❄ [EPUB] ✼ A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years By Diarmaid MacCulloch ➝ – Horse-zine.co.uk

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years chapter 1 A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, meaning A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, genre A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, book cover A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, flies A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years ff680d333a88c The Author Of The Reformation Returns With The Definitive History Of Christianity For Our Time Once In A Generation A Historian Will Redefine His Field, Producing A Book That Demands To Be Read A Product Of Electrifying Scholarship Conveyed With Commanding Skill Diarmaid MacCulloch S Christianity Is Such A Book Ambitious, It Ranges Back To The Origins Of The Hebrew Bible Covers The World, Following The Three Main Strands Of The Christian Faith Christianity Will Teach Modern Readers Things That Have Been Lost In Time About How Jesus Message Spread How The New Testament Was Formed It Follows The Christian Story To All Corners Of The Globe, Filling In Often Neglected Accounts Of Conversions Confrontations In Africa Asia It Discovers The Roots Of The Faith That Galvanized America, Charting The Rise Of The Evangelical Movement From Its Origins In Germany England This Book Encompasses All Of Intellectual History We Meet Monks Crusaders, Heretics Saints, Slave Traders Abolitionists, Discover Christianity S Essential Role In Driving The Enlightenment The Age Of Exploration, Shaping The Course Of WWI WWIIWe Live In A Time Of Tremendous Religious Awareness, When Both Believers Non Believers Are Engaged By Questions Of Religion Tradition, Seeking To Understand The Violence Sometimes Perpetrated In The Name Of God The Son Of An Anglican Clergyman, MacCulloch Writes With Feeling About Faith His Last Book, The Reformation, Was Chosen By Dozens Of Publications As Best Book Of The Year Won The Nat L Book Critics Circle Award This Inspiring Follow Up Is A Landmark New History Of The Faith That Continues To Shape The World


10 thoughts on “A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

  1. says:

