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Silence: A Christian History

Silence: A Christian History [Kindle Edition]

Diarmaid MacCulloch
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Diarmaid MacCulloch, acknowledged master of the big picture in Christian history, unravels a polyphony of silences from the history of Christianity and beyond. He considers the surprisingly mixed attitudes of Judaism to silence, Jewish and Christian borrowings from Greek explorations of the divine, and the silences which were a feature of Jesus's brief ministry and witness. Besides prayer and mystical contemplation, there are shame and evasion; careless and purposeful forgetting.

Many deliberate silences are revealed: the forgetting of histories which were not useful to later Church authorities (such as the leadership roles of women among the first Christians), or the constant problems which Christianity has faced in dealing honestly with sexuality. Behind all this is the silence of God; and in a deeply personal final chapter, MacCulloch brings a message of optimism for those who still seek God beyond the clamorous noise of over-confident certainties.

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 whilst Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490 - 1700 (2004) won the Wolfson Prize for History and the British Academy Prize. His most recent work A History of Christianity (2010) was awarded the Hessel-Tiltman Prize.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1555 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AM7E3K4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,147 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most splendid! 21 July 2013
By Angel House VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was drawn to this book because I am interested in silence. Having previously encountered Sara Maitland's rather more contemplative and autobiographical Book of Silence, I was intrigued to know what else I could learn about silence in relation to religion and spirituality. This is an informative and enlightening read. I particularly enjoyed reading about the noisy God of the Old Testament in contrast with the silent suffering of Christ on the cross. Other highlights are MacCulloch's discussions around the word 'logos', about women being denied access to the altar while menstruating and his own personal experiences of silence in relation to his homosexuality. There is a great deal of food for thought. Despite being an academic, MacCulloch has written in simple English to appeal to the majority. He gives plenty of suggestions for further reading and provides comprehensive references for the more serious reader. Definitely worth checking out, in my opinion.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Christianity writ small ... 8 April 2013
In MacCulloch's history of Silence (a Christian Witness) we have a companion to the his magisterial (or just plain long) 'Christianity: The First 3,000 Years'. Whereas the latter dealt mainly with the physical history (with some doctrinal and intellectual history thrown in) this book is very much an intellectual history of Christian spirituality, reads through the lens of silence. The silence, therefore, does not relate just to the absence of noise (i.e. a meditative silence, e.g. as employed in Lectio Divina), but to the silence that comes either through hidden action, suppressed action/ belief or through the absence of protest, thus he not only covers how silence has been used in spirituality, but also how Christians (and the Church) have been silent, e.g. on homosexuality, child abuse or slavery.

Unlike Eamon Duffy, whose published work does not seem to have developed much from his seminal 'Stripping of the Altars' one gets a sense that MacCulloch is involved in a lifetime's discovery, a process he is happy to share and engage in with the interested reader. However, where this book may appear to fail is that it is too immediate (too much of its time) allowing itself to concentrate on the hot topics of the age: clerical homosexuality; clerical child abuse (and silence about both) amongst other issues. As with the silence of the Church over slavery and the holocaust, these silences are often easily condemned, but highly contextualised - caught up in the Church politics and self-understanding of that period. However, MacCulloch avoids the mistake of easy condemnation, showing how and why such issues have been (and should be) properly read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars exploring the silence 20 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Christianity has had a struggling relationship with silence. We have a wordy faith filled with volume that finds difficulty to accept anything less.

Pascal wrote that "all of man's misfortunes come from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room". Diarmaid MacCulloch here charts this problematic and often contradictory relationship with power, sensitivity and insight in Silence: A Christian History. Expanded from a lecture series, it is intellectually weighty and without the prevarications and self-qualifications that sometimes spoil academic prose. Comfortingly, it's not overwhelmingly dense!

The final quarter for me is the most applicable and provocative. MacCulloch explores the diverse uses of silence: the silence surrounding the global suffering, slavery, abuses, the silencing of non-heterosexual, non-male voices within the church and more. There is an astonishing cadenza on "Nicodemism", the term John Calvin left for us derived from Nicodemus, who only dared visit the tomb under cover of darkness.

This is a highly informative account of the nature and application of silence in the Western Church and parts of this in the East with rigorous engagement of the associated theologies that accompany this.

We speak more than we ever should, this is a substantive, important and sure-to-be classic on the subject. A valued counter-foil, so ssssssssssh!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History with a modern moral challenge 30 Nov 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wide-ranging and thought-provoking book, especially in its final chapters. MacCullogh takes us through the long history of silence in Christainity in four stages. First the silences of the Bible, of the God of the Old Testament who calls us to be still and to listen to His words. Followed by the Jesus of the New Testament who ends the centuries-long silence as The Word (Logos) of God. In his second section MacCullogh explores monastic silence, the silence of martyrdom and of confession. Thirdly he explores silence through three reformations. And finally the silence of more recent things chosen not to be remembered and not spoken about. In this last section of the book there are profound and challenging questions about the things the church has failed to speak against and reveal: persecution, exploitation and the abuse that sometimes arose as a consequence of the silence of the confessional, or the protection provided by the church itself. Thankfully some of these silences are being broken in our time and the truth spoken and heard, but the questions remain and must not be forgotten. Altogether an interesting and challenging read, and well worth buying.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Offensive and ludicrous.
The premise of this and all this author's books is the validity of what he calls 'faith' and the supernatural, which modernity recognises as simple cases of cognitive dissonance,... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Giles Penfold
5.0 out of 5 stars silence isn't always golden
It is characteristic of my introvert spirituality that I would avow waiting on God in silence and preferring said to over-dramatically sung acts of worship. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Mr. D. P. Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Rev. M. Appleyard
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As always a pleasure to read the writings of Mac Culloch .
Published 2 months ago by Rene S.
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening in the best way
I found this book completely fascinating. I assumed it would be a completely academic study, but the personal elements revealed in the introduction - where MacCulloch mentions... Read more
Published 2 months ago by emma who reads a lot
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid
Long ago, as a Methodist student minister, I listened to Diarmaid MacCulloch's intelligence and sanity, and it was uytterly ref

Long ago, as a Methodist student... Read more
Published 7 months ago by John Swarbrick
1.0 out of 5 stars STAY SILENT
Published 8 months ago by CENTRAL LONDON MAN
4.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly thorough examination of an oft ignored aspect of...
MacCulloch addresses a topic which all too often starts and ends with "Trappist" and sheds new light on the traditions of silence and contemplation in Christianity, weaving... Read more
Published 10 months ago by The Penguin
5.0 out of 5 stars Via Negetiva
Enjoyed reading this book as part of an exploration of negative theology. I have read several of Diarmaid's books and I am always
impressed with his total grasp of the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by bobgeorge
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting topic and not what I expected
I'm not sure what to say. I'm not religious by any means, but my family are and have read some of the Authors other works. Read more
Published 11 months ago by L. Thompson
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