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A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 (Revised) [Paperback]

Kenneth S. Latourette
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 15, 1975 0060649526 978-0060649524 Revised
The most useful survey of Christian history for the student or general reader, fully updated by a team of respected scholars.

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A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 (Revised) + Women in the Early Church (Fathers Of The Church) + Documents of the Christian Church
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Editorial Reviews


The most useful conspectus of Christian history for the average reader. -- Yale Divinity News

About the Author

Sterling professor of missions and riental history and fellow of Berleley College in Yale University

Product Details

  • Series: Beginnings to 1500 (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Revised edition (October 15, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060649526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060649524
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 5.3 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Treatment of Christian History February 2, 2000
This work is generally known as a modern classic of Church History. If you are looking for a basic, comprehensive survey of Christian Church history, this is it. If you want something easier and faster than LaTourette, I would recommend Bruce Shelley's "Church History in Plain Language". However, LaTourette is superior. If you want something more comprehensive than LaTourette, I would recommend the 5 volume set by Jarslov Pelikan.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb -- but readable -- scholarship February 9, 2000
Latourette does a masterful job of presenting a comprehensive history of the Christian religion in a readable form. This is an overview of the subject from the time of Christ to just before the Reformation (Vol. 2 picks up after 1500). Latourette doesn't just focus on the Western world or on institutional religion, but on Christianity in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, some of the personalities behind the history, and on popular movements within Christianity (some of which - such as monasticism - became institutions in their own right). This is an excellent scholarly overview on an enormous topic that makes it interesting for the average reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fairly detailed overview April 8, 2013
Books on church history fall into one (or more) of several categories. There are those that deal with some specific aspect of church history, such as the development of doctrine, the history of Christian missions, or the history of the papacy. There are those that are intended as an extremely basic overview. There are those multi-volume works that attempt to cover just about everything in detail. And then there are those that attempt to give some detail while at the same time not being cumbersome. I would categorize Kenneth Scott LaTourette's "A History of Christianity, Volume 1" among the last-mentioned. Its nearly 700 pages (exclusive of end material) covers the period from the time of Christ until 1500 in enough detail that the reader is not left totally clueless as to what actually happened. At the same time the work does not get so bogged down in details that it becomes tedious. Given its purpose of providing a fairly detailed overview of the first millennium and a half of the history of the church, it does a pretty good job. It hits all the important developments. And it maintains a pretty good balance in what it covers.

Like many church histories written by Western historians, its emphasis is on the Roman West rather than on the Eastern Orthodox Church. While it does cover the developments within the Eastern church, it does not do so with the depth that it does the West. Moreover, unlike some church histories, its emphasis is on events and movements rather than on the development of doctrine. For instance, one is not going to find an extended discussion of the theological issues that led to, say, the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon.

This is not the work for someone who wants a fairly brief overview, since, although an overview, it is fairly detailed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Kenneth Scott Latourette (1884-1968) was an American historian of Christianity, who had been a missionary to China in the early 20th century; he is also the author of Christianity in a Revolutionary Age. Vol. I : The 19th Century in Europe; Background and the Roman Catholic Phase. The previous volume was A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 (Revised).

About Martin Luther, he observes, "Although at the outset he had no thought of breaking with the Pope or the Church of Rome, he was not one to draw back, and prudence and guarded speech were alien to his nature." (Pg. 708) He says, "The reign of Mary witnessed a number of beheadings and burnings, so much so, indeed, that her critics remembered her as 'Bloody Mary.' ... Yet the brief reign was punctuated with rebellions and the spirit of the times regarded as normal the execution of the leaders." (Pg. 809)

He notes about the slave trade: "exploration commenced partly for the purpose of propagating the Christian faith ... had as one of their effects a traffic brutalizing both to those who constituted its wares and to those who conducted it." (Pg. 927) He suggests that in an 1891 encyclical, Leo XIII "put himself on the side of labour in the mounting industrialism. Condemning socialism as a false remedy... he also insisted that ... the employer must not tax his employees beyond their strength." (Pg. 1103)

In his summation, he concludes, "Christianity has ... impelled men to fight suffering, whether ... from disease, war, or natural disasters. It has built thousands of hospitals ...
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65 of 97 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Badly Dated November 7, 2003
Readers should be aware that this study was first published in 1953, and despite light revision reflects the state of scholarship half a century ago. We've learned a LOT about the history of Christianity since then, and many of the sweeping assumptions of this book (e.g., in the ghastly section entitled "The Darkest Hours: The Great Recession, A.D. 500-950") have been thoroughly discredited. The bibliographies for each section don't include works published in the past half century (despite the so-called revision). Even the very language is dated, with its grandiose, sweeping style, capitalization of popes, etc. This book perpetuates a great many old myths, making the job of historians of religion just that much harder. There are now much better books on the market.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought and knowledge stimulator
This book is very thought provoking. It opens up may points that are not generally known or realized. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Reg Brian-Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars What you'd expect from a history book
My professor at Fuller Theological Seminary assigned it so you know it's got a lot of good information in it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Keen to Analyze
5.0 out of 5 stars great history book
The book is excellent. It's easy to read and not difficult to understand. It was recommended by my pastor. I'm glad I got it.
Published 15 months ago by Teddy Bear
5.0 out of 5 stars Dealing with the black hole of early Christian history.
Anyone attempting to research the early history of Christianity soon wanders into a historical black hole, and it seems that two powerful institutions determined to create it. Read more
Published on August 29, 2011 by Donn O'Connor
3.0 out of 5 stars Shallow and spotty overview with no depth
Amazingly, even though this two-volume history has over 1500 pages, it still is way too shallow. Latourette is an expert historian who wrote a different, 7 volume church history,... Read more
Published on July 20, 2010 by Wu Wei
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything was great
Got here in a timely fashion. Book was wrapped in cling wrap, but it worked. Everything worked out great. Thank you.
Published on May 17, 2009 by JJ
2.0 out of 5 stars Jhaeman's Review
I picked up a copy of Kenneth Scott Latourette's A History of Christianity, Volume I: Beginnings to 1500 at a used bookstore a year or two ago, and its place has finally come up in... Read more
Published on February 17, 2009 by Jeremy
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