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Readings in World Christian History
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2015
Readings in World Christian History: Volume I is not meant to be read by itself but is meant to serve as a companion to History of the World Christian Movement: Volume I by Irvin and Sunquist.

Without HWCM to provide context and locate the different authors and texts in history, the book becomes difficult to navigate and reads like a haphazard collection of unrelated compositions.

In this anthology, like HWCM, the editors make it clear that most textbooks tend to adopt a Eurocentric approach to the Christian movement and therefore mold history through a Western lens. This method ignores or diminishes the forces at play outside of Europe. Aware of the distortions inherent in this method, the editors have a “new appreciation of cultural diversity and geographical spread of ancient and medieval Christianity” and their presentation of the faith’s development in this volume is broad and inclusive. Resultantly, this book becomes a series of carefully selected narratives from different peoples, places, traditions and ideologies, as opposed to a unified stream with one point of view.

The book follows a chronological timeline and the sections are further divided into blocs that pertain to a controversy or a theological current. Each selection also has a brief introduction from the editors that gives the reader some context of the writing and a sense of the ideological orientation of the writer.

Taken by itself, one of the most significant values of this book is its introduction to theologians-in-training to the wonderful breadth of Christian writers, both big and small, through the 1400s. So while more well-known writers such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Origen, and Tertullian are included, the text also has, for example, the Didache, The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity, writings from Basil of Caesarea, the Apology of Patriarch Timothy to Caliph Mahdi, The Heliand, Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo, The Lives of Mar-Yahbh-Allaha and Rabban Sawma, and Unam Sanctum.

I used this book as required by a graduate level seminary course and found it to be invaluable in shedding light onto the historical developments, currents, and controversies in Christendom from the death of Christ to the 15th century. Readings in World Christian History will be most valuable to students of Christian and church history, theologians, and seminarians. Also, anyone with a keen interest into why and how Christian dogma and ideology has been molded, shaped, and transformed since the death of Christ will find this book precious as well.
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I have waded through several anthologies of classic Christian writing, and most of them are very good. (Hint: In this case, the reputation of the editor(s) is a good clue to whether the collection is worth its salt. There is a large collection by Alistair McGrath which uses a different approach, but is also very good.)

This volume, unlike McGrath's collection, is more about source documents on the life and times of Christians up to the dawn of the Renaissance. Another difference is that the selections in this book tend to be a bit longer, and from fewer sources. This is all to the good for a class on the history of Christianity.

I would NOT recommend this book for casual reading, or even as a source book for writing papers. In the former case, it is because the book does not provide the string which connects all the readings. This connection would typically be done by an instructor's lectures. In the latter case, the selections do not include notes on the text which would be present in abundance if one found the volumes in which the entire works were edited and studied.

But, if you happen to get this book in a class, and you have an interest in Christian history, I would not be too quick to sell it off, as it may provide tastes of things you may study in other classes, just enough to know if you wish to look at works by Ambrose of Milan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
excellent read of the actual texts throughout church history. the use of original documents ensure you dont read edited material that have be redacted.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2006
I was assigned Readings in World Christian History as textbook for a class at the Perkins School of Theology. The book is a compilation of historical documents, preceded by short introductions that place the documents in context and tell why they are important.

If you are reading this, you are probably interested in church history. If you really want to get into the subject, you will need this book or another one like it.
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on June 23, 2014
This is an outstanding text that covers a lot of territory in church history. I found all of the readings to be very helpful in my understanding the viewpoints of the cloud of witnesses that wrote about and for the church.
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on April 23, 2015
This is a wonderful compilation of "first hand" historical accounts. One literally walks through history with those who were there.
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on October 16, 2013
I found it to be very helpful and informative. I has provided a wealth of knowledge to me during this term.
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on November 1, 2014
This is not such an easy ready but if you are into Christian History you will want this in your arsenal.
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on October 18, 2014
Love the original sources and the brief introduction to the text. Very well laid out. . . . . .
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book is a marvellous companion for Dr. Irvin's "World Christian Movement" treatise.
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