A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

Diarmaid MacCulloch

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

Christianity, one of the world’s great religions, has had an incalculable impact on human history. This book, now the most comprehensive and up to date single volume work in English, describes not only the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organisation and spirituality, but how it has changed politics, sex, and human society. Diarmaid MacCulloch ranges from Palestine in the first century to India in the third, from Damascus to China in the seventh century and from San Francisco to Korea in the twentieth. He is one of the most widely travelled of Christian historians and conveys a sense of place as arrestingly as he does the power of ideas. He presents the development of Christian history differently from any of his predecessors. He shows how, after a semblance of unity in its earliest centuries, the Christian church divided during the next 1400 years into three increasingly distanced parts, of which the western Church was by no means always the most important: he observes that at the end of the first eight centuries of Christian history, Baghdad might have seemed a more likely capital for worldwide Christianity than Rome. This is the first truly global history of Christianity. 4.5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History, Religion & Spirituality
Format Hardback
Pages 1216
RRP £35.00
Date of Publication September 2009
ISBN 978-0713998696
Publisher Allen Lane
 

Christianity, one of the world’s great religions, has had an incalculable impact on human history. This book, now the most comprehensive and up to date single volume work in English, describes not only the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organisation and spirituality, but how it has changed politics, sex, and human society. Diarmaid MacCulloch ranges from Palestine in the first century to India in the third, from Damascus to China in the seventh century and from San Francisco to Korea in the twentieth. He is one of the most widely travelled of Christian historians and conveys a sense of place as arrestingly as he does the power of ideas. He presents the development of Christian history differently from any of his predecessors. He shows how, after a semblance of unity in its earliest centuries, the Christian church divided during the next 1400 years into three increasingly distanced parts, of which the western Church was by no means always the most important: he observes that at the end of the first eight centuries of Christian history, Baghdad might have seemed a more likely capital for worldwide Christianity than Rome. This is the first truly global history of Christianity.

Reviews

The Financial Times

John Cornwell

A History of Christianity is a prodigious, thrilling, masterclass of a history book... He has an impressive connecting overview of his vast subject, as well as an eye for the page-turner anecdote, while he usefully deals with major themes, some of which span several centuries or virtually an entire millennium. This is precisely what a non-specialist reader wants and I will be dipping into this jumbo-history for years to come.

12/09/2009

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The Guardian

Rowan Williams

He is fair, remarkably comprehensive, neither uncritical nor hostile; what is more, he shows an extraordinary familiarity with specialist literature in practically every area... Inevitably there are a few slips in detail... And there are, equally inevitably, some gaps... But these are small flaws in 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.

19/09/2009

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The Times

Richard Holloway

There is a passage in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that might serve as a prologue to this magnificent new history of Christianity... If Joyce offered us a sketch of this ancient duality [the tension between the Catholic substance and the Protestant principle], Diarmaid MacCulloch has given us a sumptuous portrait of it, alive with detail and generous in judgment.

19/09/2009

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The Spectator

Paul Johnson

The section on Jesus is not much more than 20 pages, and reflects all the most irritating aspects of modern Anglican New Testament criticism... Once the author gets into his story with St Paul and the founding of the church, the narrative becomes more interesting and fruitful. 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... I shall keep this book on my shelves, for reference. But I can’t imagine anyone reading it for pleasure.

23/09/2009

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The Economist

The Economist

His narrative may not quite hold together, but it has very good bits… Mr MacCulloch describes the [Reformation] era with a skilful sweep, though little distinguishes this section from a more general account. Some will be less happy with his treatment of Christianity’s early years, when basic doctrines were being hammered out. To this era Mr MacCulloch brings some baggage, and it can get in the way... Mr MacCulloch copes better with the challenges of writing about modern Christianity

17/09/2009

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