    What religion am I asks Homer Simpson in one episode of his family s eponymous cartoon I m the one with all the well meaning rules that don t work out in real life uh Christianity One of the many pleasures in Diarmaid MacCulloch s amazingly comprehensive book is getting a handle on what historical basis there is for the rules and doctrines of this prolific and mercurial religion, which nowadays seems characterized by extreme reactions of either perfect secular indifference or increasingly literalist devotion.There are excellent books available for all kinds of angles on this story, but a single volume history of the whole lot seems crazily ambitious I think MacCulloch has done a beautiful job, and let s note the fact that anything which is acclaimed by both Christopher Hitchens and the Archbishop of Canterbury as being the definitive work of its kind must be doing something right What makes it particularly impressive is that it combines a clear explanation of the usual theological debates of the early Church with a very wide ranging, internationalist scope that also has perceptive things to say about Christianity s survival and development in Ethiopia, or why it succeeded in Korea but failed in Japan.Though MacCulloch is too even handed to build a cumulative argument out of this story, the theme that emerges for me is the constant interplay between Christianity s interior, metaphorical truths, and the factual historicity of the information by which such truths have been communicated This is related to a crucial duality present from the very start Jewish and Christian traditions want to say at the same time that God has a personal relationship with individual human beings and that he is also beyond all meaning, all characterization.In part this comes from the dual heritage of Christianity, which is well encapsulated by this book s provocative subtitle, The First Three Thousand Years The first 70 pages trace the Greek philosophical traditions of thinking about divinity the Platonic idea of a remote, unknowable God which became fused with Judaic tradition in an uneasy but dynamic relationship that is unique to Christianity.One result of this, after the Enlightenment, has been a hyper literalist defence of religion which in modern times can be seen, especially in the US, in the uneducated flourishing of Creationism MacCulloch, who demonstrates well that there is no surer basis for fanaticism than bad history , gives such concepts short shrift The modern conservative Christian and Islamic fashion of Creationism is no than a set of circular logical arguments, and Creationist science has been unique among modern aspirations to scientific systems in producing no original discoveries at all.Quite and yet, despite referring to modern fashion , one thing this narrative shows is that polarities of literalism and metaphoricity have always been there In the second century, Marcion of Sinope was already writing commentaries on Biblical scriptures which denied any but the most literal interpretations while his contemporary Origen could write such opposite things as this Who is so silly as to believe that God, after the manner of a farmer, planted a paradise eastward in Eden, and set in it a visible and palpable tree of life, of such a sort that anyone who tasted its fruit with his bodily teeth would gain life MacCulloch notes drily Origen might be saddened to find that seventeen hundred years later, millions of Christians are that silly And yet neither of these theologians really won out both saw their writings declared heretical, and the official Churches have maintained an uneasy balance between the two ever since Reading this, it s impossible to escape a sense of arbitrariness about such decisions among early religious authorities.This is particularly true when it comes to the bewildering array of theological debates over what exactly was meant by such counter intuitive doctrines as the Trinity, or Christ s divinity It s instructive to consider how little modern Christians think about such things, given their central importance to early thinkers Were the three persons of the Trinity separate substances, or one substance manifested in three different essences The difference was almost wholly semantic, and yet people fought and died over it Did Christ have two distinct natures, fully human and fully divine, or did he have one composite nature which blended human with divine The question was fought over with a violence and vehemence that now seems incredible Those involved would be amazed to know that many modern Christians are probably not sure of the right answers to these questions.While MacCulloch is bracingly clear on the arbitrary nature of many of these doctrines, he is also often critical of modern revisionism he offers a reminder, for instance, that Gnosticism, far from being a kind of early New Age mysticism, was generally much ascetic and authoritarian than mainstream Christianity was Similarly, a text like 1 Timothy 2 12, often pounced on by the anti religious because its patriarchal ideas seem so opposed to modern values, is here given a far interesting and nuanced reading One has always to remember that throughout the New Testament we are hearing one side of an argument When the writer to Timothy inisists with irritating fussiness that I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men she is to keep silent , we can be sure that there were women doing precisely the opposite, who were probably not slow in asserting their own point of view But their voices are lost.One thing that this book creates is a deep awareness of just how different things might easily have been, had a few decisions gone the other way It is fascinating to realise, for example, that if Islam had not suddenly exploded across the Middle East, the centre of Christendom in the Middle Ages would almost certainly have moved east to the region of Iraq, rather than west to Rome MacCulloch is especially good on the interplay between these two faiths, offering such titbits as the fact that Islamic minarets may well have come about in imitation of Christian stylites the early Orthodox monks who lived their lives on top of pillars Such fascinating windows on history and belief are thrown open right the way through to the modern day, revealing such unexpected delights as the fact that most Christians among the Maasai in southern Africa think of God as a woman.It s hard to find much fault with this book, although there will always be sections where the narrative flags a little, depending on where your interests lie I thought the tone was exemplary in the words of Rowan Williams, who reviewed it for the Guardian, it is neither uncritical nor hostile , which is no small achievement in itself In one of his most felicitous phrases, MacCulloch describes Christianity at one point as a marginal branch of Judaism whose founder left no known written works Such a faith is always going to be a struggle between different interpretations, leading to a term Christianity which can embrace the incense swung around an Orthodox icon, the speaking in tongues of a Pentecostalist, the resonant stone slabs which call faithful Ethiopians to prayer, and indeed the breezy indifference of Homer Simpson If any book can give you a sense of how such diversity developed, and what it can possibly have in common it s this one.


  2. says:

    This book should have been called Christianity A Speculative History from a Somewhat Antagonistic Viewpoint I only read the first 150 pages, plenty far enough to understand how MacCulloch feels about Christianity Most of the book is, by nature, extrapolation based on a very fragmented set of documents and conflicting histories, but MacCulloch is always overanxious to undermine Christianity by taking huge leaps of speculation and is never, at least that I saw in the first 150 pages, willing to remain neutral or actually go the other direction.I found his writing style to be good and the idea for the book is fantastic I m fully prepared to deal with problems in history and with the faults of Christians throughout history, but I m not willing to read a book by an author I feel I can t trust or have to constantly second guess Because of that, the bits of information I gleaned are all mentally footnoted as being something to go back and verify from a less biased source.Here are a few examples Yet at the heart of the Egypt and Exodus story is something which no subsequent Israelite fantasist would have wished to make up, because it is an embarrassment the hero and leader of the Exodus, the man presented as writing the Pentateuch itself, has a name which is not only non Jewish but actually Egyptian Moses My response is that if the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years is it so surprising and embarrassing that they d eventually adopt Egyptian names If the implication is that Moses was actually Egyptian, why doesn t MacCulloch just say that It wouldn t be the longest logical jump he makes in the book.Later, this is what MacCulloch concludes about the Beatitudes There is nothing gentle, meek or mild about the driving force behind these stabbing inversions of normal expectations They form a code of life which is a chorus of love directed to the loveless or unlovable, of painful honesty expressing itself with embarrassing directness, of joyful rejection of any counsel suggesting careful self regard or prudence That, apparently, is what the Kingdom of God is like Really Only the most literalistic reading of such a poetic passage could lead to such an imbecilic interpretation MacCulloch makes similar mistakes of interpretation of various other passages in the New Testament, notably in the Lord s Prayer and the command to leave the dead to bury their dead When writing about the resurrected Christ note, resurrected he says, He repeatedly appeared to those who had known him, in ways which confused and contradicted the laws of physics Again, we are talking about a ressurected being Why is physics even relevant When he refers to Paul and his desire to teach of salvation through Christ alone, MacCulloch phrases it this way Paul managed to find a proper in the Tanakh to sum up what he wanted to say This comes across as incredibly condescending, to take for granted that Paul was just manipulating the Tanakh to justify his message If MacCulloch had left out managed to find and replaced it with found it would have made all the difference It is maybe a small infraction on its own, but it was, for me, the last straw.In a way, I m really disappointed to stop reading this The parts of the book that talk about the origins of the Old Testament and the influence of Socrates and Aristotle on Christianity are great The discussion of differing ideas of Satan, comparisons of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, ideas on prophecy and life after death in the Old Testament and the obsession with the virginity of Mary are all fascinating For now though, I m done I don t have time to verify every reference and I don t trust MacCulloch to give it to me straight.


