Rudolf Koch - Chi Rho

An Overview of Christian History
compiled by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Highlights from and Supplements to
People of God: The History of Catholic Christianity
by Anthony E. Gilles (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2000)

Rudolf Koch - Trinity

Jump to Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | Typos | Summary

The Main Stages of Christian History:

Gilles' Preface:

Ch. 1 - Introducing the Early Church (AD 90's - 380's)

Ch. 2 - The Early Church Defines Orthodox Christianity (AD 313 - 451)

Ch. 3 - The Fall of Rome and the Rise of the Western Church (AD 370's - 604)

Ch. 4 - Concluding the Age of the Church Fathers (AD 95 - 636)

Ch. 5 - Papacy and Empire Vie for Control of the Church (ca. AD 600 - 1150)

Ch. 6 - Catholics, Byzantines, and Muslims (AD 483 - 1054)

Feature: Western / Roman / Catholic Eastern / Byzantine / Orthodox
Dominant Language:



Religious Center: Rome (Central Italy) Constantinople
Imperial Capital (by 800's): Aachen (Northern Germany) Constantinople
Church Authority: Pope is the leader of all other bishops All Patriarchs/Bishops are equal
Church/State Relations: Church seeks to be independent Church influenced/controlled by State
Political Reality: Lots of small kingdoms, mostly separate;
"Holy Roman Emperor" rarely strong
One unified (but shrinking) Empire;
"Byzantine Emperor" sole leader
Muslim Influence: Little fear of invasion in Europe after 732;
Muslims control only Spain (less & less)
Muslims often threaten Eastern borders;
conquer more and more over time
Celebration of Eucharist: Daily "Mass" Weekly "Divine Liturgy"
Communion Bread: Unleavened Leavened
Clerical Celibacy: Required Optional (mostly for Monks)
Sacrament of Confirmation: Separate from Baptism;
Administered only by bishops
Together with Baptism;
Administered by any priests
Holy Spirit "proceeds" from "the Father and the Son" (filioque; added) "...the Father" (only; as in Creed of 381)
Sign of the Cross: four fingers; top/bottom/left/right three fingers; top/bottom/right/left
Religious Art: some use of paintings & statues elaborate use of icons, mosaics, etc.
Cultural Emphasis: law, order, practical matters theology, aesthetics, intellectual ideas

Common Cross Shapes:

Latin Cross Jerusalem Cross Greek Cross Russian Cross

Ch. 7 - The Vanishing Dream of Catholic Christendom (AD 1095 - 1377)

Ch. 8 - The Church's Intellectual Life (AD 735 - 1415)

Ch. 9 - Everyday Life in the Catholic Middle Ages (ca. AD 1150 - 1350)

Ch. 10 - The End of Catholic Middle Ages (ca. AD 1300 - 1500)

Ch. 11 - Entering the Age of Reformation (AD 1450's - 1520's)

Ch. 12 - The Reformation: Protestant Phase One (AD 1517 - 1555)

Martin Luther's Life The Catholic Church
1483, Nov. 10 - born in Eisleben, Germany .
1503 - enters Augustinian Order; scrupulous religiosity 1503-13 - Pope Julius II (begins building St. Peter's Basilica)
1507 - ordained a priest; .
1510 - visits Rome; shocked by Church's wealth & corruption 1513-21 - Pope Leo X (member of rich & powerful Medici family)
1517, Oct 31 - posts "95 Theses" on door of castle church in Wittenberg; attacks sale of indulgences and other abuses of Pope & Church 1516 - Johann Tetzel, OP, promotes indulgences all over Germany to help finance continuing construction of St. Peter's; later writes against Luther
1518 - hearing in Augsburg; refuses to recant his writings or teachings 1519 - Charles V crowned Holy Roman Emperor
1520 - writes "To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation"; "On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church"; & "On the Freedom of a Christian"
1520, Dec. 12 - publicly burns the papal bull, Exsurge Domine
1520, June 15 - Pope Leo X writes Exsurge Domine, a "bull" threatening Luther's excommunication;
1521, Jan. 3 - a second papal "bull" excommunicates Luther
1521, April 17 - civil trial at Diet of Worms; banned from H.R. Empire .
1522 - retreats to Wartburg Castle; translates Bible into German 1522-23 - Pope Adrian VI (attempts reforms, but soon dies)
1524 - opposes peasant revolt; tells princes to crush the "mad dogs" 1523-34 - Pope Clement VII (another Medici)
1525 - marries ex-nun, Katharina von Bora; fathers four children .
1529 - Luther publishes Large Catechism & Small Catechism .
1530 - "Augsburg Confession" written by Luther's associate Melancthon 1534-49 - Pope Paul III (begins serious reforms; calls Council of Trent)
1546, Feb. 18 - dies while visiting family in Eisleben, his hometown 1545-63 - Council of Trent
[1555 - Peace of Augsburg - "cuis regio, eius religio"] 1555-59 - Pope Paul IV (super-strict reformer)

Ch. 13 - The Reformation: Protestant Phase Two (AD 1520's - 1620's)

The Protestant Reformation spreads quickly throughout Central and Northern Europe (see the handout maps!), but splintered into many different factions or denominations, already during Luther's lifetime. The following were the earliest and/or largest groups:

Ch. 14 - The Reformation: The Catholic Phase (AD 1500's)

Ch. 15 - The Reformation: Its Bleak Aftermath (AD 1600's - 1700's)

Ch. 16 - The Church in the New World (AD 1492 - 1960)

Ch. 17 - The Church Reacts to the Modern World (AD 1770's - 1900's)

Ch. 18 - The Path of Protestantism (AD 1550's - 1880's)

Ch. 19 - The Age of Vatican II (AD 1890's - 1960's)

Ch. 20 - The Post-Vatican II Church (AD 1960's - today)

Ch. 21 - Visions and Boundaries (AD 1960's - today)

Typographical Errors in People of God:

Pg / Line #
Error: Correction:
2 / 20
presbuteros or priest presbuteros or elder
35 / 24
Benedict's, sister Benedict's sister (w/o comma)
37 / 10
Augustine, Athanasius, Jerome [Athanasius was Eastern, not Western; correct on p. 79]
48 / 16
See the map on page 49... [map does not show Aquitaine, Burgundy, Austrasia, etc.]
88 / 22
wondering poets wandering poets
135 / 33
Ignatius Loyola (1495-1556) (1491-1556)
136 / 3
Within twenty-five years of their founding Within sixteen years... (by the time Ignatius died, 1556)
157 / 9
Pierce named William Campbell the first... Pierce named James Campbell the first
198 / 9
1534 Ignatius Loyola founds... 1540 Ignatius Loyola founds...
198 / 15
1648 Thirty Year's War 1648 Thirty Year's War ends (began 1618)
Page #
Error: Correction:
Valentinian (364-375) Valentinian I (364-375) - also Valentinian II (375-392)
350: Arian Constantine II 350: Arian Constantius II
612: Muhammad establishes religion of Islam 622: Muhammad establishes religion of Islam
Teresa of Avila (182?) Teresa of Avila (1582)
1431: Council of Basle 1431: Council of Basel
1506: John Tetzel sells indulgences 1503 (or 1516): John Tetzel...
Francis II (France; 1559-1560) [listed twice]
1534: Society of Jesus founded... 1540: Society of Jesus founded... (correct on p. 136)
1577: Book of Concord prepared... 1580: Book of Concord prepared...


The Key Ecumenical Councils: (see Prof. Just's Ecumenical Councils webpage for their details & documents of each Council)

Date: 325 381 431 451 1215 1414-17 1545-63 1869-70 1962-65
Place: Nicea Constantinople Ephesus Chalcedon Lateran IV Constance Trent Vatican I Vatican II

Other Key Dates, People, and Developments in the History of Christianity: (in addition to the Ecumenical Councils listed above)
(see also Gilles, Focus 40, pp. 197-98)

[Note: The dates, people, and events in the following three columns do NOT exactly line up with the information in the same lines of the other two columns;
but each of the three columns is itself in chronological order.]

