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Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
Penguin Putnam Inc. / 2011 / Paperback
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The Definitive account of Christianity in our time.
A product of electrifying scholarship conveyed with commanding skill, Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years goes back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible and encompasses Christianity's spread across the globe. It captures the major turning points in human history and fills in often neglected accounts of conversion and confrontation in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
It uncovers the roots of the faith that galvanized America, charting the surprising beliefs of the founding fathers, the rise of the Evangelical movement and of Pentecostalism, and the recent crisis within the Catholic Church. Bursting with original insights and a great pleasure to read, this monumental history will not soon be surpassed.
And yet, there is so much more to this story. MacCulloch also, and eloquently, narrates the events surrounding Apostolic Christianity, the doctrinal struggles during the era of the Patristics and Ecumenical Councils. He then moves into lesser-known and understood eras that include, the Great Schism between the Greek East and Latin West, the medieval era, and the tumultuous period of the Crusades.
He then moves back into the turbulent, superstitious, and conflicted world of the Protestant Reformation and the events and cataclysmic religious and social changes it would inspire. He then moves through the Enlightenment period, and into the events precipitating the awakenings in America and Great Britain that gave birth to the global Pentecostal phenomenon, and what we now know as Global Christianity.
Along the way, McCulloch introduces the reader to numerous monks, crusaders and mystics, theologians, social activists, popes, politicians, and many other characters that have defined the shape of the church. But he also includes the outsiders, heretics and renegade saints, all the while breathing life into the vibrant spectrum of Christianity's four major branches. Magnificent in its scope, Diarmaid MacCulloch's work is certain to be an unrivaled benchmark in the field of Christian history for years to come.
The definitive history of Christianity for our time.
A product of electrifying scholarship conveyed with commanding skill, Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity goes back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible and encompasses the globe. It captures the major turning points in human history and fills in often neglected accounts of conversion and confrontation in Africa, Latin America and Asia. And it uncovers the roots of the faith that galvanized America, charting the surprising beliefs of the founding fathers, the rise of the Evangelical movement and of Pentecostalism, and the recent crisis within the Catholic Church. Bursting with original insights and a great pleasure to read, this monumental history will not soon be surpassed.
Diarmaid Macculloch is the author of The Reformation, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Thomas Cranmer, winner of the Whitbread and Duff Cooper prizes. The son of an Anglican pastor, he is Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University and a celebrated presenter of his own TV series.
Where does Christianity begin? In Athens, Jerusalem, or Rome? How did the early creeds of the church develop and differentiate? What was the impact of the Reformation and the Catholic Counterreformation? How have vital Christian communities emerged in Asia, Africa, and India since the 18th century? Award-winning historian MacCulloch (The Reformation) attempts to answer these questions and many more in this elegantly written, magisterial history of Christianity. MacCulloch diligently traces the origins and development of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christianities, and he provides a more in-depth look at the development of Christianity in Asia and Africa than standard histories of Christianity. He offers sketches of Christian thinkers from Augustine and Luther to Desmond Tutu and Patriarch Bartholomew I. Three appendixes contain a list of popes, Orthodox patriarchs, and a collection of Christian texts. Assuming no previous knowledge on the part of readers about Christian traditions, MacCulloch traces in breathtaking detail the often contentious arguments within Christianity for the past 3,000 years. His monumental achievement will not soon be surpassed.
*Starred Review* MacCulloch signals the parameters of his prodigious scholarship when he brackets the Resurrection as a riddle no historian can resolve, then marvels at how belief in the Risen Lord has transformed ordinary men and women into martyrsand inquisitors. Despite his refusal to affirm the faiths founding miracle, MacCulloch demonstrates rare talent for probing the human dynamics of Christianitys long and complex evolution. Even when examining well-known episodessuch as the Church Fathers fight against Gnosticism or the stunning conversion of Constantinethis capacious narrative opens unexpected perspectives. Readers encounter, for instance, surprising connections between Christian doctrine, on the one hand, and ancient Greek philosophy interlaced with Roman politics on the other. As the chronicle fractures into Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant strands, MacCulloch exposes unfamiliar but unmistakably human personalities who have shaped the worship of the divine. Readers meet, for instance, Gudit, a savagely anti-monastic Ethiopian queen, and Filofei, an irrepressibly ambitious Russian monk. Much closer to our time, we confront Christian enthusiasms that militarists harnessed in World War I, Christian hatreds that Nazis exploited in World War II. Concluding with the perplexities of evangelists facing an implacably secular world, MacCulloch leaves readers pondering a problematic religious future. A work of exceptional breadth and subtlety. --Bryce Christensen
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