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Story Of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation [Paperback]

Justo L Gonzalez
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 30 2010

In The Story of Christianity: Volume 1, Justo L. González, author of the highly praised three-volume History of Christian Thought, presents a narrative history of Christianity, from the Early Church to the Dawn of the Protestant Reformation. From Jesus’ faithful apostles to the early reformist John Wycliffe, González skillfully traces core theological issues and developments within the various traditions of the church, including major events outside of Europe, such as the Spanish and Portuguese conquest of the New World. This updated and expanded edition incorporates recent archaeological discoveries about the life of Early Christian Communities, as well as important contemporary research revealing the significant role of women throughout the history of the church. With lively storytelling, The Story of Christianity provides a fascinating and panoramic history of the dramatic events, colorful characters, and revolutionary ideas that shaped the first fifteen centuries of the church.


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Story Of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation + The Story Of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day + The Documents of the Christian Church
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From the Back Cover

In this fully revised and updated edition, the lauded church historian Justo González tells the story of Christianity from its fragile infancy to its pervasive dominance at the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. The Story of Christianity, volume 1, relates the dramatic events, the colorful characters, and the revolutionary ideas that shaped the first fifteen centuries of the church's life and thought.

From Jesus's faithful apostles to the early reformist John Wycliffe, González skillfully weaves details from the lives of prominent figures tracing core theological issues and developments within the various traditions of the church. The Story of Christianity demonstrates at each point what new challenges and opportunities faced the church and how Christians struggled with the various options open to them, thereby shaping the future direction of the church.

This new edition of The Story of Christianity incorporates recent archaeological discoveries to give us a better view of the early Christian communities. Among these are advances in the recovery of Gnostic texts that have revealed a richer diversity of "Christianities" in the first century. González also includes important research done in the past twenty-five years revealing the significant role of women throughout the history of the church.

With lively storytelling incorporating the latest research, The Story of Christianity provides a fascinating introduction to the panoramic history of Christianity.

About the Author

Justo L. González, retired professor of historical theology and author of the highly praised three-volume History of Christian Thought, attended United Seminary in Cuba and was the youngest person to be awarded a Ph. D in historical theology at Yale University. Over the past thirty years he has focused on developing programs for the theological education of Hispanics, and he has received four honorary doctorates.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
For a long time, the Protestant paradigm was that the church had been completely corrupted somewhere around the time of Constantine, and that Christian history was completely fallen until the Reformation, over 1000 years later. This book does away with that myth, and does an excellent job of demonstrating some of the continuous strains that bind contemporary Christianity with orthodox Christianity throughout the millennium and a half preceding the Protestant Reformation.

Its strongest points are found in its consideration of Constantine, its deep look at the monastic movement (which is often demonized by Protestants, including Luther), and its consideration of the early reformation movements which were genuinely attempting to reform, rather than divorce from, the Catholic Church.

The book was also very effectively written, done in such a way that almost anyone could pick it up and read sections of it without trouble. However, despite the fact that it is very readable for the majority of the time, there are stretches where the author attempts to consider entire stretches of history. These sections can be incredibly detailed and very tough to read through, which sometimes killed the momentum of the book. Also, as an academic, I was a little concerned with how invisible his process of citation was. It would have been nicer to have some solid endnote referencing to ensure that he really was drawing from reliable sources, although I have little doubt that that is the case judging by the complex and helpful way that he presents Christian history.

