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Good Books on Constantinople II and Constantinople III

September 5, 2006

One of our readers emailed us requesting references on the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils: Constantinople II and Constantinople III. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of literature on these council available in English as they tend to be eclipsed by the more substantial Christological councils, namely Ephesus and Chalcedon.

Here are the best books which have substantial sections on Constantinople II and III that I have read:

Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, vol 2.2: The Church of Constantinople in the Sixth Century

–Grillmeier’s 2 vols of historical Christology are the best out there. To this day, I still do not know why he is not promoted by popular Catholic authors.

Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, vol 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) and vol 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700).

–Pelikan is arguably the greatest Church historian of the 20th century, and he offers perhaps the very best comprehensive history of Christianity in the 5 volumes of his The Christian Tradition.


Leo Donald Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology.

–A clear and precise introduction to the crucial Ecumenical Councils of the early Church. I highly recommend that every student of Church history acquire a copy of this work.

Norman Tanner, The Councils of the Church: A Short History.

–This short book is an excellent introduction to the history and theology of the Ecumenical Councils. Tanner has also edited and published all the official decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, from Nicaea to Vatican II, in English and Latin, so as you can imagine, he knows his stuff.

Other good books that touch on Contantinople II and III are Joseph Ratzinger’s Behold the Pierced One and Donald Goergen’s The Jesus of Christian History.

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