The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in The Middle East, Africa, and Asia-and How It Died  -     By: Philip Jenkins
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The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in The Middle East, Africa, and Asia-and How It Died

HarperOne / 2008 / Hardcover

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A revealing study on the surprising and little-known story about the earliest, largest, and most influential Christian churches east of Rome. Jenkins explores how these communities became extinct after 1,000 years as the dominant Christian expression. He further demonstrates how those "lost era" believers shaped certain Muslim and Christian practices we know today. 336 pages, hardcover from HarperOne.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: HarperOne
Publication Date: 2008
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0061472808
ISBN-13: 9780061472800
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

In this groundbreaking book, renowned religion scholar Philip Jenkins offers a lost history, revealing that, for centuries, Christianity's center was actually in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, with significant communities extending as far as China. The Lost History of Christianity unveils a vast and forgotten network of the world's largest and most influential Christian churches that existed to the east of the Roman Empire. These churches and their leaders ruled the Middle East for centuries and became the chief administrators and academics in the new Muslim empire. The author recounts the shocking history of how these churches—those that had the closest link to Jesus and the early church—died.

Jenkins takes a stand against current scholars who assert that variant, alternative Christianities disappeared in the fourth and fifth centuries on the heels of a newly formed hierarchy under Constantine, intent on crushing unorthodox views. In reality, Jenkins says, the largest churches in the world were the “heretics” who lost the orthodoxy battles. These so-called heretics were in fact the most influential Christian groups throughout Asia, and their influence lasted an additional one thousand years beyond their supposed demise.

Jenkins offers a new lens through which to view our world today, including the current conflicts in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Without this lost history, we lack an important element for understanding our collective religious past. By understanding the forgotten catastrophe that befell Christianity, we can appreciate the surprising new births that are occurring in our own time, once again making Christianity a true world religion.

Author Bio

Philip Jenkins, the author of The Lost History of Christianity, Jesus Wars, and The Next Christendom, is a Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion. He has published articles and op-ed pieces in The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Washington Post and has been a guest on top national radio shows across the country.

Publisher Description

In this groundbreaking book, renowned religion scholar Philip Jenkins offers a lost history, revealing that, for centuries, Christianity's center was actually in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, with significant communities extending as far as China. The Lost History of Christianity unveils a vast and forgotten network of the world's largest and most influential Christian churches that existed to the east of the Roman Empire. These churches and their leaders ruled the Middle East for centuries and became the chief administrators and academics in the new Muslim empire. The author recounts the shocking history of how these churches—those that had the closest link to Jesus and the early church—died.

Jenkins takes a stand against current scholars who assert that variant, alternative Christianities disappeared in the fourth and fifth centuries on the heels of a newly formed hierarchy under Constantine, intent on crushing unorthodox views. In reality, Jenkins says, the largest churches in the world were the “heretics” who lost the orthodoxy battles. These so-called heretics were in fact the most influential Christian groups throughout Asia, and their influence lasted an additional one thousand years beyond their supposed demise.

Jenkins offers a new lens through which to view our world today, including the current conflicts in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Without this lost history, we lack an important element for understanding our collective religious past. By understanding the forgotten catastrophe that befell Christianity, we can appreciate the surprising new births that are occurring in our own time, once again making Christianity a true world religion.

Publisher's Weekly

Revisionist history is always great fun, and never more so than when it is persuasively and cogently argued. Jenkins, the Penn State history professor whose book The Next Christendom made waves several years ago, argues that it's not exactly a new thing that Christianity is making terrific inroads in Asia and Africa. A thousand years ago, those continents were more Christian than Europe, and Asian Christianity in particular was the locus of tremendous innovations in mysticism, monasticism, theology and secular knowledge. The little-told story of Christianity's decline in those two continents—hastened by Mongol invasions, the rise of Islam and Buddhism, and internecine quarrels—is sensitively and imaginatively rendered. Jenkins sometimes challenges the assertions of other scholars, including Karen Armstrong and Elaine Pagels, but provides compelling evidence for his views. The book is marvelously accessible for the lay reader and replete with fascinating details to help personalize the ambitious sweep of global history Jenkins undertakes. This is an important counterweight to previous histories that have focused almost exclusively on Christianity in the West. (Nov.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