I look forward to reading more in part 2!
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Format:Paperback
This is part of a course that I am doing on the history of Christianity. Often books like this are rather heavy going but, I am finding this one an interesting and informative read. The author has an easy style of writing which makes this book very readable and a good start for anyone just begining their journey into the history of the Christian faith.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read Sept. 27 2011
By Lamy
Format:Paperback
This book is very readable and makes history fairly interesting. The only down-side is that it is a bit thin on the philosophical side.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Resource for Beginners Sept. 26 2011
By Lindsey M. Keeling - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have assigned this book to the undergraduates (mostly sophomores) in my Early Christian Writings class as a narrative accompaniment to primary sources. On the one hand, it is helpful in giving students the big picture, as it provides all of the key names and dates of early Christianity, and its simple language is easy to process. On the other hand, its radical oversimplification of complex issues is at times misleading, and I occasionally have to trouble Gonzalez's interpretation so that the undergraduates get a fuller and more complicated picture of Christian development. At other times, the author's bias is too readily apparent: for example, he calls Marcus Aurelius "superstitious" (which is no doubt the same word Marcus Aurelius would have used for the Christians, as Pliny does in his correspondence with Trajan). Finally, I have found at least one factual error, as Gonzalez claims that Philip was the apostle whose authority Constantinople claimed; in fact, Andrew was Constantinople's apostle. While I find these difficulties with the book troubling, I will probably continue to assign it to my undergraduates on account of its accessibility, affordable cost, and the many pictures that liven up the reading. But I will be on the lookout for something better.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Dec 24 2011
By Will Riddle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have a stack of church history books in my personal library, and many others that cover this period, not to mention having studied this material in seminary. Gonzalez' work is undoubtedly the best of those. He has a remarkable gift: He is able to bring insights about the underlying processes at work in church history without actually needing to focus on them. He is able to discuss all of the major figures and movements of church history without making it seem laborious. He displays his depth by often bringing in details that are outside of the common narrative, but which supplement our understanding of the era, how and why the church develops -- not just names and place. I can think of few other writers with this talent. It's as easy to read as Church History in Plain Language, 3rd Edition but with rich insights like A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 (Revised)

What this has meant for me is a deeper insight into church history while at the same time having a fun read. As for his perspective, Gonzalez is very even handed in volume I, however in volume II his bias as a liberal-leaning but believing protestant really comes through. He has an animus against anglo-protestant evangelicals and he writes that into his history. Which if you share that bias, it may be the perfect book for you. Regardless, volume I is fabulous no matter what perspective you are coming from and I highly recommend it!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great as a first serious introduction to Church History April 30 2013
By T. Aznavourian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Gonzalez' magnum opus (so far) "The Story of Christianity", covers the background and setting in which Christianity developed historically. It is an interesting look into the primary figures and events that shaped Christian doctrine and practices as well as how Christianity affected the world around it.

Although Gonzalez is a professed Protestant, I personally did not find any blatant bias within the text itself. Gonzalez creates a strong narrative using the facts available, which should entice readers of any persuasion to delve further into Church History (especially Jaroslav Pelikan's history).

The only drawback of the book is that it possibly could have spent more time developing what happened between Pentecost and the establishment of the Nicene Church. However, it is impossible for a book to be all things to all people, so this is not as much a criticism as it is a comment.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved most of it July 23 2013
By Vince - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was great, there was an excellent flow and the author is able to go into strong detail without taking the reader away from the overall narrative of what was happening throughout the years of early Christianity. When i started reading i knew i would be giving this book a five star rating, until i got to the Dark Ages. The book really slowed down, which isn't necessarily the author's fault because he was staying true to what was happening during that time. However, I felt it was over extended and it made me put the book down when I originally had trouble doing so. I thought some of those later chapters could be condensed and that is why i ended with a four star rating instead of five. But other than that, it was a book i greatly enjoyed and learned much from. I especially enjoyed when the author dedicated chapters to individual church leaders. Again, i learned a lot and it gave me a greater desire to study the early church fathers since the writer brings the reader into a connection with them.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 1st book on my Christian History Dec 21 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not an academic, so this was a big undertaking for me, having been a Christian most of my life I recently attended an Orthodox Church for a couple of months, while I'm not saying anything good or bad about the Orthodox style of faith, what I realized after attending this church was that I was very challenged by a very different approach to Christianity. So is it right, is it wrong? What kind of church was really being experienced by the 1st century believer? I had no idea. Where, from what process has my idea of Christianity come from? I had no idea - after reading this book I can at least say that I now have at least a basic sense of how this thing called Christianity got here, that is at least to the reformation.
I liked Justo's objective approach, he just presented the facts. Wasn't trying to convince me of a certain point of view, other than history is full of people being totally committed to God in a really good way never getting their picture in the paper and a lot of people that being in a position of Church authority were .... terrible!
The book was not too much of a college level read, like when you really have to fight your way through the book, or give up half way through it.
We talk about miracles, reading this book makes me realize that it's a major miracle that either Christianity survived through the centuries or that God put up with us "Christians" all this time.
So I'm looking forward to Volume 2- see you all on the other side of that.
Enjoy
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