Owen Chadwick was a professor of modern history at Cambridge from the 1960s to the 1980s. He has written extensively on issues in the history of Christianity, which include 'The Reformation' (now in its 20th edition -- a remarkable number!), 'The Victorian Church', 'The Popes and the European Revolution', as well as an authoritative biography of Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.
In this volume, 'A History of Christianity', Chadwick has taken his extensive knowledge of the subject and distilled it into a book that is accessible, yet magisterial. Including all elements of religion, including art, music, philosophy, politics, architecture, faith and spirituality, Chadwick explores the breadth of Christianity from the early days of wandering disciples to the days of televangelists, and all in between.
--Chapter 1: Jew and Greek
This give a summary overview of the history of Judaism up to the time of Christ, to provide some basic context scripturally, sociologically, historically, etc. It also surveys the then-current non-Jewish religions and philosophies dominant in the Roman world. It traces the first few hundred years of the Christian movement, exploring issues such as house-church organisation, ritual and liturgy, early persecutions, early heresies, and the perceived need for and development of creeds and a canon of scripture (the New Testament).
--Chapter 2: The Christian Empire
This chapter begins with the close of the era of persecution and the rise of Constantine. From this point Christianity was a major state religion, which had profound impact upon the character of the church in philosophy and organisation. Issues explored include the beginnings of monasticism, the recognition of and celebration of saints, calendrical controversies, and the spread of Christianity beyond Roman borders to northern Europe, eastern and southern lands.
--Chapter 3: East Rome
This chapter examines some of the issues which began to separate what is now called Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Western church. Issues examined include the role of the city and political dominance of Constantinople, eastern traditions and liturgical differences from the Western practice, mysticism and the effects of Islam on continuing Christian development as a politically-secondary religion.
--Chapter 4: Western Society in the Middle Ages
With the rise of Islam and the faltering of political power of the eastern Christian hierarchy, the bishop of Rome once again became a predominant authority in church matters politically. Issues covered include art and architecture in the west, the rise of the diocesan and parish systems, 'imitation of Christ' movements such as the Franciscans, the church's regulation of marriage, and the beginnings of Renaissance thinking.
--Chapter 5: The New World and Reform
After the crusades and the near universality of catholicism in the West for several centuries, various communities and leaders began to question the authority of the church in various ways. Issues covered include the reformative ideas of Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Anabaptists, Hutterites, Congregationalists, and many others. Also this is the era when the Bible first came to be translated in the common vernacular of the people. Music and philosophy also began to have greater impact on Christianity.
--Chapter 6: The Modern Age
From the French revolution forward, the world has seen unprecedented change in almost every area. Christianity has been no different. From seemingly minor issues as the rise of Christmas cards to the major events such as the fall of communism, this chapter explore global issues in Christianity, with an eye toward future events: gender barriers in the church; science and religion; moral issues; the church and the home.
This book is lavishly illustrated, well written, well indexed and organised, and a true treat to the reader. This presents a concise yet comprehensive overview of Christianity as a cohesive whole, and is worthy of a spot on the bookshelf (or, indeed, coffee table) of a scholar, a cleric, and the interested lay person.