Other Key Dates: Key People: Key Developments:

The following dates do
exactly line up with
the names & events in
the columns at the right!]

4 BC
30 AD

50 / 70 / 90
64 / 250 / 300
312 / 313


Mary & Joseph of Nazareth
Jesus of Nazareth / Jesus Christ
The Apostles, esp. Peter & Paul
Emperors Nero, Decius, Diocletian
Emperor Constantine
Athanasius of Alexandria
Pope Leo the Great
Bishop Augustine of Hippo
Benedict of Nursia
{Prophet Mohammed}
Emperor Charlemagne
Pope Gregory VII
Pope Innocent III
Bernard of Clairvaux
Francis of Assisi
Dominic Guzman
Thomas Aquinas
Catherine of Siena
Martin Luther
John Calvin
King Henry VIII
Ignatius of Loyola

Teresa of Avila
John Wesley
John Carroll
Pope Pius IX
Isaac Hecker
Elizabeth Ann Seton
Pope Pius XII
Popes John XXIII & Paul VI
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Pope John Paul II
Pope Benedict XVI
Birth of Jesus
Life, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus
Gradual Separation of Christianity from Judaism
Persecutions of Christians by Rome
Constantine's Conversion & Edict of Milan
Early Christian Heresies, Councils, & Creeds
Rise of Papal Primacy
Fall of the Western Roman Empire
Growth of Monasticism (hermits, Benedictines)
Rise of Islam & Muslim Conquests
Iconoclast Crisis
Carolingian Renaissance
Great Schism (Eastern Orthodox vs. Western Catholic)
Lay Investiture Controversy
Gregorian Reform
Crusades (esp. First through Fourth)
Mendicant Religious Orders (Franciscans & Dominicans)
Scholasticism & Medieval Universities
Avignon Papacy (Babylonian Captivity of the Popes)
Western Schism (multiple rival Popes)
Late Medieval Crises (100 Years' War, Black Plague)
Renaissance & Humanism
Gutenberg's Moveable-type Printing Press
Protestant Reformation (Lutheran, Reformed, Radical branches)
Separation of the Church of England (Anglicanism)
Counter-Reformation (Jesuits & Council of Trent)
Religious Wars/Persecutions in Europe
Colonial Expansions in the Americas (N & S)
Religious Freedom, Diversity, Tolerance/Intolerance in N. America
French Revolution & Its Aftermath (Liberalism, Democracy)
Modernism & Anti-modernist Reactions
Catholicism & Anti-Catholicism in USA (before & after 1776)
Papal Encyclicals & Reform Movements before Vatican II
Second Vatican Council (final documents & implementation)

Some Broader Synthesizing Questions:

  1. How did Christianity begin? What were the roles of Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the other Apostles?
  2. How did the Roman Empire view and treat Christians (both positively and negatively) in the first 300 years?
  3. What were the effects of the Conversion of Constantine on the growth of Early Christianity?
  4. How did the first four Ecumenical Councils affect the development of Christian Theology?
  5. How did the Barbarian Invasions of the Western Roman Empire affect Christianity (in both West and East)?
  6. What was the impact of Charlemagne (both politically and culturally) on medieval Christianity?
  7. What factors (political & religious) caused the split between Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism?
  8. What were the high points (and a few problems) of Western Christianity in the 12th and 13th centuries?
  9. What were the major problems (and few good aspects) of Christianity in the 14th and 15th centuries?
  10. When & how did the Protestant Reformation begin, spread, and lead to the formation of separate churches?
  11. What was the Catholic reaction in the 16th cent. (both negatively & positively) to Luther's Reforms?
  12. What were the terrible consequences of the Reformation in Europe in the 17th to 18th centuries?
  13. Describe the diversity and developments of Protestant Christianity in N. America (pre- and post-Revolution).
  14. Describe the radical social changes of the 19th century and the Catholic Church's reaction (esp. by Pope Pius IX).
  15. What mid-20th century reform movements led up to Vatican II, and what were the main results of this Council?

