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This new edition of Mark Noll's classic introduction to church history isolates fourteen key moments that provide a framework for understanding the history of Christianity. This version includes a new preface, updates throughout the book, revised further readings for each chapter, and two new chapters. Study questions are included.
Praise for previous editions
"This highly recommended work provides a thoughtful yet comprehensive framework for the history of Christianity."
—George Westerlund, Library Journal
"Noll's treatment of the material is evenhanded, engaging, and illuminating. This will be a useful text for readers seeking a historical framework within which to understand their Christian faith."
"An informative and inspiring survey of the history of Christianity designed for the general reader. . . . A thoughtful introduction to the two millennia of Christian history."
—Richard V. Pierard, Church History
"Noll's emphasis on historical significance allows him to range well beyond the institutional and doctrinal matters that dominate traditional church history surveys. . . . A valuable text for church study groups and college-level, one-semester surveys of church history."
—James A. Patterson, Journal of Church and State
"Noll has pulled off a historical tour de force, giving his readers a sense of the overall story of Christianity while neither getting bogged down in the details, nor resorting to oversimplification. . . . [This book is] very helpful in introducing beginning students to the broad sweep of historical events. More knowledgeable students will enjoy it as well, as they ponder the reasons for Noll's choices and his assessment of the events he describes."
—Donald L. Huber, Trinity Seminary Review
"Mark Noll's survey of key movements in the two millennia of Christianity is well written and judiciously selected. The book is designed for the relative newcomer to church history and would be an interesting read for the oft cited 'educated person in the pew.'. . . A fair and interesting historical survey, attempting to do right by all brands of Christians."
—Tim Bradshaw, Themelios
Preface to the Third Edition
Introduction: The Idea of Turning Points and Reasons for Studying the History of Christianity
1. The Church Pushed Out on Its Own: The Fall of Jerusalem (70)
2. Realities of Empire: The Council of Nicaea (325)
3. Doctrine, Politics, and Life in the Word: The Council of Chalcedon(451)
4. The Monastic Rescue of the Church: Benedict's Rule (530)
5. The Culmination of Christendom: The Coronation of Charlemagne (800)
6. Division between East and West: The Great Schism (1054)
7. The Beginnings of Protestantism: The Diet of Worms (1521)
8. A New Europe: The English Act of Supremacy (1534)
9. Catholic Reform and Worldwide Outreach: The Founding of the Jesuits (1540)
10. The New Piety: The Conversion of the Wesleys (1738)
11. Discontents of the Modern West: The French Revolution (1789)
12. A Faith for All the World: The Edinburgh Missionary Conference (1910)
13. Mobilizing for the Future: The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (1974)
Afterword: The Character of Christianity and the Search for Turning Points
Posted April 3, 2010
Turning Points is one of Noll's most accessible books. Not a dry scholarly treatise, but rather a lively and well-written overview of 12 critical events in the history of Christianity. Noll's idea is that focusing on specific episodes not only allows for a more detailed treatment of each than would be possible in a comprehensive text, but also permits "more opportunity interpretive reflection." I think he was exactly right--he can go into considerable depth on each event, explaining why it was so significant.
Turning Points thus does not pretend to be a comprehensive narrative. For those looking for such a treatment, may I recommend Paul Johnson's "History of Christianity," which I regard as the finest one-volume comprehensive church history.
Like any list-making project, one can quibble with Noll's choices. He leaves out some of my favorite episodes (which is not exactly the right phrase, but you get my point). Not included are such events as the three Great Awakenings; the installation of John Paul II; the crusades; and so on. At the same time, however, it is hard to quibble with Noll's choices. Events like Nicea, Worms, the French Revolution, and so on were all major "turning points" that deserved comprehensive treatment.
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