“Jenkins is one of America’s top religious scholars.”
“. . . persuasively and cogently argued . . . marvelously accessible for the lay reader and replete with fascinating details to help personalize the ambitious sweep of global history Jenkins undertakes. This is an important counterweight to previous histories that have focused almost exclusively on Christianity in the West.”
“Philip Jenkins’s marvelous new book...tells the largely forgotten story of Nisibis, and thousands of sites like it, which stretch from Morocco to Kenya to India to China, and which were, deep into the second millennium, the heart of the church.”
“Jenkins’s well-crafted new volume...is not only a welcome addition to the literature on Christianity as a truly global religion, to which he has already made substantial contributions, but also an invitation to retrieve a forgotten chapter of history that has not inconsiderable relevance to current events.”
“In leaner, clearer prose than ever before, Jenkins outlines and analyzes this history, which few present-day Christians have even heard of. This may be the most eye-opening history book of the year.”
“Philip Jenkins’ book is a tour de force in historical retrieval and reconstruction, a work of scholarly restoration that strikes an overdue balance in the story of Christianity. It is studded with insight, with the story presented in a lively and lucid style.”
“Philip Jenkins always writes well on very interesting topics. This time his topic is more than interesting-it is essential reading for anyone with any interest in the history of Christianity.”
“...an exceptionally fine study of a great swathe of Christian history, hugely important in the Christian story but very little known. This thoughtful, elegant and learned survey will remedy the neglect of a subject which students of religion absolutely need to know about.”
“In this highly readable and sobering exploration of how religions - including our own - grow, falter and sometimes die, Jenkins adds a unique dimension to present day religious studies in a voice and style that non-specialists can also appreciate.”
“[Jenkins’] depiction of the long Christian history of Asia, Mesopotamia, and the greater Middle East is both a much-needed education and a spiritually fruitful provocation.”
“The Lost History of Christianity is a fascinating study of the first thousand-plus years of the Church--a Church rooted in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. We have much to learn from the tale of its reach, its particular way of being Christian, and its eventual decomposition ”
“Using his skill to discredit murky thinking and propose new understandings where the old no longer serve a good purpose, Jenkins offers yet another jewel in what is becoming a crown of paradigm-shattering studies. [This book] will amply reward your investment of time and attention.”

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  1. Dr. Cahyana E. Purnama, MA
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    July 14, 2009
    Dr. Cahyana E. Purnama, MA
    In my opinion, I do not agree to the exclamation that "... The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in The Middle East, Africa, and Asia-and How It Died." As an Asian by blood and lives almost totally in Asian context, I have learned that Christianity in Asia and Africa have never dead. So far, as I had also discussed with fellows in Program for Theology and Cultures in Asia (PTCA), it was true that Christianity in most of those mentioned area there had been decreased. However, there have still lived some root of Christianity in its specific context. For example, in the island of Java, up to present time there have blossomed idea that the Javanese's character was established in the year of 78 AD by a prominent person called Ajisaka (means: Someone who come from the highest). Besides, for every time the Javanese people want to raise a special prayer for their family member that had dead, especially in the 3rd, 7th, 40th and 100th and 1000th day, they have used to make a symbol of small hill (made of rice) with a cross (made of red chilly) and shared a boiled cock that was sliced with the hand of leader and says: Let's eat in commemorate of our life saving prayer with th late one..."So, here I want to encourage another follow study about the unique way of basic Christian life have (might be) lived in every ethnical life-setting in the continent of Asia and Africa. It will be another amazing publication!
  2. Antoine Haddad
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    July 3, 2009
    Antoine Haddad
    Being a middle Easterner Christian, this book was revealing to me. I always wondered what happened to christianity , which was predominant in this region, that it has become almos extint. i would have loved to see more details and analysis of the fearful fate of Christians in the twentieh and beginning of the 21st century and the role of the west in causing and allowing it. Are we doomed?i believe this book is a must for seminary studets
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