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.
I am sure I will find issues in which I disagree with MacCulloch, but that's the nature of historical research and reflection upon it. One reviewer writes of MacCulloch's anti-Catholic bias, but I have not got that far into the book, and may update this review later. However, so far, I think it is a fair and sensitive history of the subject that brings the reader up-to-date with contemporary research.
In short, this book and its accompanying DVD are worth buying for anyone who has an interest in the history of Christianity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It doesn't matter whether you have a faith or not, if you want a better understanding of factors influencing these belief systems, then this is the book for you. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jeffrey G. Walters
This may well be a 5 star book, I'm not really qualified to judge it. Coming to it as a layman, I found it extremely hard going. Read morePublished 1 month ago by inaname
Quite a demanding but rewarding read... full of very interesting insights into the birth and growth of this faith...Published 2 months ago by Peter A. Dearnley
Very poor from the author. he failed to understand Lord Jesus Christ and the Church tradition. This man tries very hard to prove, Jesus is not Lord and Christ. Read morePublished 3 months ago by alex