GLOSSARY: For definitions of many of the following terms, see the glossaries and indices in the back of our textbooks: Gilles (pp. 229-34, 235-51) or Rausch (pp. 246-61, 273-82). For other terms, check a good published dictionary, or online resources like, or see the Biblical Glossary on Prof. Just's website.

Some Early Christian "Heresies": Adoptionism, Arianism, Docetism, Donatism, Gnosticism, Marcionism, Modalism, Monarchianism, Monophysitism, Nestorianism, Pelagianism, Subordinationism

Some Later Christian Groups and Denominations: Albigensians, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Baptists, Calvinists, Catholics (Roman), Episcopalians, Jansenists, Lutherans, Methodists, Orthodox (Eastern, Greek, Russian, etc.), Presbyterians, Puritans, Reformed Christians, etc.

Some Major Religious Orders within Catholicism (and their founders): Benedictines (St. Benedict of Nursia), Cistercians (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), Dominicans (St. Dominic Guzman), Franciscans (St. Francis of Assisi), Jesuits (St. Ignatius of Loyola), Paulists (Isaac Hecker), Sisters of Charity (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton), etc.

Subfields of Theology: biblical theology, christology, ecclesiology, ecumenism (ecumenical dialogue), eschatology, feminist theology, inter-religious relations (interfaith dialogue), liberation theology, liturgy, missiology, moral theology/ethics, pneumatology, soteriology, social ethics, spirituality, systematic theology, trinitarian theology, etc.

Some Biblical Terms: apostle, Bible, canon, covenant, evangelist, Gospel, Hebrew Bible, noncanonical books, New Testament, Old Testament, Septuagint, Synoptic Gospels, Torah, Vulgate (see also Prof. Just's "Biblical Glossary")

Other Important Terms used in Gilles:
anti-Catholicism, apology, apostate, apostle/apostolic, ascetic/asceticism, Assumption (of Mary), baptism, barbarian, basilica, bishop/episcopal, bishops' conferences, Byzantium/Byzantine, cardinals, Carolingian Reform, catechesis/catechumen, cathedral, Catholic/catholic/catholicity, celibacy, Christ/Messiah, Christendom, Church/church (4 meanings), clergy & laity, Concordat, contemplation (prayer), conversion, council/conciliarism, creed/creedal formulas, crusades, curia, deacon/diaconal, Desert Fathers, diocese/diocesan, Doctor of the Church, doctrine/doctrinal, dogma/dogmatic, dualism, ekklesia/ecclesial, Ecumenical Councils, encyclical (papal), episkopos/episcopal/Episcopal, Eucharist, evangelical, Evangelist/evangelist, evangelize/evangelization, excommunication, feudalism (lords & vassals), filioque, friars/mendicants, fundamentalist, Gospel/gospel, grace, heaven/hell, heresy/heterodox, hierarchy, Holy Spirit, homoousios, hypostasis & hypostatic union, icons/iconoclasm, Immaculate Conception, imprimatur, incarnation, indulgences, infallibility, Inquisition/inquisitor, inspiration, justification (by faith), kerygma, lay investiture, lectio divina, liturgy, local church, logos, martyrs/confessors, Mass, meditation, modernist crisis, monastery/monasticism, monks/hermits, nationalism, nepotism, ontological, Orthodox/orthodox, pagan, papacy/papal, parish, patriarch, patristic fathers/writings, penance, piety/pious devotions, pontiff, Pope, predestination, presbyter/elder, priest, primacy (papal), purgatory, real presence, reconciliation, reform/reformation, relics, religious (brothers/sisters/orders), Renaissance, revelation/Revelation, Roman Curia, rule of faith, Sabbath, sacrament, saint/sanctity, salvation, schism, Scholasticism, secular, simony, (four) solas of Protestantism, Syllabus of Errors, synagogue, synod, theocracy, Theotokos, Thomism, traditions/Tradition, transubstantiation, Tridentine, T.U.L.I.P., "works of the Law" vs. "good works"

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