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A Hstory Of The Councils Of The Church Volumes 1 to 5 by Charles Joseph Hefele D.D.

“NO portion of Church History has been so much neglected in recent times as the History of the Councils. With the exception of a few monographs on particular synods, nothing of importance has appeared on this subject in our days. It is high time that this state of things should be altered, and altered not by a mere adaptation of old materials, but by a treatment of the subject suited to the wants of the present day. This has become less difficult, inasmuch as new documents have been brought to light, and we live in an age when many errors have been abandoned, many prejudices have been put on one side, great progress has been made in critical studies, and a deeper insight into the development of the Christian Church has undoubtedly been gained.

“I have been employed for a good many years in the composition of a History of the Councils of the Church, which should be of a comprehensive character, and founded upon original documents. I may affirm that I have spared no pains to secure accuracy, and have done my best to consult all the literature which bears upon the subject.”

The hopes which Dr. Hefele thus expressed in his preface to the first volume of his History have been abundantly fulfilled. He has not only supplied an acknowledged want in his own country in a manner which leaves little to desire, but he has brought within the reach of all German scholars an amount of information in connection with the ancient councils which is to be found only in part even in those large collections of Hardouin and Mansi, which are seldom to be met with in private libraries. It is to be hoped that the interest manifested in that portion of his work which is translated in this volume may induce the publishers to carry it forward at least to the close of the fourth Œcumenical Council.

The Translator was at first in doubt as to the best form in which to present this History to the English public,—whether in the form of a paraphrase, in which case it must have been almost an original work, or as a simple translation. Various considerations induced him to adopt the latter course. There was little difficulty in doing so, as Dr. Hefele’s German style, unlike that of many of his Protestant fellow-countrymen, is generally lucid and intelligible. The Editor, when he first undertook the work of preparing the History for English readers, intended to add a number of notes from writers who regard the subject from a different point of view. This he afterwards found to be unnecessary, and the additional notes are accordingly very few. Dr. Hefele is so fair in the statement of facts, that every reader may very easily draw his conclusions for himself.

All possible care has been taken to make the references and quotations correct. It is almost certain, however, that slight mistakes may still be found in these pages; and the Editor will gratefully receive any corrections which may be forwarded to him, and make use of them should a second edition of the work be called for.

W. R. C.








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