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The Birth of the Church: From Jesus to Constantine, AD 30-312 (Baker History of the Church) Hardcover – October 1, 2004
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`A telling account of early Christianity from Bible times down to the conversion of Constantine that is clear, readable and informed by recent scholarship.' -- David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling `An account of the early church that is both readable and informative, without being simplistic' -- Gerald Bray, Anglican Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
The Baker History of the Church is a multivolume series by world-renowned historians and theologians. Each comprehensive volume offers an evenhanded and readable assessment of the main strands of Christianity within its period. This first volume covers the period AD 30-312. During this time, the church experienced major challenges politically, culturally, and intellectually, yet grew and defined itself in remarkable ways. Here is the story of Christianity's earliest shapers-men and women whose influence is still felt today. "Well written with masterful control of developments, Davidson's volume is a treat: history at its finest."-Frederick W. Norris, professor of world Christianity, Emmanuel School of Religion "An impressive launch for a promising new series!"-Timothy George, executive editor, Christianity Today "This judiciously crafted, ecumenical survey of early Christianity offers just the right combination of social, liturgical, institutional, and intellectual history."-Douglas A. Sweeney, associate professor of church history, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School "Here we have an account of the early church that is both readable and informative, without being simplistic."-Gerald Bray, Anglican professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School Ivor J. Davidson is senior lecturer in systematic theology at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He has written extensively on the history and theology of the early church. John D. Woodbridge is research professor of church history and the history of Christian thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. David F. Wright is professor of patristic and Reformed Christianity at the University of Edinburgh. Tim Dowley has written and edited many books, including The Lion Handbook to the History of Christianity.
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Davidson expresses his concern for the "need for a fresh narrative history of the early church that is accessible in style, comprehensive in scope, and -not least--up-to-date in scholarship" (7). Writing a historical book with an objective as such, Davidson sets high standards for the development of a historical book on the birth of the church and fulfills his standards through his book, The Birth of the Church: From Jesus to Constantine, A.D. 30-312. Through his comprehensive and in depth study of the beginnings of the church, Davidson provides readers "who have some knowledge of early Christianity as well as those who have none" (7), a clear and concise perspective of the beginnings of the church. He presents not only a general overview of historical facts and comprehensive timeline of dates and contributors to the historical church, but Davidson concentrates on the issues faced in the history of the church such as "theology, politics, and ideas, but also...social artistic, and cultural evolution of Christianity" (7-8). Davidson goes beyond his purpose to "furnish a new generation of readers with a work that might fulfill something of the function that earlier--and is some cases now classic--introductory texts on the period had provided for the predecessors" (8). Through Davidson's book, he engages his readers to explore the world during the birth of the church and studies the detailed historical background of the development of the church and the persons involved.
The chronologically ordered chapters guide readers through the historical birth of the church exploring historical, social, and personal backgrounds of the development of the church. He not only provides a strict factual outline, but provides his readers his own opinion on subject manners. For example, in the chapter "Paul: Missionary, Teacher, Martyr", Davidson provides his opinion that "even within Paul's own circle, the many men and women who served as his vital co-workers are too easily overlooked, and in the contexts of the early faith as a whole, an incalculable number of other pioneers also deserve recognition" (97). Davidson raises historical inquiries that are not necessarily presented in a typical historical book. This detailed examination of all aspects of the history provides readers an insight to Davidson's theological understanding of the history of the church.
The language of the book is clear and concise. For readers unfamiliar with the subject matter of the birth of the church, Davidson provides a format that is easy to follow, with detailed explanations of historical background of each era. For myself, a student of the study of the history of Christianity, Davidson's book has provided me a comprehensive and chronological study of the development of the church including details of contributors to the birth of the church.
Ivor J. Davidson's book, provides readers of all backgrounds, whether in seminary or wanting to learn more about the history of Christianity, a clear understanding and inquisitive outlook on the beginnings of the Christian church.
Houston Graduate School of Theology, Houston, Texas
The Birth of the Church brilliantly discusses and provides a comprehensive explanation of the history of the church from Jesus to Constantine, A.D. 30-312, Volume One. The book includes maps and illustrations of the Roman Empire during the first to the third centuries. Davidson states that while any number of guides exists for those who would learn about the early history of Christianity, this book was written in the conviction that there is nevertheless a need for a fresh narrative story of the early church that is accessible in style, comprehensive in scope, and not least up-to-date in scholarship (7). The author's disclaimer is that "no author can be an expert in all of the component parts of such a vast and multidisciplinary field", nevertheless, he has endeavored to keep in mind all of the contingencies of "word limits, time, energy and knowledge, which accompany the comprehensiveness of exploring such a vast subject.
Davidson concentrates on issues of theology, politics, and ideas, and he also looks at the social, artistic, and cultural evolution of Christianity (7).
The book begins with "In the Beginning" and goes through the timelines of early Christianity. The author examines the world of Jesus's first followers, Paul's missionary journeys, and Paul's role as a teacher and a martyr. It also focuses on the worship practices and faith and politics of the first through the third centuries. Davidson in writing this book wanted to produce an account that is fair and balanced to diverse interpretations of often-complex evidence (8). The book is in chronological order and is clear and detailed. It also includes a chart of the time line of early Christianity from ca. 30 to 324, which is very helpful for the seminarian who needs a reminder at times of the dates and events of the early centuries in their chronological order.
For the readers who are tempted to go the Web for their study or just to glean information concerning this study, the author has these words: "The wheat and the chaff are best sifted by those who have done some other reading first".
Davidson states that he was advised that the aim of his book "was to furnish a new generation of readers with a work that might fulfill something of the function that earlier and in some cases now classic-introduction texts on the period had provided for their predecessors" and admits that is no small order, but hopes that his book will "in some small part be as useful as some of those that have gone before it" (8).
The reader of this book by Davidson will have a clearer understanding of the birth of the church during the first through the third centuries including subjects on Easter and the dating of, fasting, prayer and praise, the persecutions of the Christians, the roles of women in the Church, and the differences between Christian thought in the Church in the West as compared to the Church in the East. This writer enjoyed reading this book of history and would highly recommend this book to the students who are excited about studying history and especially to the students who are not so excited about the study of history. This book will hold your interest and you will not want to put it down. It is fast-paced and easy to ready and understand.
Davidson's wide-ranging historical study features an analytical evaluation of Church History. I would highly recommend The Birth of The Church, From Jesus to Constantine A.D. 30-312, Volume One, because it provides a valuable exploration of this period. In this reader's limited opinion, to some extent, Davidson accomplished his aim in providing "a new generation of readers with a work that might fulfill something of the function that earlier and in some cases now classic-introduction texts on the period had provided for their predecessors".
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In Ivor J. Davidson's text The Birth of the Church, he provides an engaging look into the embryonic stages of the development of what...Read more
Reviewed by Catheryn Longino
Reading the accounts on the back cover of the book, it is clear that Ivor J.Read more