  3. says:

    It took three library renewals to get through this book and thanks to an ice storm, the fifth this year , I still owe the library a one day fine, a whole nickel that they thank you for and dump in a desk drawer with a bunch of rubber bands, and I love living in the country and having that library , and then work kind of slammed me a little, so it s just been sitting there languishing on my currently reading shelf for two weeks And in all that time I still haven t come up with something deeply insightful or clever to say I keep coming up with jokes, like, You know what they say, An atheist is just someone who s studied their religion Honestly, this book was really very good It s history, which I love, and religious history, which utterly fascinates me with the scale and grandeur of brutality people are willing to inflict on other people in the name of charity and salvation The whole book which kept switching from the macro to the micro with expert timing, by the way I just kept picturing all of this three thousand year saga, a hiccup on the evolutionary timescale, playing out from the vast vantage point of elsewhere in our galaxy, where we re not even a blip of starlight in deep space And if it didn t seem petty before, well.Back down on an earthly scale or not even that, on a continent s scale, country by country the epic and the exhaustive scope of MacCulloch s research has to be praised I can t imagine taking on a scholarship of that magnitude It s just bewildering in breadth, and meticulous in detail All told, though, I much preferred Robert Wright s The Evolution of God not because it does the subject justice, but because it deals with the slightly different angle the actual evolution of the anthropological and sociological aspects of a religion, as well as what is worshipped within it that is far fascinating to me For a history of the church, though, you couldn t do much better than this without devoting your time in semester sized chunks, and maybe not even then.Honestly, to hold onto the mystery and conviction of a religion don t study its history.


  4. says:

    This is a monumental piece of work by an erudite scholar It covers the whole range of Christian history from its roots in Judaism to modern day As a starting point it delves into the Old Testament contrasting it s God jehovah a jealous and vengeful God with the loving God that sacrifices his son in the New Testament.It shows the rise of Christianity from an obscure Jewish sect, through the rebranding by St Paul, and on to an established state religion It is a truly astonishing journey Throughout its history Christianity evolves, slewing off new offshoots whilst some early established churches wither and die particularly in the middle east and central asia Modern Christianity is the largest and most dynamic religion in the world I must confess that I got lost at times in trying to comprehend the infinitesimal gradations in interpretations of the substance of God and the trinity that has caused so much trouble in early Christianity, and also in the bewildering array of different churches and shades of thought in later times Considering that this book comprises a thousand pages it rattles along, and subjects are introduced and dealt with succinctly, though not superficially, before we get to the next topic A good book


  5. says:

    This book is seriously insane I m only halfway through and we ve already covered Rome, early popes, African christians, the Orthodox Church, the beginnings of various brotherhoods and convents, ways to pray, Constantine, early theologians and philosophers, pergatory, the energy of God I can t list everything The only issue I have is that it s just too much at once This is the perfect book for someone studying theology.The Virgin Mary, the Tartars, the reformation and restoration, Martin Luther, Methodist and baptist churches, celebration by slaves, French Revolutionv, Bible Production, Free Masons, Quakers, witches, missionaries, Jesuits, the end of the British empire, Bonhoeffer, the Nazi regime, Pentocostalism, teaching evolution, apartheid the list is endless


  6. says:

