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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An overview of Christian diversity
This is an excellent introduction to the sheer diversity of Christian faith and practice in the world today. Linda Woodhead suggests that it is helpful to explore this diversity by exploring the three main traditions of Christianity within a historical context: those which emphasise the primacy of church authority (Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism); those which place...
Published on 15 Oct 2006 by R. Percival

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25 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I was wholly disappointed with this book, the series as a whole is brilliant but if you are genuinely interested in Christianity and finding out what Christians believe, this book really is not very helpful. It devotes little space to the central messages of Christianity and without this focus, there can be no coherent analysis of Christian practises. By quoting passasges...
Published on 17 May 2005


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An overview of Christian diversity, 15 Oct 2006
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R. Percival "Robin Percival" (Derry, Ireland (N) United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This is an excellent introduction to the sheer diversity of Christian faith and practice in the world today. Linda Woodhead suggests that it is helpful to explore this diversity by exploring the three main traditions of Christianity within a historical context: those which emphasise the primacy of church authority (Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism); those which place emphasis on the authority of the bible (most mainstream protestant churches such as Lutherans and Methodists) and the much smaller tradition of those wich emphasise the primacy of the spirit (of which the Society of Friends is a good example.) Like all attempts at a typology, the reality is that the edges of blurred as these emphases are not mutually exclusive.
This is not a book for those who want to read a defence of Christianity nor does it "come down" on the side of any one view of Christianity, which has clearly annoyed one previous reviewer. It is a book written by a first rate scholar of religion who wants to provide an easy to read, engaging, sympathetic book about the origins, growth and diversity of perhaps the world's largest religion. She has achieved her goals magnificently!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tidying up Christianity, 15 May 2009
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Mr. P. G. Mccarthy (Southampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
In an important sense writing a very short introduction to Christianity is virtually impossible. The books on Christianity in a University library run into thousands (with many on the New Testament, Contemporary Theology, the Crusades, Reformation, ethics, the Inquisition, patristics, martyrology, ecclesiology and so on); condensing this kind of information into a meaningful little book is an immense task as it involves a high degree of selection and omission; also, what is included is unlikely to receive much treatment; the Reformation, for example, has three and a half pages. Linda Woodhead manages to strike a good balance though whilst also raising relevant questions.

In discussing the significance of Jesus, she touches upon the synoptic problem and introduces the idea of there being many other 'gospels' of a more 'gnostic' or even feminist, nature. She also has very good discussions on the way that divine power is transmitted from God, through a male priesthood in the traditional types of Christianity (the theme of gender runs all through the book). Her main thesis is that Christianity can be braodly analysed into a typology of three types: Church Christianity, Biblical Christianity, and Mystical Christianty. This typology is helpful I think as it is hard to think of many traditions that fall entirely outside of it, though some will contain elements of all three.

Her section on gender is the most engaging I think as she discusses ways in which a traditionally male dominated religion might be attractive to women; all quite provocative.

Woodhead seems to have a very broad view of mysticism that even included Pentecostalism. I felt that this was quite far from the mark. Also, when discussing the Holy Spirit, she lapses into referring to the Spirit as 'it'. The concern is not whether or not the Spirit exists or whether she believes, it is simply not the way the Spirit is conceived to be within the tradition. She also says that for charismatics and pentecostals, salvation is sealed by the baptism of the Spirit and the reception of spiritual gifts; this is simply wrong; they accept all the fundamentals of an evangelical Church. But I want to praise the book, not bury it. It is an excellent introduction and really quite an achievement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity a Very Short Introduction, 17 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Fast professional P&P. Great book for Open University Course on Religion. Slim, compact and easy to read book on the basics of Christianity, highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 July 2014
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All the very short introductions series are brilliant and informative
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview, 27 Jun 2013
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This book is an excellent overview of the history of Christianity, very interesting, particularly in relation to women's relationship with a male dominated religion. I wanted to know a little more about the history of this and other religions and so I looked for a course with the Open University. The Open University very helpfully listed the books used in its course A217, "Introducing Religions". I shall now read the others
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Short Introduction - Christianity, 8 April 2013
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Very well constructed book which is both informative and a good read. The content is well structured and easy to understand, just as an subject introduction should be.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book on Christian history., 19 May 2006
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This book is very good for looking at developments in Christian history and elements of theology, but it is not the book to read if you want to find out what Christians BELIEVE in"jargon-free" English, or how they worship.
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25 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 17 May 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I was wholly disappointed with this book, the series as a whole is brilliant but if you are genuinely interested in Christianity and finding out what Christians believe, this book really is not very helpful. It devotes little space to the central messages of Christianity and without this focus, there can be no coherent analysis of Christian practises. By quoting passasges from the Bible without considering their context, a somewhat distorted view is given, particularly in respect to the Biblical teachings on women. Whilst the views given may represent the ideas of a minority of Christians, they are certainly not a fair reflection of Christianity as a whole as found in the Bible.
If you want an introduction to Christian beliefs, a book like "Christianity Explored" by Rico Tice and Barry Cooper, gives a better, jargon-free analysis. I certainly found it very helpful.
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Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Linda Woodhead (Paperback - 25 Nov 2004)
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