Quoted from the author's "Preface."
"It is difficult to indicate in a title the purpose and the achievement of this work. It is not a history of Christianity, but a connected series of translations of documents or odd pages of
works which have a vital bearing on that history, yet have, with a very few exceptions, never before been translated into English. It will have occurred to many that, while there has in recent decades been much industry in translating historical documents, these are very rarely works which may disturb the conventional estimate of the value of Christianity to civilization. The general public are still unable to read the books from which older and more candid historians, like Dean Milman, quoted suggestive passages, usually leaving them in the tantalizing shroud of a dead language, or the letters and reports which such experts on the
mediaeval Papacy as Dr. L. Pastor and Dr. Von Ranke relegated, untranslated, to Appendices."
"It is a convenient arrangement for the professional apologist. From the hundreds of documents that are thus protected from the profane eye he can select the little that is calculated to edify, and ignore the much that throws too lurid a light upon contemporary life. But this prevents the general reader, who hears only the witnesses for the defence, from attaining sound judgment on an issue in which he is deeply interested: the inspirational
value and the achievements, from a social point of view, of the Christian religion. I have had occasion, in writing forty or fifty historical works, to spend many days in this forbidden territory and have translated hundreds of short passages for my readers. Although I have been scrupulously careful never to isolate a sentence from a context which might modify its apparent meaning, many readers would like to have a translation in full of relevant passages as short documents. Here I present to English readers all the passages of primary interest from the first century to the nineteenth."