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Church History Volume1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation A Review

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Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute (www.desertbibleinstitute.com).

There was only one overwhelming problem with Everett Ferguson’s book Church History Volume1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. He waited until I was out of school to write it.

Right from the onset, I was impressed with this book. I remember, from my years back in college in the 80s, my history texts being filled with double rows of tiny type. I remember authors drowning on-and-on with circuitous sentences riddled with both archaic terms and unpronounceable jargon. Here instead is a book with beautiful graphics, relevant illustrations and photos, clearly identifiable, related materials, and an obviously coherent structure. I actually leaned over to my wife while reading this, who recently finished her advance degree in education, and she was shocked at how much thought, about the way students learn, was given to the structure of this book.

The wording of this book is as clear and well-organized as the format and the typeface. It is an unusually comfortable book to read. The author and the publisher obviously took time to proof the sheets in a way that allows the eye to flow over the page. This allows for both a faster and more relaxed reading of the text and therefore giving the student a higher retention of the material.. Additionally, the numerous maps, illustrations, and photos were place in locations in which to optimize their effectiveness. The visuals used were large, clear, and always relevant to the topic being discussed.

Ferguson writes in a clear, professional style that is both accessible and academically challenging. He uses a recursive structure from chapter-to-chapter that is useful in seeing how a given instance in history had multiple repercussions on the modern day church. The only challenge to this is that he early on develops an information base and then steadily builds on it. The problem would be if professors skipped around in the book (not all that uncommon of a practice) they would need to be careful to explain some of the terminology or references that the author is making.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite parts of this books was the shaded margins that the author uses to add relevant but disconnected material. In this section, the author puts in quotes, verses, little know facts, and other forms of enrichment material that wasn’t necessary to understand the narrative of the text but was nonetheless interesting and engaging. When there wasn’t much in the way of additional material the author would occasionally use this space to overlap pictures part in and part out of the text proper. This, in combination with the myriad other formatting issues, makes this book perfect for the visual learner. It was a great pleasure to read a book that written by an author aware enough about metacognition to format a book in a manner that facilitates better learning.

Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.

Desert Bible Institute, President

Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert Bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit  Dr. Nicholson’s blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.

The book for this review was provided free of charge by Zondervan through NetGalley.com. This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley.com for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to  provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and not DBI, NetGalley.com, or the publisher.

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