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285 of 321 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Long Stretch, March 22, 2010
This review is from: Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (Hardcover)
Although he left out the history going back a few thousand more years in the development of god in ancient Sumerian, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian cultures, which led to the god Jehovah's appearance to the Jews of the Old Testament this was an admirably well narrated story about the development of Christianity in which the author traced to roots in Greece and Rome 1000 years before the Common Era. Maculloch wrote in an impartial tone even as he pointed out excesses, absurdities, mythical incidents and contradictions. "In the Gospels, events in historic time astonishingly fuse with events beyond time". His account of the synoptic gospels pointed to contradictions but not in as great a detail as say, GA Well's "Did Jesus Exist?" But his account spanned a greater range than Wells'. He wrote in detail about the development of the various early churches in the Roman Empire, and explained why the church flourished - in its diverse forms. His chapter on the split in the church from the western and eastern orthodoxy to protestantism was an interesting and informative. Patience is required not because the writing style was turgid (on the contrary, it was extremely clear) but because it is a long account. His final chapters dealt with the rise of Christianity as a world religion and ecumenical efforts to seal the inevitable rifts created by diverse cultures and the hermeneutical method of understanding a vague Holy Book. It is a book for the believer and non-believer alike. One might not like or agree with his comments but the historical tracings are indispensable to anyone who wants to know the history of the religion as opposed to what the religion is about.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 7, 2010 6:14:58 PM PDT
Chris Troise says:
He "unfortunately left out the greater history going back a few thousand years before"? 3,000 years of Christianity is not enough for you? Maybe if he applied himself next time he'd do a complete history of the universe from the Big Bang until the day the book arrives on your doorstep?

Posted on Apr 20, 2010 11:01:59 AM PDT
'German Boy' says:
Why the lament for a book which the author chose NOT to write???

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2010 8:58:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 8, 2010 8:59:45 PM PDT
Taylor Rand says:
"A complete history of the universe"?

"Lament?"

It was a 5 star review with mostly positive observations! The development of the idea of God and monotheism had roots in earlier religions and that could have been given a bit more attention without greatly changing the scope and size of the book. It's quite common, actually, for an author writing about a certain time and idea, to summarize events and history just prior to or after his book's subject. A book on, for example, the American Civil War or The Great Depression or The Reformation would likely include introductory and concluding chapters, sometimes in great detail, containing relevant information.

Posted on Jun 11, 2010 2:54:44 PM PDT
Mark Colan says:
I agree with the reviewer (and Taylor Rand) that covering earlier history would be useful, perhaps in a chapter or two. If you are going to start with an account of religion 1000 years before the birth of Jesus the Christ, you may as well go the distance and discuss the rise of God in earlier cultures, which are an obvious influence for Judaism, which in turn is the foundation for Christianity.

This is a great review, and it makes me want to read the book. I have been enjoying Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ (Myths), which is really not in the same category, as it is fiction, but it does give another view of the rise of Christianity.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2010 1:15:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 23, 2010 1:15:24 PM PDT
E.L.B. says:
Chris Troise, lol. Good stuff man.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 9:14:19 AM PST
Your review has brought me to purchase this book as I have been trying to better understand the "religions of the world" and their origins.

However, in your review, you say "he left out the history going back a few thousand more years in the development of god in ancient Sumerian, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian cultures, which led to the god Jehovah's appearance to the Jews of the Old Testament". Could you recommend any books that cover this development and bridges the ancient religions with the inception of Judaism? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2013 9:05:32 AM PDT
Alana says:
Thanks for asking the question. I find the book fascinating AND I am also interested in becoming more knowledgeable with regard to the precursors of Judaism and Christianity. Actually, that's why I'm online, searching for just such a resource. "The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell provides some insights, feeding my curiosity. I hope someone will answer Matthew's 'bridge the gap' question by recommending a comprehensively written volume with a pre-Christian historical perspective.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2014 3:28:53 AM PDT
K. Beazley says:
"...the rise of God in earlier cultures, which are an obvious influence for Judaism..."??

That's a rather perverse idea. And as it is a poor example of "elephant hurling" (best described as a debate tactic in which a debater will refer to a large body of evidence which supposedly supports the debater's arguments, but without demonstrating that all the evidence does indeed support the argument. Or, when the critic throws summary arguments about complex issues to give the impression of weighty evidence, but with an unstated presumption that a large complex of underlying ideas is true, and failing to consider opposing data, usually because they have uncritically accepted the arguments from their own side".
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