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The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000, 2nd Edition (The Making of Europe) 2nd Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631221388
ISBN-10: 0631221387
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Editorial Reviews


"Most scholars would have been content to let a book as fine as the first edition of The Rise of Western Christendom rest on its laurels. Not so Peter Brown. He has taken note of the recent outburst of scholarship in this field, and has produced a yet richer work, which, with its extended notes and bibliography, will prove to be a mine for scholars and students for years to come." Ian Wood, University of Leeds

"This outstanding revision of The Rise of Western Christendom will make this the book for the next generation and will stimulate countless revisions of long-accepted interpretations of the period 400-1000." Thomas F. X. Noble, University of Notre Dame

"[The first edition] was a historical masterpiece before. But the author's mind has moved on: The second edition contains further development, has filled out a great deal of detail, revised much in the light of more recent work, and, especially, has made it very much more useful for serious students by providing references and notes." Robert Markus, University of Nottingham

"A new book by Peter Brown always makes my heart beat faster...The addition of a dazzling range of new scholarly material makes the book a far more thorough treatment...My students will be reading it." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"In the second edition of his The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, AD 200-1000, Brown sets shimmering fragments of historical insight into a mosaic that is all the more splendid for its well-judged architecture, resulting in what may come to stand as the most satisfying contribution of an unusually distinguished career. With time, The Rise of Western Christendom may emerge as a milestone in the search for an account of the fall of Rome that genuinely breaks free of Gibbon's spell." Kate Cooper, Times Literary Supplement.

"With its dexterous and confident handling of an array of subjects and disciplines, and its exhaustive and detailed endnotes and bibliography, this book has encapsulated and synthesized a burgeoning field of scholarship at the point of perhaps its greatest creativity and imagination" The Atlantic Monthly

"The Rise of Western Christendom is a work of uncommon originality, prodigious learning, and literary grace." Robert Louis Wilken, National Review

"It is an ashtonishing story, told in a way that keeps general themes clearly in sight while lovingly attending to the particularities of people, pracises and beliefs" First Choice

Book Description

This book offers a vivid, compelling history of the first thousand years of Christianity. Ranging across the Christian world from China to Iceland, the narrative illustrates the diversity of Christian beliefs and practices. It also places the rise of Christianity in the context of other religious traditions, especially Islam. The author draws penetrating portraits of individuals and communities, from St Patrick and the Irish church to the Christian communities of Armenia and Mesopotamia. For the second edition, the book has been thoroughly rewritten and expanded. It includes two new chapters, on monasticism and Irish Christianity. The author has also added an extensive preface in which he reflects on the scholarly traditions that have influenced his work and explains his current thinking about the book's themes. The new edition contains new maps, a substantial bibliography, and a number of chronological tables to orient the reader.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 636 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (January 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631221387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631221388
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Professor Brown has substantially revised The Rise of Western Christendom, originally published in 1996 as part of the "Making of Europe" series edited by Jacques Le Goff. The result is a much stronger work, which will appeal to scholars of Late Antiquity more than the first edition while still captivating the general reader.
In the second edition Brown continues to treat the localization of Christianity in regions from the North Atlantic to Asia. He describes how Irishmen, Saxons, and others transferred to their homeland relics, styles of art and architecture, and ecclesiastical customs, thus believing that they "had brought to their own region a 'microcosm' which reflected, with satisfactory completeness, the 'macrocosm' of a worldwide Christianity. . . . They strove to cancel out the hiatus between 'center' and 'periphery' by making 'little Romes' available on their home ground" (15). Brown calls the local variations of a broader Christianity "micro-Christendoms." In his characterization of the British Isles, he writes "The religious leaders of every region claimed to possess at home a set of customs and doctrines which were ultimately derived from 'true' centers of Christian learning and practice in a wider world" (359). Through statements like this, Brown tries to erase the model of thinking about Christianity in terms of "center" and "periphery," a theory he borrows from anthropology and religious studies.
Yet, by entitling the work The Rise of Christianity in the West, the author reifies the notion of Christianity as a "western" phenomenon although a significant portion of the book treats the localization and perpetuation of Christianity in non-western regions such as Syria and Persia.
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Format: Hardcover
Peter Brown, professor of History at Princeton University, has written an amazing work. While so many Western Civ courses gloss over the "Dark Ages," the Early Middle Ages are brilliantly illuminated by this book, which offers a panoramic view of early Christianity. It covers over 900 years, from the beginnings of Christainity in the Roman Empire to the conversion of Scandinavia. Brown focuses on the unique forms of Christainity that arose throughout the world, from the Celtic and Northumbrian Christianity centered on the Irish monestary of Iona, to the Nestorian Christianity in the dying Persian Empire. He discusses suscinctly the rise of Islam, and its initial relations with the well established Christian communities of the East. Brown writes with tremendous clarity and grace. Most importantly, he has a keen knack for capturing the spiritual world views of historical figures; the piety and passion of men like Gregory of Tours, the Emperor Justinian and St. Columba come brilliantly to life thanks to Brown's lively yet erudite prose. Invaluable to scholars, laypeople will find it highly readable and thuroughly edifying.
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Format: Paperback
Peter Brown first came to my attention through his scholarship in the study of Augustine, one of my particular interests in the field of church history. His biography of Augustine is considered one of the standards, having been written first in the 1960s, and revised for the turn of the millennium in 2000. This speaks to the length of his career and involvement with the study of church history generally, of which this volume is a wonderful survey.

This book, 'The Rise of Western Christendom', looks at the first 1000 years (the first half of Christian history). Despite its title, it does not focus exclusively on the idea of Christianity as a Western phenomenon. One of the great strengths of this historical survey, as opposed to many of the previous generation, is that it does not stop at the borders of Rome, nor does it take a linear progression approach to the history. Brown preserves the diversity inherent in the original church, showing the growth in Latin and Greek areas, as well as other areas that would arise such as the Antioch/Aleppo area, where Coptic and Syriac were significant languages, and art, architecture, liturgical development and scholarship thrived for centuries as a major centre for Christianity. Brown also discusses 'mirco-Christendoms', pockets both within and outside of the original Roman Imperial borders where Christianity was planted and grew more or less independently of central authority and direction.

To understand the history of Western Europe (of which this volume is part of a series on the topic), one must have a wider perspective than just the goings-on that took place on the European continental mainland.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great work that traces the development and movement of Christianity into Europe. A religion that started out in the middle east had, by the end of the work, come to be dominant more in northern Europe than in the middle east itself.
Brown is a very good writer and is able to very eloquently trace out the forces and personalities of the period as well as the theleologic discussions that often divided Byzantine and Latin interpretations of the religion.
While not an introductory work, any reader can benefit from reading this book. At best it will stimulate further interest in the period and reading other authors. At worst, the reader may require some maps and a copy of, "Who's Who in the Middle Ages"
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