- Hardcover: 1216 pages
- Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition edition (24 Sept. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0713998695
- ISBN-13: 978-0713998696
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 7.2 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 252,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years Hardcover – 24 Sep 2009
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'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' --Rowan Williams, Guardian
'a prodigious, thrilling, masterclass of a history book. MacCulloch is to be congratulated for his accessible handling of so much complex, difficult material' --John Cornwell, Financial Times
'Magnificent ... alive with detail and generous in judgement ... MacCulloch is at his most moving when he fills in one of the gaps in the West's understanding of history'
--Richard Holloway, The Times
About the Author
Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University. His Thomas Cranmer (1996) won the Whitbread Biography Prize, the James Tait Black Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. He is the author most recently of Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490 - 1700 (2004), which won the Wolfson Prize for History and the British Academy Prize. His six-part television history of Christianity airs on BBC television this autumn.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is an immense book, and justifiably so - such a complicated history, ranging across the entire globe and spanning more than two thousand years, could scarcely be anything less, but it rarely flags or fails. It is a difficult history to tell, particularly when the major Churches begin to establish themselves - the early African churches, the Ethiopian Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church - and it becomes impossible to tell the full history in any meaningfully chronological way.
But it's well-worth the challenge, particularly in the areas not usually focused upon in the West - such as the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches. I personally found it particularly interesting to see the history of Christianity as a whole and how all the different Churches that seem so far apart relate and respond to one another; and particularly how the various trends in religious attitudes and behaviour have evolved and changed over the centuries.
It's hard to tell MacCulloch's own position from this book, and that's another mark in its favour. If I had to tell, I'd say the overall tone is one of fond and perhaps somewhat bemused affection, tempered with a healthy dose of enlightened scepticism. It makes for a lively and engaging read, although not one to be entered into lightly.
The tone is mildly sceptical, but respectful, so believers and non-believers will find nothing to object to, and both will learn much about what Christianity actually is.
Provocatively subtitled "The First THREE Thousand Years", it begins with two substantial chapters about the thousand years before Christianity, describing the cultures out of which Christianity arose: one chapter is about Greece and Rome and the other about Israel; and already we are warned that these roots will imply tensions within Christianity. There will be further tensions as differing and opposing strands develop, and these are beautifully brought out.
Most western readers will be much more familiar with the story of the Western churches than with that of the Eastern ones. Yet the Eastern Church covered the areas where Christianity originated; it was greatly boosted after the Emperor Constantine, after having legalized and favoured Christianity, had moved his capital to Constantinople; the Western Empire succumbed to the barbarians while the Eastern Empire remained in existence for another thousand years. For a time, therefore, what MacCullough calls "the centre of gravity" of Christendom lay in the East, and it was the Muslim conquest of so much of the area that tilted it to the Latin West, described by MacCullough as being originally "the poor relation of the Greek- and Semitic-speaking Churches of the East" (p.290). The passionate theological disputes in the Western Church (Athanasianism versus Arianism) were complicated enough.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Most enjoyable for someone who is interested in this field (i.e. how did 21st Century Christianity develop, and why are we told to believe what we are told to believe and regard... Read morePublished 7 days ago by cuthbertus
A very informative book by an author well versed in his subject.Published 16 days ago by m c colgan
Taking into account all areas of historical study and not merely the history of the church, I consider Diarmaid MacCulloch to be, by a wide margin, the finest scholar writing... Read morePublished 2 months ago by David S Welham
A great book full of details about some highly interesting events. Perfect for reference and for the general reader. Read morePublished 3 months ago by JJW
Brilliant history of the machinations and revisions throughout the christian period from prior to the rise of christianity to the present day. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Aysa Knox
The author writes from a leftist, revisionist perspective. As the book ends, it collapses into a politicised account of the 20th century. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Interested layman
Very good book. Im a master history student, and this book is excellent!Published 3 months ago by Christine Marie Sagemoen