a morning, in 2001, to rereading and highlighting his work, in his presence: this is the subject of this little work. We therefore find valuable biographical information, and the list of his publications, as well as the unpublished text of the doctoral lecture delivered in 1991 during the defense of his doctorate in theology “Religious history, history of the Church and theology”

All the speakers underline that Jean Comby's works are "a model of clarity and pedagogy", according to Claude Prudhomme's formula: he takes care of his writing, and he provides access to the sources. Because its first listeners and readers are Christian teachers in public education, as well as catechists at IPER. The author of 2000 Years of Evangelization (Desclée, 1992), one of the co-founders of Credic with Jacques Gadille, explains that he became interested in the history of the missions because the African Missions of Lyon asked him for this teaching. . This Tribute also allows us to see how much the author was requested in his work, by the orders which were given to him, and by his presence in the city of Lyon which he has not left. Having become a generalist, J. Comby therefore has no particular historical “territory”, except in this permanent relationship between history and theology: his first course at the Faculty of Theology was entitled: “Initiation to theology from history contemporary”.

Christian Ponson, “History in Christianity. Homage to Jean Comby, Texts brought together by Jacques Gadille and Daniel Moulinet, Lyon, Profac, 2002, 115 p. », Christians and societies , 11 | 2004, posted online on March 17, 2011, consulted on March 31, 2016. URL: