Church History in Plain Language

  • by Bruce L. Shelley
  • Narrated by Adam Verner
  • 21 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

With more than 315,000 print copies sold, this is the story of the church for today's listeners. Dr. Bruce Shelley makes church history come alive in this classic audiobook that has become not only the first choice of many laypeople and church leaders but the standard text in many college classrooms.
What separates Dr. Shelley's work from others is its clarity of language and organization. It treats history as the story of people, and the result is that history reads like a story, almost as dramatic and moving as a novel. Yet there is no fiction here. Dr. Shelley was a respected scholar whose work was painstakingly researched and carefully crafted for historical accuracy.
The fourth edition of Shelley's classic one-volume history of the church brings the story of Christianity into the 21st century. This latest edition, now an audiobook and revised by R.L. Hatchett, contains information concerning Gnosticism and its ongoing relevance, the theology of the early church and Reformation, and most extensively, the rapid global extension and transformation of Christianity since 1900.
Unless otherwise specified, all Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. © 1946, 1952, 1971, 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

In depth and fascinating

Full disclosure - I am an active Christian.

I have always wondered how we got to "now" with fractured denominations, the decline of Christianity in the West, the relationship of the Catholic Church to Christianity in general, and more. This book covered all of these topics and more. It was a great overview of Christianity from Christ to the present, covering details from the vantage point of how Christ has worked in the world over the past 2000 years. Non-Christians will still find the information interesting and historical, but the book is definitely written from the standpoint of a believer. Catholics will find it equally interesting, although they may find aspects of their beliefs challenged at times (for instance, the infallibility of the Pope), although never in a rude or crass manner.

Overall, this was exactly what I was looking for - an historical account of the church and how we got to today. It was a long audio book, but I found it worth the time.
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- J. Pegg

Flippant, bias, disappointing.

What would have made Church History in Plain Language better?

The fundamental reason I cannot support this book is that the author often demonstrates a flippant and biased attitude toward certain characters and events in history. For instance, on the section dealing with the Nestorian Controversy, the historian makes Nestorius out to be a sympathetic character regrettably slighted by a bullying church. There are many other instances like this, where the historian does not take into account the psychological attitudes of each culture; but instead appears to be writing from a modernist, single-culturaist, and anti-Catholic-Church point of view, giving little consideration to the psychosocial conditions of disparate cultures, practices and norms. This is the seed of his bias remarks. This history might be in plain language, but for me, the historian is too close-minded and thoughtless.


What could Bruce L. Shelley have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I would rather read / listen to a history wherein the historian works harder at being objective. I would also rather enjoy a history wherein the historian takes into account the psychosocial and psychological attitudes of each culture. I would prefer a history wherein the historian demonstrates open-mindedness through objective comments.


How did the narrator detract from the book?

This is perhaps the most irksome part of the listening experience. The narrator continually mispronounces names and events. But he does have mostly enjoyable diction.


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration and disappointment.


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- Becket

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-03-2013
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio