The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity 200-1000 AD (Making of Europe) Paperback – 27 Nov 2002
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"Most scholars would have been content to let a book as fine as the first edition of The Rise of Western Christendom rest on its laurels. Not so Peter Brown. He has taken note of the recent outburst of scholarship in this field, and has produced a yet richer work, which, with its extended notes and bibliography, will prove to be a mine for scholars and students for years to come." Ian Wood, University of Leeds
"This outstanding revision of The Rise of Western Christendom will make this the book for the next generation and will stimulate countless revisions of long–accepted interpretations of the period 400–1000." Thomas F. X. Noble, University of Notre Dame
"[The first edition] was a historical masterpiece before. But the author′s mind has moved on: The second edition contains further development, has filled out a great deal of detail, revised much in the light of more recent work, and, especially, has made it very much more useful for serious students by providing references and notes." Robert Markus, University of Nottingham
"A new book by Peter Brown always makes my heart beat faster...The addition of a dazzling range of new scholarly material makes the book a far more thorough treatment...My students will be reading it." Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"In the second edition of his The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, AD 200–1000, Brown sets shimmering fragments of historical insight into a mosaic that is all the more splendid for its well–judged architecture, resulting in what may come to stand as the most satisfying contribution of an unusually distinguished career. With time, The Rise of Western Christendom may emerge as a milestone in the search for an account of the fall of Rome that genuinely breaks free of Gibbon′s spell." Kate Cooper, Times Literary Supplement.
"With its dexterous and confident handling of an array of subjects and disciplines, and its exhaustive and detailed endnotes and bibliography, this book has encapsulated and synthesized a burgeoning field of scholarship at the point of perhaps its greatest creativity and imagination" The Atlantic Monthly
"The Rise of Western Christendom is a work of uncommon originality, prodigious learning, and literary grace." Robert Louis Wilken, National Review
"It is an ashtonishing story, told in a way that keeps general themes clearly in sight while lovingly attending to the particularities of people, pracises and beliefs" First Choice
From the Back Cover
This book offers a vivid, compelling history of the first thousand years of Christianity. For the second edition, the book has been thoroughly rewritten and expanded. It includes two new chapters, as well as an extensive preface in which the author reflects on the scholarly traditions which have influenced his work and explains his current thinking about the book′s themes.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
This book, 'The Rise of Western Christendom', looks at the first 1000 years (the first half of Christian history). Despite its title, it does not focus exclusively on the idea of Christianity as a Western phenomenon. One of the great strengths of this historical survey, as opposed to many of the previous generation, is that it does not stop at the borders of Rome, nor does it take a linear progression approach to the history. Brown preserves the diversity inherent in the original church, showing the growth in Latin and Greek areas, as well as other areas that would arise such as the Antioch/Aleppo area, where Coptic and Syriac were significant languages, and art, architecture, liturgical development and scholarship thrived for centuries as a major centre for Christianity. Brown also discusses 'mirco-Christendoms', pockets both within and outside of the original Roman Imperial borders where Christianity was planted and grew more or less independently of central authority and direction.
To understand the history of Western Europe (of which this volume is part of a series on the topic), one must have a wider perspective than just the goings-on that took place on the European continental mainland. Indeed, from the very first lines, Brown starts with the city of Edessa, located in the ancient Fertile Crescent area, and the ancient capital of Ctesiphon, a city located very near modern-day Baghdad, which ruled a powerful empire that did not include any of the European continent, but which had profound influence over the peoples and empires on the European continent for centuries. Also included in Brown's history are peripheral figures - barbarians, farmers, frontierspeople - who often get overlooked in favour of the royal/imperial lines of history.
Brown looks both at individuals and institutions in his historical development and analysis. Individuals such as Augustine, the Cappadocian Fathers, Patrick, Clovis, Justinian and others are prominent, but the overall development of institutions and communities takes the larger portion of the text. There are major innovations such as monasticism and the rise of central church authorities and structures, and smaller institutions such as community governments. Brown includes the various tales of conversion for the different nations (the deliberations of the Icelanders, for example, versus the more forced conversions of the Norse) as well as the theological and administrative variations and homogenisation in the more central Mediterranean region. Brown also deals with the rise of Islam, the varying ways in which Christian communities and Muslim communities interacted and clashed, sometimes violently, but sometimes coming to mutually beneficial accords.
This is a book for students and scholars, although the general interest reader with a curiosity for church history and how it fits into the larger historical frame will also find this text useful. There are maps scattered throughout the text, as well as charts and tables. The book includes extensive endnotes for the scholar, but reading through the narrative does not depend upon them (saving one from having to flip back and forth endlessly). There is an appendix entitled 'Coordinated Chronological Tables' that traces the history from circa 100 - 1000, showing important events in the East, West, British Isles, and Scandanavia. A 44-page bibliography (one third primary sources, the rest secondary sources) and 27-page index round out the scholarship tools, making this an incredibly useful reference resource.
This book is often used at my seminary for the first half of church history, and is used at many schools (undergraduate and graduate level) for history courses generally. Brown's text is engaging and clear, easy to follow and well developed. It is a pleasure to read in addition to being interesting in material and presentation. Brown's text had both depth and breadth, not sacrificing one aspect for the other, but managing to hold both in good proportion to the other.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
If you're up to to a wonderful romp through the history of the early church, read this book, read parts of it a second time and then put it on your reference shelf because there isn't a better early Church history resource available.
The title is misleading since the author spends as much time discussing the Eastern Church as he does the Western one and that's okay because in so doing he is able to paint a more complete picture of what was happening in the different geographical regions and diverse cultures Christianity entered.
The author debunks a lot of myths and we learn that great hoards of barbarians did not sweep down from the North and in one mighty and overwhelming swoop conquer Rome. Beards, unleavened bread and the "Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father" and not the "Father and the Son" were not the only reasons for the split between the Eastern and Western Church and that split was a along time coming and a long time taking effect. Forget an exact date. It does not exist.
Clarifying historical events aside, Dr Brown provides the reader a well researched and clear picture of early Christianity and the major players who had a part in it. The sensitive student of the early church will wonder how God got so much accomplished during such a messy period.
If you are a student of world or Christian history, this is a must read book.
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