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A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by [MacCulloch, Diarmaid]
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A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Review

'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

From the Inside Flap

Christianity, one of the world's great religions, has had an incalculable impact on human history. This book, now the most comprehensive and up to date single volume work in English, describes not only the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organisation and spirituality, but how it has changed politics, sex, and human society.

Diarmaid MacCulloch ranges from Palestine in the first century to India in the third, from Damascus to China in the seventh century and from San Francisco to Korea in the twentieth. He is one of the most widely travelled of Christian historians and conveys a sense of place as arrestingly as he does the power of ideas. He presents the development of Christian history differently from any of his predecessors. He shows how, after a semblance of unity in its earliest centuries, the Christian church divided during the next 1400 years into three increasingly distanced parts, of which the western Church was by no means always the most important: he observes that at the end of the first eight centuries of Christian history, Baghdad might have seemed a more likely capital for worldwide Christianity than Rome. This is the first truly global history of Christianity.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 75057 KB
  • Print Length: 1182 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (24 Sept. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002S0KB72
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,604 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating, magisterial, an absolute tour de force. The writing is superb and erudite. The book works perfectly on two levels: by providing the broad sweep of the history of the organized worship of Christ, but also revelling in the details that give the whole thing colour. The most familiar themes - monastacism, the split between East and West, the Reformation - are treated concisely yet comprehensively, but the real strength of the book is in giving the full flavour of the wider, less familiar churches in Africa, Asia and America. Those in Africa and Asia are of great historical interest, those in America still of great current importance, both in terms of the forms of religious belief and of politics. It is long, but the interest of the subject matter and the quality, wit and wisdom of the writing hold the reader's attention. Whether the book is tackled as a single epic or as individual sections, it is highly recommended for those who wish to no more about the ideas and organisation of the institutions and people that have made up the story of Christianity. It neither affirms Christian faith nor disparages it, which might put off some readers, although it is clearly not the purpose of the book to attempt either.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is quite simply a magnificent book. MacCulloch's scholarship, and his ability to synthesise and organise a vast amount of material, are truly remarkable. But equally impressive are the wisdom, humanity and occasional acerbic wit that he brings to the task. Time and again his approach results in a different and enlightening perspective on world history. As an non-believer, I feel that he is scrupulously fair to (and hence equally critical of) all sects and forms of Christian belief, now and in the past. But I imagine that this will sometimes make the book uncomfortable reading for some more ardent believers! Above all this is a terrific read, and one of the most engrossing history books I've yet come across.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well up to Professor MacCulloch's usual high standard. Penetrating, illuminating and written in an engaging and sometimes humorous manner, A must read for anyone interested in western culture and the primary influences on its development.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After all the plaudits which have been heaped upon this book, it seems presumptious of me to say anything. When I first saw it in a bookshop, I was overawed by its size, but after reading one particular review I was convinced that I should attempt it. The amazing amount of information is presented in an accessible form and it is a joy to read. There is a comprehensive bibliography; in some cases, one has the feeling that bibliographies are added to lend credibility to what may be a dubious 'agenda' to the book, but here that is not the case. Unfortunately, without access to a university library, it can be more tantalising than helpful. The illustrations are carefully chosen, and do their purpose:they illustrate the text appropriately. Perhaps my most positive comment is to say that no-one need, or should, be detered by the size; it would not be possible to do justice to the subject in anything less.
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By C. Ball TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm what you might call a slightly bewildered agnostic, but I've always had a particular interest in Christianity. So much of its own history - fragmented, argumentative and hypocritical - has always seemed to be at odds with much of Christ's core message, and I've never quit understood how so many Christians can fail to see that contradiction in their own faith's history. But this book, which is surely destined to become a classic in the field, goes a long way to explaining why Christianity has had so many schisms, so many sects and splinter groups, reformations and counter-reformations.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a non Christian I found this hard going from time to time. It was not always compulsive reading. Nevertheless having ploughed througn it and looking back on it, I find it immensely rewarding in the long term. It provided for me some understanding of such a diversity of beliefs,practices and forms of governance within the supposedly single tradition that I can only marvel at it. A very important framework in time and space within which much can be understood with a formidable and a very helpful reading list as a springboard for futher exploration of narrower specific interests. Tough but worth it.
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