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A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginnings to 1500 Paperback – April 1, 1998


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A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginnings to 1500 + A History of Christianity in Asia, Vol. II: 1500-1900 + The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died
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Product Details

  • Series: History of Christianity in Asia (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; 2 Sub edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570751625
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570751622
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I learned a lot from this book.
JohnMatthias
Moffett structures this book in an easy to read format and includes some somewhat unique perspectives - all of which are well cited for reference.
Scott in Maine
Moffett tells of the thriving Christianity in Persian eras and in the great Mongolian Empire.
Matthew

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Jedidiah Palosaari VINE VOICE on July 20, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Last night I dreamt that I was a Great Khan, deciding who the next Nestorian Archbishops would be in the four sections of the empire...

There are few non-fiction books good enough to invade my dreams. This is one of them. I was pulled into the book and found it difficult to put down. Moffett writes in a very readable, engrossing style, but full of research and incredibly accurate. Unlike other treatments of this subject, Moffett is not trying to put forth a particular ideology or accept wholesale hagiography. While he respects the traditions of some about the formations of the early church, he analyzes these traditions critically to see what might be reality and what might be more myth.

It is rare to find a book on the Nestorian Church, this, perhaps the largest church in the world in the first 1000 years of Christianity, containing at least 20% of all Christians- all East of Antioch. Because many still consider their beliefs heretical (although most scholars now agree that the differences in understanding of the nature/s of Christ were more linguistic than theological), many theologians avoid this church, or don't even know of its existence. I grew up being taught there were Protestants and some Catholics. That was it. It wasn't till much later I learned there were Orthodox, and two varieties, as well as The Church of the East, the Nestorians. But when a writer does touch this subject, it is often very a very dry, terse history, that makes one want to rather fall asleep.

Moffett takes a different approach. He spent the time to do his research, as copious endnotes and sources indicate. He spent the time to contemplate the lives which he was writing about. And that's what makes this book different. He's writing about lives. It's exciting.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Iga on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
In the West, the history of Christianity almost never includes the east, and when it does, it stops at the Orthodox church. This book covers the history of the Assyrian church and churches further east. It is fairly readable, and tries to fill in the history of the surrounding regions as well. It changed my perspective of Christianity and gave me a better sense as to what in Christianity is essential.
Some problems: some of the footnotes are used for irrelevant tangents, and the scholarly character drops from time to time. Also, the lists of kings and patriarchs should be an appendix, not scattered through the footnotes.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have used this text as the base text for an undergraduate course in Christianity East of Jerusalem and found it excellent for the purpose. The material is divided into small enough pieces for the students to handle and there is enough quotation of original sources in translation to give them a feel for some of the variety of Christian life in that broad area and span of time. I recommend it also for individual readers.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert French on October 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Simply put, this book brought me on a remarkable journey into an area of Christian history about which I'd previously known very little. It opened my eyes to the faith and works of God's people in the post-apostolic Church of the East, and it also posed some interesting lessons that are relevant to Christians in today's world, despite the gulf in time--as well as geography, for many of us--that separates their age from ours.

The book itself was one of many additional readings recommended by Dr. David Calhoun in association with his Ancient and Medieval Church History course at Covenant Theological Seminary (available for free download at [...] To be honest, it took me nearly two years of on-and-off reading to get through the book, but I would attribute that to the fact that I am, in retrospect, less of a history buff than I'd thought, and to my tendency to get my fingers stuck in more books than I can really manage! The book itself is an interesting read, with many of the individual stories of saints and martyrs being real page turners, and with overall content and organization that are just superb. Dr. Moffett's heart for Asia was definitely poured into this book, and it shows.

The book begins in the apostolic and early post-apostolic era, and traces the growth of the church eastward, into Asia. The primary layout of the book is chronological, moving from this early period forward until its close at the dawn of the sixteenth century. Geographically, I'll oversimplify by saying that it focuses on three primary regions: Persia/Arabia, India, and China/Mongolia. Persia/Arabia and China/Mongolia get the most detailed treatment, which is understandable due to the vast area covered by the one, and the great amount of change and relevance to modernity encompassed by the other.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By JohnMatthias on February 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I know of no other seurvery of Asian Christianity that matches Moffat's, with regards to scholarship and readability for the general reader. I found this book absolutely unputdownable!
I don't know what exactly Moffat's religious persuasion is. This work is as sympathetic to Nestorian Christians as it is to their orthodox (i.e. Catholic and Orthodox) counterparts. I learned a lot from this book.
For instance, the Nestorian controversy was more a dispute over terminology than dogma; Christianity was not introduced into China by Portugese Catholics in the 16th century; Armenia's was not the first Christian king; Saint Thomas' mission to India justmay be more than legend; and much, much more.
The book is an absolute must-red on the subject. There's a couple of minor errors in it, though. The book states, for example, that the Nestorian Christians in China were not heterodox by Protestant standards except that they apparently prayer for their dead. I think this is a gross oversimplification. If these were anything like they're Western Asian Nestorian brethren, then they also would have had seven sacraments, believed in the Real Pressence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Euccharist's sacrifical aspects, praying to Mary and the saints, veneration of relics, belief in Apostolic succession, etc. The book also states that the Maronites of Lebanon were Oriental Orthodox (i.e. Monophysite), when, in fact, they are one of two Eastern Churches that never broke communion with the Roman Church.
Other than these, however, the book was really good. As one reviewer noted either, it would have been more useful for the book to have included the various dynasties and succession of Patriarchs in appendices, rather than scattered through the footnotes. Also, the maps could have been a bit more readable.
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