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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read overview of (historical development of) different types of christian religions
This is a review of "Christianity - a very short introduction" by Linda Woodhead. I found this book fitting very well in the Oxford University Press vsi series: it is brief and after reading it my understanding of the topic has increased a lot.

Throughout the book the author uses a scheme to categorize the different types of religions. One axis describes where...
Published on June 22, 2007 by GPK

versus
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For Certain Research It's Highly Irrelevant
Coming from an agnostic background and having to write a comparitive essay about Christianity and Buddhism, I jumped at the chance for a detailed unbias collection that could provide enough general info for a decent knowledge of my subjects. I was quite happy with the Buddhist Introduction [Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introduction)] and expected a...
Published on August 4, 2011 by Cassie


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read overview of (historical development of) different types of christian religions, June 22, 2007
By 
GPK (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Paperback)
This is a review of "Christianity - a very short introduction" by Linda Woodhead. I found this book fitting very well in the Oxford University Press vsi series: it is brief and after reading it my understanding of the topic has increased a lot.

Throughout the book the author uses a scheme to categorize the different types of religions. One axis describes where ultimate authority is located (god, ratio enlightened by god, or subjective experience), and the other axis to which power is attributed (church, scripture, or mystical). Then she continues describing the historical development and coming into existence of these different versions of Christianity. I found this way a good way to familiarize myself with the various types of belief. Also discussed are the reasons why certain type are more popular than others, and how this has changed over time and in different regions.

Finally, the writing style of the book is what I would call 'plain and normal English, appealing to common sense' making the book very accessible. There are also books that are clearly written in a style appealing only to readers who are already familiar with the topic and share the authors belief (i.e. jargon), but this book does not fall into that category. And I think this is good and fitting the purpose of the vsi series.

Recommended!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For Certain Research It's Highly Irrelevant, August 4, 2011
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Coming from an agnostic background and having to write a comparitive essay about Christianity and Buddhism, I jumped at the chance for a detailed unbias collection that could provide enough general info for a decent knowledge of my subjects. I was quite happy with the Buddhist Introduction [Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introduction)] and expected a general range of common information, as in the other one. This book, however, simply explains the historical background of Christianity and interprations of Jesus Christ, and does not give any other info other than that. While history is important to how it came to be and all, it DOESN'T explain major figures of Christianity, prominent texts, give common information on subcategories in Christianity or the reason for which they separated, what is believed in heaven or hell, or even a list of their morals (i.e. the 10 commandments). Such info I was looking for. It does give you a very detailed background of the religion and remains unbias in it's views, and I am in no way condemning the book because it was inadequately written but because it was inadequately broad. For a general 'introduction to Christianity' book, I was highly dissapointed, but the book is a wonderful reference to how Christianity came to be and it's various interprations in the past. It just wasn't for me.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Covers Alot of Ground, August 1, 2006
By 
Rick Rowland (Glen Allen, Virginia, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Paperback)
I can't comment on the theological or academic veracity of this book, nor can I be objective in my review of it (I am a Church/Mystical Christian under Ms. Woodhead's typology). However, I can say that the author covers alot of ground in less than 200 pages, including basic Christian theology and history, its relation to prevailing political, social and economic factors, and its current situation and future prospects. On several subjects, I feel that the author advocates her personal agenda. However, this doesn't affect the overall quality of the book. I recommend it to those who want a short, general introduction to this topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A secular view on the sociology of Christianity, August 26, 2011
By 
W. Cheung "FRACP" (Adelaide, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Paperback)
Although highly informative, the title of the book is almost a misnomer. You wouldn't find the Beatitudes or parables described. "The Kingdom of God" is hardly mentioned. Instead, it is mostly on the various forms of Christianity - and an attempt to put them into predominantly historical and political perspectives. The central thesis is that the so-called "Church Christianity" had a very close relationship with the political rulers in the West; and yet such a relationship has always been ambiguous because some of the crucial concepts in Christianity, namely humility and pacifism, are not necessarily always conducive to the legitimization of the establishment.