    This is a rather astonishing overview of the history of Christianity An ambitious subject to handle in one volume, and the author does a fine job as discussing the most disparate strands of this almost universal faith The title seems a bit odd at first, considering Christianity is only two thousand years old But the author does not skimp at first, covering the Platonic and Hebraic traditions and how they affected the background of early Christianity One of the interesting assertions is how Christianity spread into the Middle East and North Africa, in a different form than either Orthodox or Catholic Christianity Of course, this changed rapidly after the meteoric rise of Islam The predominance of Roman Catholicism in the West was by no means assured in the earlier period And it splinters and splits and feuds Dozens of sects and wars It s humbling and rather sad So many heresies and papal bulls it s almost hard to keep track Killing in the name of peace Yet the author somehow makes it easy His tone is distantly affectionate, yet skeptical Another interesting analysis is how Christianity spread in the modern world For example a form of Presbyterianism became an essential part of Korean national identity, as a means of rebelling from Chinese influence As a result, South Korea is one of the most Christian nations in Asia, second only to the Philippines There is also the issue of how Christianity has reacted and counterreacted against movements of social reform, humanism, and the later 20th century, somehow surviving them all Of course, some aspects of conduct were less than exemplary ex The Catholic Church not allowing the use of condoms, even against STDs, and their snubbing liberation theology and some were rather progressive ex The same Catholic Church broadening pro life to be anti war as well as a position on reproductive rights.Of course, because it is so huge and divergent, that is precisely why it is impossible to characterize the whole Christian population Of course there are some aspects which could use further exploration But there is still so much here, that this will be a solid reference for any interested scholar, skeptic or true believer.


  7. says:

    This is a very good history It depresses me a bit because it is written in the cynical, anti establishment style which is typical of the educated elite today, but it is valuable for its quality and the insight which it offers regarding the multitude of different takes on Christianity most of them sincere and justified, none of them isolated from political expediency which were the fruit of the early Church Its quite humbling for those who maintain the correct doctrines and at the same time gives one the justification for preferring the views that one holds Oddly enough the last word in a huge tome seems to tell that it is, of all things, the doctrine of original sin that gives Christianity its most promising hope for continued relevance into the future


  8. says:

    MacCulloch makes reading exhaustive history exhilarating rather than exhausting, and although everyone will have a favourite nit to pick mine being the dubious treatment of Hegel, and the absence of anything about Erigena only the most die hard partisan could claim that this is anything other than brilliant Ignore anyone who tells you it s anti insert your own sect here , and read it Take your time And I m sure you ll be mining the recommended reading section at the back of the book before you ve finished chapter 7, at the latest What I want to know is how MacCulloch manages to tell a linear story in a way that doesn t pervert the thematic content or maybe he s written a thematically arranged book which doesn t pervert the temporal changes In either case, a great relief from most long histories which are full either of repetition or of anachronies Finally, I would guess that this is the only perspective from which such a book could be written son of a clergyman, friend of but not believer in the religion, who obviously nonetheless cares greatly not only about its history, but also about its survival Avoid, of course, if you want a biased, slanted interpretation of any given point.


  9. says:

    As a double priests kid both my parents were Anglican clergy an assumption was usually made that I knew quite a bit about Christianity This was not accurate as I neither had much interest in the subject, nor access to a decent history about the faith MacCulloch has rectified this with A History Of Christianity Detailed yet readable, he takes an unbiased look at both the good and bad of the religion, never apologizing for either He also doesn t ignore the spiritual, faith aspect of his subject matter, explaining it as some of the rationale of Christians actions, yet not subscribing to it either Highly recommended for anyone interested in religion and its effect on society.


  10. says:

    This book may be too ambitious It claims to cover three thousand years of global history, but it does so sketchily, most of its focus being on, first, the Middle East and, second, Europe and America The Britishness of the author is clear as is the fact that he himself is not a Christian The content ranges from the breezy, as in his descriptions of modern trends, to the dense, as in his treatment of the controversies animating the earliest church councils Most readers will find parts of it objectionable or, perhaps, find its omissions so.Still, it is not a bad read MacCulloch writes well enough, peppering his tale with occasional amusing anecdotes or light sprinklings of wit and sarcasm I found none of it boring and some of it, most particularly his treatment of Christianity in sub Saharan Africa, informative.My greatest objection to this enormous undertaking is that MacCulloch offered very little insight to the mysteries of the Christian faith From my perspective, such mysteries are those elements of Christian belief that appear to fly in the face of experience, reason and common sense How was it, for instance, that people murdered other people over questions of the exact nature of the the procession of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity or for any number of other to me at least obscure reasons That they did so is fact Why they said they did so is often on record MacCulloch reports on these matters well enough What he doesn t do is offer insight into the real interests and passions involved, into the psychologies of those people I want, in other words, a book that makes such concerns real to me, rather than just another at a distance description of the surfaces of history.


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