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Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years…
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Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (edició 2011)

de Diarmaid MacCulloch (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses / Mencions
2,315376,849 (4.19)1 / 82
We live in a time of tremendous religious awareness, when both believers and non-believers are deeply engaged by questions of religion and tradition. This ambitious book ranges back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible and covers the world, following the three main strands of the Christian faith, to teach modern readers how Jesus' message spread and how the New Testament was formed. We follow the Christian story to all corners of the globe, filling in often neglected accounts of conversions and confrontations in Africa and Asia. And we discover the roots of the faith that galvanized America, charting the rise of the evangelical movement from its origins in Germany and England. We meet monks and crusaders, heretics and saints, slave traders and abolitionists, and discover Christianity's essential role in driving the Enlightenment and the Age of Exploration, and shaping the course of World Wars I and II.--From publisher description.… (més)
Membre:MichaelTourville
Títol:Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
Autors:Diarmaid MacCulloch (Autor)
Informació:Penguin Books (2011), Edition: Reprint, 1184 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years de Diarmaid MacCulloch

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Christianity, one of the world's great religions, has had an incalculable impact on human history. This book describes the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organisation and spirituality, and how it has changed politics, sex, and human society.
  Jonatas.Bakas | Nov 21, 2023 |
For most of the book, my biggest problem is one that's basically impossible to solve in something with such a sweeping objective - too much stuff passes by in a flurry of names and dates without enough detail to understand it. To be clear he does go into detail on some stuff! But I kept finding myself wanting more. And obviously that's an unreasonable ask in even a big book on the history of 2000 years.

When it gets to modern times it's more things that I have Strong Opinions on and feel a bit hmm about. He talks about the French Revolution for a couple of pages and it's just a depiction of it as a ridiculous, horrific bolt from the blue with no motivation other than murderous terror, leading to him defending the Catholic church and presenting it as the *actual* popular movement. The line "Against a French Revolution which represented more than two decades of male nationalist violence, the Church found itself managing an international uprising of women - what has been termed with a pleasing overturning of modern sociological assumptions 'ultramontane feminism'" made me put the book down - it's an erasure of women's role in the French revolution, an erasure of the entire history of male violence that's been a significant factor in the church, and an erasure of actual feminism in favour of a movement devoted to subjection to a male-only church.

The bigger issue here is that it puts his failures to cast judgement in other areas into a worse light, and the most egregious example is slavery. It becomes more and more obvious that the examples he's using are 95% the positive examples of Christian resistance to slavery while giving very limited space to the dominant Christian slavery defending and racist views. He mentions the way Noah's curse on his grandson in genesis became a tool for biblical justification of racism...but incredibly he focuses on it (apparently) having first been stated by a Jewish scholar and then follows up with reference to "scientific" racism to soften the blow. He emphasises evangelicals' role in the abolition of the slave trade, focusing inevitably on Wilberforce and insisting it was a mostly moral decision, then mentions the colonisation projects of Sierra Leone and Liberia, where a racial hierarchy was created on the basis of which Africans were sufficiently Christian, with no greater judgment that that it later caused "troubles". To a large extent I assume he thinks the bad will speak for itself, but the extent to which he minimises the culpability of Christian institutions or at least hedges it with the language of good intentions is noticeable and pretty bad. The sections on Christianisation of the Americas are also particularly bad on this - emphasising the "good" of syncretism and cooperation of native elites and the examples of those who spoke out against the genocide while barely paying attention to Christianity as justification for said genocide.

A particularly clear example: he dedicates 4 good sized paragraphs to the American Civil War. First he splits Evangelicals 3 ways - abolitionists/slavers/african americans. He describes the defence of slavery as rather bizarrely "sliding" into white supremacy and explicitly makes the point that both abolitionists and slavers were "equally angry". Then he states the outbreak of the civil war, where the "tensions exploded into fighting" and it was "ostensibly not about slavery but about individual states' rights to make decisions on slavery for themselves" without explaining further. And then we get the line "Already the rhetoric of the struggle had been cast in terms of Christian moral crusade, thanks to the barely sane actions of a fervent Calvinist from a family long committed to the abolitionist cause, John Brown."

