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Publisher's Summary

How did a persecuted sect in 1st-century Palestine rise to command such a massive influence on human culture, imagination, and spirit? How did Christianity weather the first critical stages of its historical development and attain its fundamental and enduring cultural role?
Speaking incisively to all of this and more, these 36 enthralling lectures tell the phenomenal story of Christianity's first 1,500 years, in all its remarkable diversity and complex dimension. In the company of Professor Johnson of Emory University, you'll follow the dramatic trajectory of Christianity from its beginnings as a "cult of Jesus" to its rise as a fervent religious movement; from its emergence as an unstoppable force within the Roman Empire to its critical role as an imperial religion; from its remarkable growth, amid divisive disputes and rivalries, to the ultimate schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism; and from its spread throughout the Western world to its flowering as a culture that shaped Europe for 800 years.
Throughout this series, you'll look deeply into the nature and role of faith, the ethos of our civilization, and the core conceptions of identity and ethics that underlie the Western worldview. This is history in the most vivid and meaningful sense of the word: an inquiry into the past that opens a compelling awareness of our present-of our living origins, our ultimate horizons, our deeper selves.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

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By Mike on 12-20-13

An Overview of the First Half of Christian History

Any additional comments?

This lecture series (the great courses are a lecture series rather than a strict audiobook) was a good overview of the first half of Christian history going from the world of Christ to the reformers and reform movements just before the time of the Protestant Reformation. The lecturer as a Christian himself, a biblical scholar, and a capable historian has a fairer perspective on the events than some more purely academic religious scholars might. Anyone who is interested in the subject will benefit from the content in this book. As someone who has read widely on Christian history, I did have a few small disappointments. The content did not seem as thorough or capturing as some of the books I had read previously on the subject. I also found the lecturers voice and style to be a little boring at times. I should also note that those interested in learning about some of the "outside" groups in Christianity (Coptic Church, Ethiopian church, oriental church, etc.) will find these groups mentioned, but not expounded on in great detail. In summary this is an interesting and fair introduction, but I do think you can find better books for those new to this subject or interested in learning more. If this had been my first book on Christian history, I don't think I would have been as eager for a second... but I am sure those who are interested will enjoy the read and scholarship it represents.

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11 of 12 people found this review helpful


By Douglas from Blaine on 01-03-15

Evidence-Based History of the Church

Fascinating history of the Church. With attention to early, Jewish narratives, eastern Orthodoxy, and Catholic Christendom.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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By Graham & Rachel Hall on 04-17-17

At least listen to it if you are going to review

Any additional comments?

To be clear, the narrator speaks of Constantinian 'sponsorship' and it is explicitly stated that Christianity was not made the official religion of the empire until Theodosius I. The person who said otherwise clearly was not listening intently enough.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By LilKajsa on 09-07-17

An excellent overview

A great way of looking at the broad sweep of the development of the European church. So many themes that seem modern such as different forms of spiritual expression, the relationship between church and state and how much a faith can adapt to culture without losing its essence are shown to go way back. Obviously taking this broad brush approach means you're conscious of skating over the surface of some big topics.

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