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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Owen Chadwick was a professor of modern history at Cambridge from the 1960s to the 1980s. He has written extensively on issues in the history of Christianity, which include 'The Reformation' (now in its 20th edition -- a remarkable number!), 'The Victorian Church', 'The Popes and the European Revolution', as well as an authoritative biography of Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.
In this volume, 'A History of Christianity', Chadwick has taken his extensive knowledge of the subject and distilled it into a book that is accessible, yet magisterial. Including all elements of religion, including art, music, philosophy, politics, architecture, faith and spirituality, Chadwick explores the breadth of Christianity from the early days of wandering disciples to the days of televangelists, and all in between.
--Chapter 1: Jew and Greek
This give a summary overview of the history of Judaism up to the time of Christ, to provide some basic context scripturally, sociologically, historically, etc. It also surveys the then-current non-Jewish religions and philosophies dominant in the Roman world. It traces the first few hundred years of the Christian movement, exploring issues such as house-church organisation, ritual and liturgy, early persecutions, early heresies, and the perceived need for and development of creeds and a canon of scripture (the New Testament).
--Chapter 2: The Christian Empire
This chapter begins with the close of the era of persecution and the rise of Constantine. From this point Christianity was a major state religion, which had profound impact upon the character of the church in philosophy and organisation. Issues explored include the beginnings of monasticism, the recognition of and celebration of saints, calendrical controversies, and the spread of Christianity beyond Roman borders to northern Europe, eastern and southern lands.
--Chapter 3: East Rome
This chapter examines some of the issues which began to separate what is now called Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Western church. Issues examined include the role of the city and political dominance of Constantinople, eastern traditions and liturgical differences from the Western practice, mysticism and the effects of Islam on continuing Christian development as a politically-secondary religion.
--Chapter 4: Western Society in the Middle Ages
With the rise of Islam and the faltering of political power of the eastern Christian hierarchy, the bishop of Rome once again became a predominant authority in church matters politically. Issues covered include art and architecture in the west, the rise of the diocesan and parish systems, 'imitation of Christ' movements such as the Franciscans, the church's regulation of marriage, and the beginnings of Renaissance thinking.
--Chapter 5: The New World and Reform
After the crusades and the near universality of catholicism in the West for several centuries, various communities and leaders began to question the authority of the church in various ways. Issues covered include the reformative ideas of Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Anabaptists, Hutterites, Congregationalists, and many others. Also this is the era when the Bible first came to be translated in the common vernacular of the people. Music and philosophy also began to have greater impact on Christianity.
--Chapter 6: The Modern Age
From the French revolution forward, the world has seen unprecedented change in almost every area. Christianity has been no different. From seemingly minor issues as the rise of Christmas cards to the major events such as the fall of communism, this chapter explore global issues in Christianity, with an eye toward future events: gender barriers in the church; science and religion; moral issues; the church and the home.
This book is lavishly illustrated, well written, well indexed and organised, and a true treat to the reader. This presents a concise yet comprehensive overview of Christianity as a cohesive whole, and is worthy of a spot on the bookshelf (or, indeed, coffee table) of a scholar, a cleric, and the interested lay person.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2006
It was a great book with lots of information. The illustrations were supurb and it was well written. The text was easy to understand and it would make a great "Coffee Table Book" as well as a great reference and an asset to any Christian's library...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2006
I do like this book as it presents a WEALTH of information on a large topic. However, I find the book to be poorly organized and somewhat biased.

I would not recommend this book as a "reference book". The "Table of Contents" is not helpful. Page numbers are given for "chapter titles", but they are not given for the numerous "subheadings". Also, some "subheadings" listed in the "Table of Contents" are not used in the actual text of the book. So, it can be hard to locate the information you want.

In the text of the book, the writer seems to skip from topic to topic. The book doesn't have a good flow, although it is still interesting to read and I am learning from it.

As pointed out by another reviewer, I see that the writer does show his bias and feels free to share his opinions as if they were fact. I also note an anti-Catholic bias. I would not recommend this book to a conservative Catholic, a non-discerning reader, or anyone else who wants "just the facts".

If you want an introduction to Christianity that is easy to read and offers plenty of pictures, then this isn't a bad place to start. However, I prefer "A Story of Christianity: A Celebration of 2,000 Years of Faith" by Matthew Price and Michael Collins. This later book is published by DK so it offers more pictures, maps, etc., and it does a better job with chronology, dates, etc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2007
I saw this book in the bookstore and it was just what i was looking for.

I certainly needed touching up on my Christian knowledge.I knew the bare essentials.This book is wonderfully made..

One thing i realy like about this book is the excellent drawings and photographs.

Owen Chadwick an eminent histrian has written an original,sweeping history of the Christian faith from the perspective of a peoples religion.

It talks about how its origins as a Jewish sect and then how Europe was converted.It spread to Americas,much of Africa and parts of the East.

Amazing what one man can do.If jesus wasnt the most famous man in history the who was?I mean kings and Queens...Presidents die,or get beaten in an election and we wait for the next one to take their place.But the name Jesus lives on and on.Its incredible from one mans perspective the influence he had on the outside world....the spirit lives.