Woah. Hang on. "Barely sane"? After a couple of paragraphs which explicitly did not include any moral condemnation of slavers and muddied the waters instead of preventing the facts which condemn them, suddenly John Brown is brought up just to attack him. The whole paragraph after I'll quote here. I may well be making too much of it! But it bothers me.

Brown came from the same generation as Joseph Smith, and he remains just as controversial a figure, though nature endowed him with more potential than Smith for looking like an Old Testament prophet Proud of a New England Puritan heritage but unusual among abolitionists in embracing violence for the cause amid the rising tide of violence in the Midwest, he reversed the dictum of the High Priest Caiaphas on the death of Jesus, proclaiming that 'it was better that a score of bad men should die than that one man who came here to make Kansas a Free State should be driven out'. Accordingly in 1856 he was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of five pro-slavery activists, but despite that hardly defensible crime, his Northern canonization as an abolitionist martyr came as a result of his seizure of an undefended Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry three years later. When the raid failed to arouse a black insurrection, Brown sat tight in the arsenal and waited to be martyred, which the Commonwealth of Virginia duly did, for the moment casting oblivion over the crazy character of his campaign. A Massachusetts newspaper editorial picked up the mood: 'no event . . . could so deepen the moral hostility of the people of the free states to slavery as this execution'.


The comparison to Smith is bizarre. He completely elides the horrific context of "Bleeding Kansas" to make it seem like Brown's words are just an absurd unprovoked piece of violence. His "campaign" was "crazy" - before this point the term crazy isn't used by him pejoratively and talk of sanity is only used of Ivan the Terrible and John of Leyden (as an aside, John of Leyden is presented as an evil figure in the 1 sentence about him, but it's unsourced and looking it up Wikipedia points out all the sources on him are by his enemies who were massacring Anabaptists. weird pattern, this). By not putting any of this into context he's made John Brown's actions inexplicable and therefore the abolitionist support of him too.

The next paragraph then completely changes tone as we go back to the slavers' perspective. Apparently "the suddenness of the change in Southern society, the freeing of four million human beings, was a deep trauma to add to the sheer destructiveness and death of the war itself," which feels a pretty gross way of talking about it. "Southerners [a term here clearly excluding Black people] took revenge on Black Christians [excluding a lot of Black people!]" "They also viewed their own plight as that of an endangered victim culture. For the prominent Southern Baptist pastor in South Carolina and Alabama E. T. Winkler, that sense justified his defence of the Ku Klux Klan to Northern Baptists in 1872 as an example of necessary 'temporary organizations for the redress of intolerable grievances'. It was unlikely that he would apply the same argument to any temporary organizations which threatened blacks might form... "The scars persist in American society to this day."

None of this is a serious handling of the American Civil War, Reconstruction or slavery in America. By not providing any context to the naive reader, focusing on the "crazy" John Brown and repeating a narrative that slaver sympathisers hold today with only mild implicit criticism - and surely accidentally but dodgily implicitly tying Black personhood to Christianity, readers will come away with a very warped view.

The problem is as I said before it's clear who's getting the benefit of the doubt. The section on Mormons incredibly avoids criticism of the church. Mormon polygamy is mentioned but it's emphasised that Brigham Young, a horrible misogynist racist, implemented polygamy "with as much public decorum as the nineteenth century would wish". The end of it is an "incursion of external liberal values" along with the allowing of Black men into the priesthood - the racist ban is not explained at all. Almost unbelievably he refers to the revoke of the ban as "allowing men of Negro descent" to become priests - I believe this is a quote but it's not in quotes. He says "Wholesome prosperity... has become a worldwide Mormon speciality". It's a bizarre whitewashing.

As it moves through the modern era you get a description of the civil war that presents the Republicans as the aggressors against the Catholic Church and describes their purported crimes against the clergy in lurid detail for several paragraphs while again giving no context of Spain's horrifically unequal society at the time. Then for "balance" he mentions that Franco set up an authoritarian secret police but with no details. The average reader is going to come away thinking the Nationalists were right.

