The Lost History of Christianity will change how we understand Christian and world history. Leading religion scholar Philip Jenkins reveals a vast Christian world to the east of the Roman Empire and how the earliest, most influential churches of the East---those that had the closest link to Jesus and the early church---died. In this paradigm-shifting book, Jenkins recovers a lost history, showing how the center of Christianity for centuries used to be the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, extending as far as China.Without this lost history, we can't understand Islam or the Middle East, especially Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Complete with maps, statistics, and fascinating stories and characters that no one in the media or the general public has ever heard of, The Lost History of Christianity will immerse the listener in a lost world that was once the heart of Christianity.More
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Lost history of eastern Christianity
Lost History isn't the best book I've ever read, but it was a learning experience. I've even taken some courses on Christian history before, and outside of a few paragraphs here or there, almost none of the "lost history" was covered. There really was no part of the book that didn't offer some good insight or things to think about. That said, however, there is little fluff in the book and it is crammed full of information and it really would take a few readings to digest it all. There was so much information that if I had to take a test over this book, I would be really worried right at the moment.
One of unexpected pluses of the book is that it isn't just a history of Christianity. It covered Christianity in relation to other religions in the Middle East, and in doing so, also went a long way in giving some history of said other religions (Islam, Buddhism, etc.). In fact, I found the author to be really fair on his assessments. For instance, he pointed out some periods of history where Islam won battles and gained ground, and Christians wrote that they were actually glad to not be under the rule of Rome any more. And when history changed and Christian persecution under Islam escalated, he didn't gloss over things or make excuses for them. But at no point did I feel he wasn't pretty fair to all parties involved, even though the book was obviously written from a Christian viewpoint of the events.
All in all, Jenkins is a gifted writer, and he gave me a new way to look at certain things...things I have seen as "watering down" Christianity for decades now, I at least have a little different perspective on now.
I saw one reviewer state that at one point in his life, he didn't think some of the groups -- Jacobites, Nestorians, etc. -- were true Christians. I might get a few details wrong here, but I got a chuckle of out one part of Lost History where a representative from Rome finally got to visit Christians in Ethiopia (I think), and they treated him badly and said he was not saved because he was outside of the Ethiopian church hierarchy. Yep. They were real Christians, all right!
Worthwhile with caveats