- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 46 hours and 35 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC
- Audible.com Release Date: March 30, 2010
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003EN3K9S
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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So, long story short, I think this is overall a great work of Church history that every serious student should probably read. Even if you disagree with MacCulloch, which I often find myself doing, he provokes thought and that is always a good thing. If you decide to read Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years just do yourself a favor and read a shorter, simpler introduction to Christianity first and, then, as you are reading the work always keep in mind that some of his assertions may be more personal opinion than scholarly consensus. With these two caveats in mind, I think any reader will enjoy the book and find it a gold mine of information.
However, there remain certain topics in which his brevity undercuts his purpose. Take, for instance, the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles. Like many scholars, MacCulloch takes it as a given that Paul did not write all of the epistles attributed to him, but he fails to address the evidence for such an assumption. Given the importance of such a claim for the faith of approx. two billion Christians in the world today, one would expect more development.
Likewise, he skims over the Montanist and Nestorian controversies (devoting far more attention to the latter, which is telling) and offers a very limited review of Greek, early Roman, and Jewish history. It is also worth noting that this work is written by a scholar of Reformation history and theology, not of the early Church. This unfortunately shows through at times.
For all of his brevity, MacCulloch does provide the resources to delve deeper into the topic and I highly recommend this book as a starting point for those interested in Church history.
The author is surely brilliant, but there is little sustained chronological or topical structure beyond the chapter headings. Others may love the book for the author's witty observations of the accidents of history that produced the Western church. I have turned elsewhere for a useful introductory historical and theological survey of the growth of Christianity.
But let me be clear: many will enjoy the book's spirituality, the author's writing style, and his informative observations along the way. And the book succeeds in sparking discussion during EfM!