Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

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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.

Winner of the 2010 PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118695
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Pages: 1216
  • Sales rank: 116,670
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.10 (d)

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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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Maps

Introduction 1

Pt. I A Millennium of Beginnings (1000 BCE-100 CE)

1 Greece and Rome (c. 1000 BCE-100 CE) 19

2 Israel (c. 1000 BCE-100 CE) 47

Pt. II One Church, One Faith, One Lord? (4 BCE-450 CE)

3 A Crucified Messiah (4 BCE-100 CE) 77

4 Boundaries Defined (50 CE-300) 112

5 The Prince: Ally or Enemy? (100-300) 155

6 The Imperial Church (300-451) 189

Pt. III Vanishing Futures: East and South (451-1500)

7 Defying Chalcedon: Asia and Africa (451-622) 231

8 Islam: The Great Realignment (622-1500) 255

Pt. IV The Unpredictable Rise of Rome (300-1300)

9 The Making of Latin Christianity (300-500) 289

10 Latin Christendom: New Frontiers (500-1000) 319

11 The West: Universal Emperor or Universal Pope? (900-1200) 363

12 A Church for All People? (1100-1300) 396

Pt. V Orthodoxy: The Imperial Faith (451-1800)

13 Faith in a New Rome (451-900) 427

14 Orthodoxy: More Than an Empire (900-1700) 466

15 Russia: The Third Rome (900-1800) 503

Pt. VI Western Christianity Dismembered (1300-1800)

16 Perspectives on the True Church (1300-1517) 551

17 A House Divided (1517-1660) 604

18 Rome's Renewal (1500-1700) 655

19 A Worldwide Faith (1500-1800) 689

20 Protestant Awakenings (1600-1800) 716

Pt. VII God in the Dock (1492-present)

21 Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492-1815) 769

22 Europe Re-enchanted or Disenchanted? (1815-1914) 817

23: To Make the World Protestant (1700-1914) 866

24 Not Peace but a Sword (1914-60) 915

25 Culture Wars (1960-Present) 967

Notes 1017

Further Reading 1098

Index 1113

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 88 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(29)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 88 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    MacCulloch's Christianity Superb

    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.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 11, 2010

    Shockingly blunt and informative.

    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.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2011

    CAUTION The NOOKbook is incomplete

    The content of the book seems excellent. Except it is not all there on the NOOK version.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2010

    An intellectual tour de force!

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2013

    Unbiased, objective history.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2013

    If Church history is interesting to you, a must-read.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2011

    Not satisfied

    I wish the author of this book kept more of his focus on telling actual history than wasting so much space giving his interpretation of the reasons why everything happened the way they did. I´ve read an awful lot of "it seems" which followed by the author´s biased opinions, and even when he pretends to care for the actual reasons the people involved in the events he relates did what they did, he still tries to interpret those and has to have the last word. While this book is definitely full of useful and rich information i didn´t find it an enjoyable reading.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    Staggering Disappointment

    Rarely has a scholar shown that he knew so much yet understood so little.

    MacCullough claims that "Most Christians did not want to be enemies of the Roman Empire..." (p. 92), ignoring the savagely anti-Roman final book of the New Testament (The Book of Revelation) as well as Rome's three centuries of hunting down Christians as "public enemies."

    The "common property" of the first Jerusalem community as described in Acts is dismisssed as something that "is unlikely to have happened," (pp. 119-120), ignoring the fact that Luke asserts the contrary not once but twice in Acts, and casting aside the unanimous testimony of the Church Fathers regarding the rejection of private property.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    good book but two biased

    Its a good read but thought more opinion than facts at times. Some of his conclusions are down right absurd flying in the face of history. Thought Owen Chadwick and Paul Johnson did a much better history. Thought at times author was writing more of an agenda than a history. Its not awful but disappointing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    A Christians perspective on this book.

    The authors motive is clear. To discredit the divine christian message. His disgrace to the deciples is clear and even, as he calls the Jewish Prophet, Jesus Christ who by the way is the Son of God.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2012

    Tough Read

    This one's really long and boring and isn't straight to the point - not a very leisurely read. However for the facts it has, it is good - I wish there was less of the author's opinion however, since he doesn't understand many things as much as I wished - for him to explain it more comprehensively.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Wow! Homerun!!

    Thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. Excellent read and more thorough than the BBC documentary.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent History

    Thorough and learned.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 10, 2010

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    Posted January 25, 2011

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    Posted April 6, 2010

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    Posted November 20, 2010

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