Church history anthologies of men and women from all over the world in story format for middle grades and up!
Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History by Richard Hannula. Canon Press, 1999. 294 pages.
*Radiant: Fifty Remarkable Women in Church History by Richard Hannula. Canon Press, 2015. 330 pages.
Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12
Recommended For: Read aloud to ages 8 and up; independent reading for ages 10 and up
Did you know the first Christian queen in England was Bertha, from France? Or that Pandita Ramabai, a young nineteenth-century Indian woman who spoke 8 languages, was ministering to widows and children in India long before Amy Carmichael? What about Charlemagne–was he a Christian king? Hannula covers an impressive number of people in these two anthologies, and he does so honestly and enthusiastically. Hannula includes both the individual’s praiseworthy traits as well as sometimes alluding to his or her faults; the result is a well rounded collection that reminds readers that the Lord uses sinners just like us to build his kingdom. Christians from all over the world are included, too, particularly in the more recent historical time frames.
Hannula has given the church a gift in these two books, each full of mini biographies of faithful Christians who have gone before. The two work in tandem with each other, hence this joint review. Trial and Triumph includes stories of both men and women, although there are more men covered than women. Radiant, as the title indicates, covers only women. There is surprisingly little overlap between the two. Both books begin with the early church and move chronologically forward. Readers can pick and choose or simply read straight through. These books make excellent material for family devotions and read aloud time, for Sunday school teachers, and for Christian schools. If a family or school is studying history chronologically, it would be easy to read a corresponding chapter in one or both of these titles. If that approach is taken, each of these books would last for several years, read in small chunks. But both are also short enough to be read as a regular biography, from start to finish over the course of several weeks. Radiant, in particular, is an excellent resource; it is unusual to find works on women in the church that are written from a traditional standpoint, are scholarly, and highlight the many ways in which the Lord has used women in his kingdom.
Cautions: Violence (Christians’ persecution and martyrdom, while not glamorized, is, of necessity, covered)
Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Worldview Rating: 5
Artistic Rating: 4.75
A copy of Radiant was provided by the publisher free of charge in return for a fair review.