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Annales Ecclesiastici (full title Annales ecclesiastici a Christo nato ad annum 1198 - ecclesiastical annals from Christ's nativity to 1198), consisting of twelve folio volumes, is a history of the first 12 centuries of the Christian Church, and was authored by Cardinal Caesar Baronius. It was first published between 1588 and 1607 as a response to the Lutheran Historia Ecclesiae Christi (History of the Church of Christ) in which the Magdeburg theologians surveyed the history of the church in order to demonstrate how the Catholic Church represented the Antichrist and had deviated from the beliefs and practices of the early church.
Long before Baronius was appointed Librarian of the Vatican in 1597, he had access to material and sources in its archives that were previously unpublished or unused. He utilised these in the development of his work. Accordingly, Annales Ecclesiastici is considered by most as extremely useful and complete. The eminent historian Lord Acton called it "the greatest history of the Church ever written". On the other hand, the atheist writer Joseph McCabe accused it of being "by no means critical; it is intensely Roman Catholic".
The first volume dealt with Gentile prophets, among whom were Hermes Trismegistus, the supposed author of the Corpus Hermeticum, and the Sibylline Oracles of Rome. Some Gentile prophets, it was claimed, had foreseen the Christ's birth. This was disputed by post-Reformation scholars, including Isaac Casaubon in his De rebus sacris et ecclesiasticis exercitationes, XVI.