Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years Paperback – Feb 22 2011
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Praise for Christianity
“Immensely ambitious and absorbing.”
—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
“A landmark contribution . . . It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive and surprisingly accessible volume than MacCulloch’s.”
—Jon Meacham, The New York Times Book Review
“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
“A tour de force: it has enormous range, is gracefully and wittily written, and from page one holds the attention. Everyone who reads it will learn things they didn’t know.”
—Eamon Duffy, author of Saints and Sinners
“MacCulloch brings an insider’s wit to tracing the fate of official Christianity in an age of doubt, and to addressing modern surges of zeal, from Mormons to Pentecostals.”
“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. It will have few, if any, rivals in the English language.”
—Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
“A well-informed and—bless the man—witty narrative guaranteed to please and at the same time displease every single reader, if hardly in identical measure. . . . The author’s prose style is fluent, well-judged, and wholly free of cant. . . . You will shut this large book with gratitude for a long and stimulating journey.”
—The Washington Times
“A tour de force . . . The great strength of the book is that it covers, in sufficient but not oppressive detail, huge areas of Christian history which are dealt with cursorily in traditional accounts of the subject and are unfamiliar to most English-speaking readers. . . . MacCulloch’s analysis of why Christianity has taken root in Korea but made such a hash in India is perceptive and his account of the nineteenth-century missions in Africa and the Pacific is first-rate and full of insight. . . . The most brilliant point of this remarkable book is its identification of the U.S. as the prime example of the kind of nation the reformers hoped to create.”
—Paul Johnson, The Spectator
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Top Customer Reviews
A. Christianity is both a spiritually complex and historically dynamic religion which, in its many forms, continues to profoundly impact on all cultures of the world;
B. The prophetic utterances of old announced the coming of Messiah to deliver the Jewish people from the hand of the oppressor. It is that message, originally intended for the Jew, that became the essence of the Christian gospel, through the death and ressurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and spread to the four corners of the globe over two thousand years;
C. Along the way, there are many special defining moments that will come as a bit of a shock to some of us accustomed to seeing history as a straight-line progression going from East to West. It is Macculloch's belief that various branches of Christianity, in the form of the Nestorian and Miaphysite movements, moved east into Asia over the centuries following Christ's ministry and the founding of the Jerusalem Church. The historical record shows that these monastic movements made extensive inroads into cultures as faraway as India and central China;
D. Everything that is remotely Christian is discussed as part of the ever changing face of Christianity.Read more ›
The title alone is interesting - reflecting as it does the many ideas and beliefs of Greeks and Hebrews which became woven into Christianity - because it puts Christianity, quite properly, into a longer term, pre-Christian history rather than the naïve notion that Christianity arose suddenly, "out of whole cloth," as it were, almost like something not of this world.
I had heard an interview with the author on CBC Radio, and he said several intriguing things. I especially liked his explanation of Jesus's calling his follower, Peter, a rock, a concept which taken literally is one of the great assumptions of Roman Catholicism and its being headquartered in Rome, the legendary site of Peter's martyrdom. The author said it was intended as sarcasm, and that idea immediately humanizes Jesus with a sense of humor.
After all, we all know from Sunday school classes of years ago that Peter had denied knowing Jesus, not just once but three times. Hardly the character you'd describe as a rock providing a secure foundation.
Someone who could offer that kind of anecdote had to be worth reading.
And there is much in the book readers will enjoy or from which they will learn.
I do think the vast scope of the task of summarizing efficiently three thousand years of developments somewhat eluded the author. My instincts said he gave too many words to some things and too few to others.
There are a great many names of relatively unimportant figures in this book which seem tossed in almost out of some desire for completeness. At the same time there are figures or events or movements which are treated in a cursory manner.Read more ›
However, it is book which one can either slowly read, page-by-page, or dip into judiciously or with mere curiosity. The dipping-in is possible because the topics are arranged in broad clusters or Parts, further divided into sections and yet further subtopics, but often in one topic area or period the author brings together other periods, church events or people, giving the reader a meaningful explanation of some aspect of the development of Christianity. This does create a long book, and some repetition I would think, but it makes it very readable,like a conversation.
The sections on the early Church and the Eastern Church are fascinating, as this reader discovered the origin of doctrinal and liturgical differences among them all and even a quirk in translation of the Lord's Prayer (check out the topic in the wonderfully complete Index for an interesting surprise on "daily bread".
Most recent customer reviews
It is a lot of reading-- some parts flow really well others are a little slower.. Just like lifePublished 10 days ago by Pamela Harris
This is a very interesting book, but a difficult read. The author writes in a rambling, British-style of prose that is not clear, direct, or concise. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. Clinton Birnbaum
Outstanding book from which I learned tons about the history of the western world (not just). Will re-read.Published 6 months ago by Wes Rann Swinfen
The book's in depth look at the history of the church is invaluable. It's also interesting. Everybody should read it.Published on Oct. 8 2013 by Marci Wilson
This book is required reading for a course I am taking. The course doesn't start until mid-September so too early to review.Published on Aug. 6 2013 by Ann Barry