A Brief History of Christianity / Edition 1

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Charting the rise and development of Christianity, Carter Lindberg has succeeded in writing a concise and compelling history of the world’s largest religion. He spans over 2,000 years of colorful incident to give an authoritative history of Christianity for both the general reader and the beginning student.

  • Ranges from the missionary journeys of the apostles to the tele-evangelism of the twenty-first century.
  • Demonstrates how the Christian community received and forged its identity from its development of the Bible to the present day.
  • Covers topics fundamental to understanding the course of Western Christianity, including the growth of the papacy, heresy and schism, reformation and counter-reformation.
  • Includes an introduction to the historiography of Christianity, a note on the problems of periodization, an appendix on theological terms, and a useful bibliography.
  • An authoritative yet succinct history, written to appeal to a general audience as well as students of the history of Christianity.
  • Written by internationally regarded theologian, Carter Lindberg, who is the author of numerous titles on theology and Church history.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There is much to praise here. Lindberg manages to explore many key events, issues, people and developments in a very concise manner. The text is very strong on theology and institutions with helpful historical context. I particularly appreciated the attention to Roman Catholicism as well as Protestantism in the modern period. The book is brief, but the history of Christianity is vividly portrayed here in all of its drama and complexity." Jeff Tyler, Hope College

"This is a wonderful book: accessible, concise, clearly written, and thoroughly absorbing. Lindberg has chosen to present the Christian tradition through the history of its principal ideas, but these ideas are grounded in the flesh-and-blood reality of persons, their struggles for faith and for power, and the social and political worlds they inhabited. Reflecting the author’s erudition and wit, this cogent distillation of a complex past will serve beginners as an ideal introduction and old hands as a thought-provoking synthesis." Christopher Elwood, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Carter Lindberg is Professor Emeritus of Church History at Boston University. His recent publications include The Pietist Theologians (2004), The Reformation Theologians (2001), The European Reformations Sourcebook (1999), and The European Reformations (1996), all available via Blackwell Publishing.

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Table of Contents


1. The Responsibility to Remember: Introduction to the Historiography of Christianity.

Tradition and Confession.

2. “The Law of Praying is the Law of Believing”.

The Roman Empire and its Political Achievements.

Hellenization and its Cultural Achievements.

Development of the Biblical Canon.

3. Sibling Rivalry: Heresy, Orthodoxy, and the Ecumenical Councils.

The Structure of Tradition: Confession and Dogma.

Dogma as a Key to Christian Memory and Identity.


Jesus’s Relationship to God: The Doctrine of the Trinity.

From the Council of Nicaea to the Council of Constantinople.

Jesus and Humankind: Christology.

4. The Heavenly City: The Augustinian Synthesis of Biblical Religion and Hellenism.

Augustine’s Path to Conversion.

Augustine’s Theological Contributions.

Augustine and Donatism.

The Pelagian Controversy.

5. The Development of the Medieval Papacy.

Monasticism to Mission.

The Emergence of the Papacy.

Papacy and Empire.

The Gregorian Reform.

The Investiture Conflict.

The Crusades.

6. Faith in Search of Understanding: Anselm, Abelard, and the Beginnings of Scholasticism.

Universities and Scholasticism.

Contributions of Early Scholastic Theology.

7. The Medieval Church.

The Cultural and Theological Development of the Sacraments.

The Rise of the Mendicant Orders.

The Rise and Decline of Papal Authority.

The Decline of the Papacy.


8. The Reformations of the Sixteenth Century.

The Reformation in Germany.

The Reformation in Switzerland.

The Reformation in France.

The Reformation in England.

Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

Early Modern Catholicism.

The Reformations’ Aftermath.

9. Pietism and the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment.

The Catholic Church and the Enlightenment.

10. Challenge and Response: The Church in the Nineteenth Century.

The Churches and the French Revolution.

From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna.

Church Reform in Germany: The Prussian Union.

Inner Mission and the Social Question.

The Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century.

Pope Pius IX and Vatican I.

From Kulturkampf to the Modernist Oath.

Nineteenth-Century Theology.

The Awakening.

Theological Currents.

Liberal Theology.

11. The Christian Churches since World War I.

The Churches during National Socialism.

Developments in the Catholic Church after World War I.

The Ecumenical Movement.

Back to the Future: Christianity in Global Context.

Appendix: Periodization.


Further Reading.


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