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Yale University Press
The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity

The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity

by Robert Louis Wilken
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300198386
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 11/12/2013
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 236,160
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Robert Louis Wilken is William R. Kenan Professor of the History of Christianity Emeritus, University of Virginia. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Beginning in Jerusalem 6

2 Ephesus, Rome, and Edessa: The Spread of Christianity 17

3 The Making of a Christian Community 28

4 Divisions Within 37

5 Constructing a Catacomb 47

6 A Learned Faith: Origen of Alexandria 55

7 Persecution: Cyprian of Carthage 65

8 A Christian Emperor: Constantine 75

9 The Council of Nicaea and the Christian Creed 88

10 Monasticism 99

11 A Christian Jerusalem 109

12 Emperor Julian, the Jews, and Christians 118

13 Bishop and Emperor: Ambrose and Theodosius 127

14 Architecture and Art 136

15 Music and Worship 145

16 The Sick, the Aged, and the Poor: The Birth of Hospitals 154

17 The Bishop of Rome as Pope 163

18 An Ordered Christian Society: Canon Law 174

19 Augustine of Hippo 183

20 The Great Controversy over Christ 195

21 Egypt and the Copts; Nubia 205

22 African Zion: Ethiopia 214

23 Syriac-Speaking Christians: The Church of the East 222

24 Armenia and Georgia 229

25 Central Asia, China, and India 238

26 A Christian Empire: Justinian 246

27 New Beginnings in the West 257

28 Latin Christianity Spreads North 269

29 The Sacking of Jerusalem; More Controversy over Christ 279

30 No God but God: The Rise of Islam 288

31 Images and the Making of Byzantium 297

32 Arabic-Speaking Christians 307

33 Christians Under Islam: Egypt and North Africa 316

34 Christians Under Islam: Spain 324

35 An Emperor in the West: Charlemagne 333

36 Christianity Among the Slavs 344

Afterword 355

Chronology and Maps 361

Suggested Readings 373

Translations 377

Index 381

What People are Saying About This

David Hart

This is a rich and wonderful book, not only because of Robert Wilken's narrative gifts, but because of his immense scholarly range and sympathies.  His is one of the few treatments of Christianity's first millennium for Anglophone readers that embraces the faith's whole history, cultural and geographical, Eastern and Western, Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian, European, Asian, and African.  It is a pure joy to read.—David Hart, author of Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies

Francis Cardinal George

Robert Wilken reminds us that our association of “global” developments in culture, communications and economics with the beginning of the Third Millennium forgets the world of the First Millennium, which was integrated by a universal faith.  This book is both unique and timely, the fruit of broad erudition and deep reflection.—Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago

Carlos Eire

A marvelous and unique survey, learned and authoritative, yet also a perfect introduction to the early history of Christianity.  Robert Wilken redraws many boundaries, expanding horizons, summarizing and analyzing with consummate skill.  This beautifully written book sets new standards on multiple levels, and should stand for a long time as the benchmark by which all other surveys are measured.—Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy

Mark Noll

Robert Wilken has written the best kind of authoritative historical survey.  Its treatment is learned, thorough, but also accessible for all aspects of early Christian history, and especially for the great significance of Islam to the entire Christian world from the seventh century forward.—Mark Noll, author of The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys


An excerpt from Robert Louis Wilken’s The First Thousand Years:

In the early sixth century, a merchant set out from Egypt to sail to the southern coast of India. Like earlier visitors from the Roman Empire, he had undertaken the long journey to bring home peppercorns from the Malabar coastal region, and he called India the land where “pepper grows.”

The name of the sixth-century traveler was Cosmas, and because of his journey to India he is known to historians as Cosmas Indicopleustes, Cosmas the Indian Navigator. Cosmas was a Christian, and in his Christian Topography he reports on Christian communities discovered in his travels. He spent some time in Malabar, the southwestern coast of India, in present-day Kerala, where he found a church with a bishop appointed from Persia. He also visited Socotra, an island in the Arabian Sea, approximately two hundred miles south of Yemen and east of Somalia, where there were Christians with clergy who received their ordination from Persia. But even more striking, he got as far as Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) and there he discovered a church composed of “Persian Christians” performing, in his words, the “full ecclesiastical rite.”

Our histories tell us little about the mission to the Far East. As the spread of Christianity to northern Europe was the work of Latin-speaking monks, and the spread of Christianity among the Slavs was the work of Greek-speaking monks, so the spread of Christianity to the east was the work of Syriac-speaking monks from the Church of the East.

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