Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

3.4 89
by Diarmaid MacCulloch
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Jon Meacham
…sprawling, sensible and illuminating…It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive and surprisingly accessible volume on the subject than MacCulloch's. This is not a book to be taken lightly; it is more than 1,100 pages, and its bulk makes it hard to take anyplace at all. Want a refresher on the rise of the papacy? It is here. On Charlemagne and Carolingians? That is here, too. On the Fourth Crusade and its aftermath? Look no farther.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Prize-winning author MacCulloch (history of the Church, Univ. of Oxford; The Reformation) has produced here a marvelous, comprehensive history beginning in 1000 B.C.E. with the development of Greece, Rome, and Israel, the primary cultural and religious traditions that helped shape Christianity from its beginning even until now. MacCulloch pays ample attention to the Orthodox Church, both Eastern and Oriental, as well as to Western Christianity, its reformations, and current "culture wars." The author's carefully reasoned interpretations substantiate his claim to be "a candid friend of Christianity," with happy memories of childhood "in the rectory of an Anglican country parish," searching for good within diverse manifestations of Christianity while also attending to the "foolish and dangerous" within the religion. VERDICT Laypeople not discouraged by its 1000-plus pages will find this book accessible and engaging; it would also make a fine textbook for a one- or two-semester course. Readers wanting a history less than half this length may find L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity useful even though they will miss MacCulloch's judicious explanations of (human) cause and influence in Christian history. Essential for all libraries collecting on this subject.—Carolyn M. Craft, Emerita, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA
From the Publisher
"A landmark contribution ... It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive and surprisingly accessible volume than MacCulloch's."
-Jon Meacham, The New York Times Book Review

"A well-informed and - bless the man - witty narrative guaranteed to please and at the same time displease every single reader, if hardly in identical measure.... The author's prose style is fluent, well-judged and wholly free of cant ... You will shut this large book with gratitude for a long and stimulating journey."
-The Washington Times

"A prodigious, thrilling, masterclass of a history book. MacCulloch is to be congratulated for his accessible handling of so much complex, difficult material ... He keeps the reader engaged with wit and choice anecdotes and throughout the entire book he retains his own distinctive, slightly irreverent perspective, and an unerring instinct for when to go from macro to micro history."
-John Cornwell, Financial Times

"He brings an insider's wit to tracing the fate of official Christianity in an age of doubt, and to addressing modern surges of zeal, from Mormons to Pentecostals."
-Economist

"A triumphantly executed achievement. This book is a landmark in its field, astonishing in its range, compulsively readable, full of insight even for the most jaded professional and of illumination for the interested general reader. It will have few, if any, rivals in the English language."
-Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

"Christianity is a tour de force: it has enormous range, is gracefully and wittily written, and from page one holds the attention. Everyone who reads it will learn things they didn't know."
-Eamon Duffy, author of Saints and Sinners

"The great strength of the book is that it covers, in sufficient but not oppressive detail, huge areas of Christian history which are dealt with cursorily in traditional accounts of the subject and are unfamiliar to most English-speaking readers ... His analysis of why Christianity has taken root in Korea but made such a hash in India is perceptive and his account of the nineteenth-century missions in Africa and the Pacific is first-rate and full of insight."
-Paul Johnson, author of The Quest for God

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143118695
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/22/2011
Pages:
1216
Sales rank:
474,649
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 2.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for Christianity

“Immensely ambitious and absorbing.”
—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

“A landmark contribution . . . It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive and surprisingly accessible volume than MacCulloch’s.”
—Jon Meacham, The New York Times Book Review

“A prodigious, thrilling, masterclass of a history book. MacCulloch is to be congratulated for his accessible handling of so much complex, difficult material.”
—John Cornwell, Financial Times

“A tour de force: it has enormous range, is gracefully and wittily written, and from page one holds the attention. Everyone who reads it will learn things they didn’t know.”
—Eamon Duffy, author of Saints and Sinners

“MacCulloch brings an insider’s wit to tracing the fate of official Christianity in an age of doubt, and to addressing modern surges of zeal, from Mormons to Pentecostals.”
—The Economist

“A triumphantly executed achievement. This book is a landmark in its field, astonishing in its range, compulsively readable, full of insight even for the most jaded professional and of illumination for the interested general reader. It will have few, if any, rivals in the English language.”
—Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

“A well-informed and—bless the man—witty narrative guaranteed to please and at the same time displease every single reader, if hardly in identical measure. . . . The author’s prose style is fluent, well-judged, and wholly free of cant. . . . You will shut this large book with gratitude for a long and stimulating journey.”
—The Washington Times

“A tour de force . . . The great strength of the book is that it covers, in sufficient but not oppressive detail, huge areas of Christian history which are dealt with cursorily in traditional accounts of the subject and are unfamiliar to most English-speaking readers. . . . MacCulloch’s analysis of why Christianity has taken root in Korea but made such a hash in India is perceptive and his account of the nineteenth-century missions in Africa and the Pacific is first-rate and full of insight. . . . The most brilliant point of this remarkable book is its identification of the U.S. as the prime example of the kind of nation the reformers hoped to create.”
—Paul Johnson, The Spectator

Meet the Author

Diarmaid MacCulloch is a fellow of St. Cross College, Oxford, and professor of the history of the church at Oxford University. His books include Suffolk and the Tudors, winner of the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize, and Thomas Cranmer: A Life, which won the Whitbread Biography Prize, the James Tait Black Prize, and the Duff Cooper Prize. A former Anglican deacon, he has presented many highly celebrated documentaries for television and radio, and was knighted in 2012 for his services to scholarship. He lives in Oxford, England.

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Christianity 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 87 reviews.
CanonDale More than 1 year ago
I regularly teach Christian history at my parish. I am now urging anyone wishing to have a one volume history whi is lively, entertaining, brialliant, well organized, and highly useful, to get MacCulloch's work. MacCulloch is a well known English Reformation scholar whose Thomas Cranmer is now the standard work on the subject. He sympathetically yet critically put forward this pivotal archbishop and litugist while describing how he stayed alive in highly dangerous times. Cranmer finally was martyred under Queen Mary. MacCulloch also has written a fine book on the European Reformation itself, again a brilliant overview of this crucial period for the Christian Church and Western Civilization. Now he outdoes himself in this over arching history from 1000 years before Christ, through Christianity's 2000 history. His providing a balanced understanding of the Western as well as the eastern Church will greatly inform scholars and those reading for general knowledge of the huge subject. His writing is crisp, clear, and articulate, as well as droll. Altogether a fascinating read.
Richbourg More than 1 year ago
Of all the history books which I have read on this subject, this one is thoroughly and minutely detailed which ends up being enlightening to the nth degree.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author chronicles Christian history from the very beginning. It isn't pro-Christian, nor is it critical of the Church - it just tells a narrative, introducing us to Saints and heretics, great theologians and nutjobs, etc. His goal is to teach history, not theology.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, honest, academically rigorous, and - at times - humorous. He has a bit of an agenda, but is up front and honest about it. Obviously not for everybody, but I loved it.
CWL73 More than 1 year ago
A marvelously written intellectual history of the world. The pages from the beginning are replete with intellectual giants engaged in thoughtful discourse with the same intellectual vigor that we recognize from some current sources. And then there are a larger number of thugs, schemers, murderers, and narcissists who bring us back to earth.
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Michael Davis More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. Excellent read and more thorough than the BBC documentary.
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The content of the book seems excellent. Except it is not all there on the NOOK version.
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