27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
sceptical yet respectful,
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This review is from: A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (Hardcover)
Its 1000 pages are probably not for the faint-hearted, but MacCulloch's book obviously will take you much deeper than his recent excellent TV series, and I'm glad I persevered with his book. He is very interesting on the early centuries of Christianity, its links with ideas and philosophies from Greek and Roman times, and its many forms and the way it spread eastwards initially. Certainly he demolished the impression of a Rome-dominated church that many of us may have of pre-Reformation times. For me he explained very clearly many concepts and ideas I'd come across in earlier reading - about heresy, for instance - and showed me many interesting connections and links which had never occurred to me. What came over most strongly, however, for me, was just how quickly the essentials got lost or were overshadowed by sordid politicking and jostling for power and influence by those who found Christianity a convenient tool for advancing themselves. Then when well-meaning people repeatedly tried to re-connect with the roots of the faith, lo and behold, they were heretics!
I know I oversimplify; there's so much in this book that every reader will get something different from it. And ultimately comes the affirmation that there is clearly something in the original message that has led to its survival...