This is a very informative look at Christianity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2007
I saw this book in the bookstore and it was just what i was looking for.

I certainly needed touching up on my Christian knowledge.I knew the bare essentials.This book is wonderfully made..

One thing i realy like about this book is the excellent drawings and photographs.

Owen Chadwick an eminent histrian has written an original,sweeping history of the Christian faith from the perspective of a peoples religion.

It talks about how its origins as a Jewish sect and then how Europe was converted.It spread to Americas,much of Africa and parts of the East.

Amazing what one man can do.If jesus wasnt the most famous man in history the who was?I mean kings and Queens...Presidents die,or get beaten in an election and we wait for the next one to take their place.But the name Jesus lives on and on.Its incredible from one mans perspective the influence he had on the outside world....the spirit lives.

This is a very informative look at Christianity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2007
I saw this book in the bookstore and it was just what i was looking for.

I certainly needed touching up on my Christian knowledge.I knew the bare essentials.This book is wonderfully made..

One thing i realy like about this book is the excellent drawings and photographs.

Owen Chadwick an eminent histrian has written an original,sweeping history of the Christian faith from the perspective of a peoples religion.

It talks about how its origins as a Jewish sect and then how Europe was converted.It spread to Americas,much of Africa and parts of the East.

Amazing what one man can do.If jesus wasnt the most famous man in history the who was?I mean kings and Queens...Presidents die,or get beaten in an election and we wait for the next one to take their place.But the name Jesus lives on and on.Its incredible from one mans perspective the influence he had on the outside world....the spirit lives.

This is a very informative look at Christianity.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2005
I have no doubt about Professor Chadwick's credentials and his depth of knowledge in regards to the history of Christianity. However, I found this book to be highly non-systematic and a difficult and unintuitive read. My reading is based on the 1995 version of the book.

1) The history of Christianity is approached in a non-chronological fashion. Within the same paragraph different events are referred to from a wide range of dates.

2) There are countless instances where terms, names and events are introduced without any explanations or dates.

3) Quite a few of the references in the back of the book do not refer to the correct page.

4) I found Professor Chadwick not to have a detached scholarly approach. The text is peppered with his moral and political views. For example in P14: "In these towns where religions and cults were everywhere, yet moral standards were as low as those of later twentieth century, ..."

5) There is no reference to the pictures embedded within the pages.

I do realize that some of my criticism can be put down to a matter of difference in style. But overall I found the style hindering and the bias off-putting. On the good side, the book has many generously proportioned pictures.
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Owen Chadwick's "A History of Christianity" has apparently been reprinted in 2005 with different cover art. I am reviewing here the newer printing. This book presents what is known about the history of Christianity in a compact edition (approx 300 pp). It has been interesting to compare this view with Porter's view (Jesus Christ: the Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith) of the history and development of Christianity. Chadwick is the longer and deeper read of the two, as might be expected since it addresses Christianity more than Christ alone. The early evolution of Christianity and its extinct branches might be news to many Christians. The development of the Bible as a single entity might be shocking to many. The parallelisms among Biblical stories and those of other religions might give many readers some pause too. The idea that Christianity evolved over time, that the Bible evolved over time, that the authors of the New Testament might not be as clear-cut as many have believed, might be eye-opening. That the New Testament went through multiple editions and that there are historical versions with significant differences (different endings, for example) is fascinating. Many Christians have been taught to believe in the Bible as the inerrant word of God...but a walk through Christian history gives us some interesting perspective on that concept. Chadwick and Porter agree on much of this history. Both books are infused with good artwork and reasonably good references for support. Chadwick's synopsis of modern Christianity is necessarily very brief, covers the basics, but does seem a bit shy of my expectations. For example, I would have liked more comparative history of recent Christian groups such as Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. But the coverage of ancient history of Christianity makes up for these shortcomings in its modern history. And perhaps, in the greater history of Christianity, the modern events and travails are are mere bumps in the path. ross koning
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on April 17, 2013
I think this is a very informative book. It describes the history in great detail; however, I did find it hard to follow at certain times, but only because I do not have a lot of knowledge on this particular subject. I was able to read and follow on some of the more general information. Some of the highlights I enjoyed the most were the origin of Christianity, Christianity in the Roman Empire, and learning about some significant religious figures. I now have a basic knowledge of the origin of Christianity, and how it was able to spread through out the world. Chadwick also describes the role Christianity played in other countries and how it influenced other cultures. Chadwick concludes with the role of Christianity in some events leading up to mid twentieth century. I think Chadwick did a good job with the timeline; as a result it made the book easier to follow with events and history being in chronological order.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2005
The text arrived in perfect condition. The artwork in this presentation is exceptionally beautiful. Though the chapters are quite lengthy, they are appropriately segmented so that a reader can take breaks occassionally. It moves through the history quite quickly, and is therefore appropriate for one of the textbooks for a multiple textbook course. I'm also considering it for a short course for those interested in entering the lay ministry.
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