New Series: A Journey Through Church History

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I think I want this. (check the video below)

The epic story of the Catholic Church spans thousands of years. With an unlikely beginning in a remote outpost of the Roman empire, the Catholic Church now claims over a billion living members. The persecutions, martyrdoms, conquests, and triumphs all came together to shape Western civilization as we know it today.

Our identity as Catholics means that we are the inheritors of the deeds of holy men and women who for 2,000 years have built a great civilization and spread the Gospel throughout the world. Church history is not just the recitation of popes, people, places, and events; it is a story of adventure, intrigue, rebellion, reform, and devotion. This story is, in fact, our story; this is our family. If we know our past, and how we fit into the story, we will be better prepared to face whatever may come in the future. –

It’s available on their website here. If anyone has seen it, please let me know what you thought!

What you will learn…

* Learn about the major people, places, and events of the two-thousand years of Church history.
* Remember the 12 time periods of Church history using a unique color-coded system.
* Learn the true story of the Crusades.
* Understand the rationale for the medieval inquisitors and the Spanish Inquisition.
* Discover the revolutionary characters of the Protestant Reformation.
* Know the real story of the confrontation between Galileo and the Church.
* Discover the massive persecution of Christians in the twentieth century.
* Learn about the workings of the Holy Spirit throughout Church history
* And much more

16 comments Add comment

Fr. Gjengdahl April 14, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Our parish purchased this DVD set. The content is GREAT! However, the presentation is pretty rough. It seems to be modeled after the Great Adventure bible study from Jeff Cavins and I think this model works for Epic. But it is set in a church building and it is just video of the lectures and it is rather dull. I would recommend this, but it takes a commitment from the individuals who are watching it. Would I recommend that an individual purchase this, probably not. But I would recommend that every parish buy a copy and have a group viewing of this once a year.

wjb67 April 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm

300 bucks huh? Who wants to hook me up? I’m a poor, underemployed history teacher…

Lucy April 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm

We purchased the book, 2000 Years of Christianity, which contains all of the beautiful artwork displayed in this series, years ago. There is one painting for each century which depicts the main trials, saints and martyrs during that time period. I think it’s the same book with a new name and videos to go with it. The old version had an audio tape that accompanied it, and we listened to that in the car on trips and really enjoyed it.

As a homeschool family, we found the book to be very useful in teaching (and learning :) ) Church history. We took a large scroll of butcher block paper and spread it out on the floor. Each week my husband would read the short synopsis of one century and we would discuss the characters in the picture. The kids would then divide up the characters and reproduce them on our timeline with markers or colored pencils. We then had our own masterpiece timeline of Church history! :D

I would love to purchase the paintings and place them in every church vestibule. I contacted the artist about a year ago and she has one set of prints left, but our budget won’t cover it right now. I know my husband and I had no knowledge of Church history or the fact that people actually gave up their lives for our Church, even after years of Catholic schooling. We all need a better appreciation the treasure which has been so carefully passed down to us.

In Christ,

Joe Jordan April 15, 2010 at 6:43 am

Thanks Matt. Somehow we’re going to get a copy of this. Looks great!

Linda Bowen April 15, 2010 at 8:02 am

We purchased Epic from Acension Press when it went on sale last year. The cost was $240.00 . Get on their mailing list and they will send out e-mails when they have a sale.

Linda Bowen April 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

Our parish ,Immaculate Conception in Fort Smith Arkansas, purchased the program. We have about 17 people who meet every Monday evening. As mentioned above, the content is very good but the moderator stands at a pulpit lecturing. What we do to be more engaging is to have a pot luck each week and we have props which may be simply pictures of the time or the particular saints mentioned in the lecture. We also have discussion afterward. I wish the lecturer was as engaging as Jeff Cavins but it is history and that can be hard to liven up at times.

Linda Bowen April 15, 2010 at 7:59 am

i am waiting to see Fr Barrons “Catholicism Project ” released. I think it will be beautiful. Father Barron is so interesting.

Bull April 15, 2010 at 8:50 am

I Googled it and found their website. They have three videos posted and they are as Fr. Gjengdahl depicts above. I would state that the three videos they post talk about “history” that doesn’t seem to jive with other sources. OK, I only checked Wikipedia. St. Boniface and the Christmas tree seems to be more legend than fact, and the bit about the ships in the Battle of Lepanto lining up in crescent vs. cross formations doesn’t pan out either. I’m not saying that the series is a bunch of hooey, but if you’re going to post some example videos, would you want to put up two out of three that end up more legend than history?

Matthew Warner April 15, 2010 at 9:24 am

Thanks for all the feedback, all! That is very helpful info.