One of the most "anti-establishment" element in the Trinity is the "Holy Spirit" - which apparently gives believers the rights to relish upon their own very subjective religious experiences, which may not coincide with those of the traditional teachings. The modern emphasis of individualism favors such kind of a worship and hence the burgeoning of the so-called Charismatic Christianity. Indeed, the "sexlessness" of the Spirit (as opposed to the Father and the Son) gives feminism a way to influence Christianity (Interesting, the author does not quote Luke 8:3 - in fact, she barely quoted the Bible at all).

If you a believer, you may find this book biased. Admittedly the book seems to adopt an unspoken underlying assumption that Christianity is "just" a religion. Saying that, it does provide a "different perspective" and ultimately can enrich one's understanding of one's faith.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Resource, December 11, 2010
By 
Sally Nabulsi (CAMBRIDGE, MA, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Paperback)
Great introductory book. Very Simple. It does not cover all there is to know about Christianity. But it is interesting to read the author's point of view. This book is very short, and ideally should be complemented with another book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, February 19, 2014
By 
Karianne (Wisconsin, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Paperback)
I was required to purchase this book for a religious studies class and it was extremely helpful! It explains religion in easy terms and breaks everything down so it's easy to understand.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Important guide towards understanding our culture, January 18, 2013
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There is no better introduction to Christianity imaginable. The author demonstrates an authoritative view on the phenomenon of Christianity as a whole, including both spiritual as societal and political developments. This book is a crucial tool to understand the basic tensions behind contemporary western culture. It liberates the reader from the narrow views on the christian religion that dominate most of the contemporary debates about ethics and spirituality. Also the view on Christianity as a global phenomenon is of special value in our post-colonial world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, November 28, 2012
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Paperback)
I consider this book very useful in understanding the basics of Christianity that are applicable to all denominations in existence today. The author does show more bias in this book than is typical of the Very Short Introduction series, focusing on the current trends such as feminism more than the traditional religion, but this book is highly informative for such a quick read. I particularly enjoyed the discussions of the types of Christianity that didn't make it into official Catholic doctrine, such as the Gnostics and Arians and Mystics. I would say that the author gives equal weight to these subjects as catholicism and orthodoxy, which were historically far more impactful. I appreciate this approach to the subject, although it leaves the reader wondering what the average Christian believed in, say, the 5th century compared to the 15th century. Well worth the read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction, July 3, 2011
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This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Paperback)
For those who want a very short introduction to Christianity that is historical and objective rather than proselytizing, i.e. written by a biased Christian, than this short book could fit the bill.
Since it is written by a woman there is even a chapter written about women in Christianity that was quite insightful and a unique contribution to the understanding of the Christian phenomenon.
A word to readers in the United States. All the Very Short Introduction Series of books are written by those educated in the United Kingdom so the emphasis of study is often based on the experiences of the United Kingdom and Europe. Very little mention is made of the phenomena in the United States. If there is mention, then it is made in passing, for instance, the United States is lumped in with North America in references. There is no mention of the Scopes Trial which ocurred in Tennessee, or Mormonism and Jehovah's witnesses which are particularly American.
However, Christianity is sufficiently global now that this book gives a good feel for it none the less.
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8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An inaccurate picture of Christianity, September 14, 2010
This review is from: Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Paperback)
By identifying Woodhead's choice use of language and criticism, any discerning reader will find the authors motive evident: to undermine the credibility of the Bible, early church and Christian dogma and replace it with her own interpretation. In short, Woodhead tries to crawl inside Christianity, skew its documentation of history and theology in an "objective" manner, and advocate some form of utopian universalism as the Christian message (a very noble message, and one which Christianity would line up with to a degree, but one which is far from the essence of orthodox Christianity). I would recommend a less biased book to anyone looking for an introduction to Christianity.
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Christianity: A Very Short Introduction
Christianity: A Very Short Introduction by Linda Woodhead (Paperback - September 1, 2005)
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