And yes, Linda, I’m a big fan of Fr. Barron and have been looking forward to his Catholicism Project for some time now!

Linda Bowen April 15, 2010 at 10:12 am

Covering the history of the faith in 20 lessons is impossible and I think that the object of the series is to highlight some lesser known traditions in addition to touching on key events. It is a program that is supposed to encourage further study. When we finish the series in 2 weeks, we are planning to do a 4 week study of the crusades. As far as the “shape of the crescent” in the battle. I will try to find the add’l sources we found that mentioned this.
From the Paulist website:
Did St. Boniface invent the The Christmas Tree? The specific origin of the Christmas tree is lost in the dim and distant past. It may have started when pre-Christian rituals involving evergreen boughs were merged with Christian celebrations and beliefs.
It seems to be generally recognized that the people who lived in what is now Germany were the first to develop the tradition of the Christmas tree.
One tradition is that about 1000 years ago, in Germany, St Boniface came across a group of pagans worshipping under and oak tree. He was so annoyed that he cut down the tree. To his surprise he found that a fir tree grew in its place and the fir was thereafter associated with the primacy of the Christian faith.
Martin Luther is credited with first placing candles on the Christmas tree. After his banishment from the Catholic church he spent a great deal of time walking through the forests of evergreen conifers thinking through his beliefs. The candles are said to have represented the stars which were seen by him through the trees

Linda Bowen April 15, 2010 at 10:15 am

I also agree with Fr. Gjengdahl that it may not be a good investment for individual study.

Steve Weidenkopf April 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Matt – Greetings. I’m the creator and presenter of the Epic: A Journey through Church History 20 part study series. Thanks for highlighting Epic on your blog. I wanted to respond to some of the comments left by your readers. Epic was designed as an adult faith formation program for parish groups – now that does not mean individuals can’t use the product – they can. Epic was published a little over a year ago (Feb. 09) and we’ve received positive reports from around the US and Canada from groups as well as individuals. Although most of the presentations involve my lectures – we did add graphics to the presentation – such as pictures of saints, maps, etc – in an attempt to give people something to look at other than myself. I also want to directly address the historicity comments from “Bull” – who implies Epic is not authentic history citing the two examples of St. Boniface and the Christmas tree and the battle formations at Lepanto. “Bull” admits he only consulted Wikipedia – which really isn’t an authentic source for historical data. The story of St. Boniface chopping down the Thunder Oak Tree of Thor in the village of Geismar is attributed in multiple sources including Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Fr. John Laux’s Church History and Warren Carroll’s The Building of Christendom (Vol. 2 of the History of Christendom series). As to the battle formation at Lepanto – the cruciform shape of the Christian fleet and the crescent shape of the Muslim fleet is attributed in the following works on the battle: The Galleys at Lepanto by Jack Beeching (the definitive source for the battle); Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley (a recent work) and Melvin Kriesel’s essay “The Battle” in Ignatius Press’ book “Lepanto” – which includes Chesterton’s poem on the battle. I hope this helps your readers recognize that authentic scholarship went into Epic and its material. Once again thanks for highlighting Epic on your blog.

God Bless,

Bull April 29, 2010 at 10:25 am

Steve, Jack Beeching is the *definitive* source? Really? He was a poet, not a historian. Few would consider his work to be “authentic scholarship.”
And the for the story of St. Boniface, I consulted the Encyclopedia of the Catholic Church at, which never mentions that legend.

I can’t question the scholarship of the entirety of the work that you have produced, but I question the limited pericope that you have provided. Couldn’t you have provided examples that were a bit more grounded on conventional historical scholarship? Our Church does have a fabulous history that deserves to be retold. If these two examples that I remarked about are indicative of the rest of the program, I think that you may have gotten lost in populist embellishments.

Steve Weidenkopf April 29, 2010 at 11:21 am

Bull – thank you for your follow-up comments. It appears that my listing of more than one source for the objections you raise is not satisfactory since you take issue with one source (Beeching) and reject the three I provided for St. Boniface. I assure you that authentic Catholic (and non-Catholic) historical scholarship was used in compiling Epic – indeed, Epic was reviewed and endorsed by Warren Carroll and Thomas Madden -internationally recognized scholars in their fields. I’m not certain what else may convince you that Epic is not “lost in populist embellishments.”


Bull April 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Fair enough. Thanks for taking the time to respond. It does speak well for you.

Peggy Cortez October 7, 2010 at 8:27 pm

My 11 year old son and I are working through the CD series and it is awesome. My son takes in what he can and asks questions (most of which are vocabulary and basic doctrine).
I love the fact that we are both learning at our own level!
There is a lot of info but it is so well organized.
I would recommend the CD series — absolutely!
In Christ,
Peggy and Pablo

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