I've put up with enough. I got about 90% in so I didn't technically finish but close enough. I'm not reading any more and can't seriously recommend it given his constant willingness to cover for the right wing established order and for Christians in general as against misleading and outright dangerous slavery apologism used to describe the people who tried to change things. Screw this. ( )
1 vota tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
There's not a lot to fault here. The fascinating story occasionally gets bogged down in religious terminology and you may need a scorecard to keep track of all the various players art some point, but McCulloch's narrative is compelling and fair. This is not a book about the truth of the bible or the integrity of biblical text, although it touches upon those matters. It is more a book about the beginnings of the Christian Church, its success in putting down early heresies, then its later splits into Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant (and all the sub-varieties within at least the last two of these.) Along the way a modern reader should be repulsed by the violence committed in the name of religion--I won't even say in the name of god, although I'm an atheist, since it is so clearly about preserving the hegemony of one church or another. McCulloch tries to point out good things along the way, and a few folks do emerge as principled and thinking. But the church leadership (see The Bad Popes for some good examples) is often out of touch with reality. Infallibility? Give me a break. The last part of the book focuses on the changing nature of Christianity after its separation from government. McCulloch makes some hopeful noises, and yes, despite those of us who just wish it would go away, religion still holds a central part in the lives of people all over the world, including well over two billion Christians. I just have to be honest and admit that they are going to outlast me. But books like this do provide a better understanding of and even some enjoyment in Christianity. ( )
  datrappert | Oct 4, 2022 |
This was a rather long and rambling history. To be fair, any history that is trying to cover so much is likely to be so, but I came away feeling that I learned very little because there was no structure to stick the information to. It was just 40 hours (audio version) of fact after fact after fact.

As a casual reader of history, I want my history woven onto some framework. Not forced into it, but given enough consistent presentation that the reader can build a mental model. Of course, the choice of any such framework is going to necessarily mean that some things are left out, but the reader will remember more.

To be more concrete, with respect to this book, MacCulloch tried to cover both Christianity in its context as a mover of European history and many of the theological debates over Christianity's history (as well as much more). If he had just stuck to one -- e.g., the European historical perspective, bringing in the theological debates only when they effect the political situation -- then the book would have been more coherent.

Overall, I've gotten much more pleasure out of the more narrow histories I have read, such as Karen Armstrong's [b:The Bible A Biography|520771|The Bible A Biography|Karen Armstrong|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1328774634s/520771.jpg|1980253]. They don't cover nearly so much, but they are actually memorable. ( )
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
This book is a dense tome of christian history and as comprehensive and extensive as it is, you'll probably need to re-read it. There are just too many strands of history and theology interwoven to have it all stick on one read through. The book should be read side by side with a history of Europe, since the evolution of christianity is so closely linked to the historical political changes, however MacCulloch doesn't make the mistake of seeing everything through the "politics through other means" lens (until, arguably, the end of the book). Theological changes are allowed to be the origin of political change and movements, rather than the reverse.

The weakest part of the book is clearly the last that extends into modern history where it becomes wrapped up in the politics of near history and doesn't have the page count and depth left to substantiate much of what it claims. But it is easily forgivable given the very readable and comprehensive history that precedes it. ( )
  A.Godhelm | Mar 14, 2022 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 37 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Ultimately, despite a few hiccoughs, MacCulloch proves a learned and genial guide to the welter of Christianities that come within his purview. And, on a generous reading, every bit of this unruly efflorescence of Christian life is precisely the story MacCulloch wants to tell, since it proves “a vital lesson to learn for modern Christians who wish to impose uniformity on Christian belief and practice which has never in fact existed.”
 
It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive and surprisingly accessible volume on the subject than MacCulloch’s. This is not a book to be taken lightly; it is more than 1,100 pages, and its bulk makes it hard to take anyplace at all. Want a refresher on the rise of the papacy? It is here. On Charlemagne and Carolingians? That is here, too. On the Fourth Crusade and its aftermath? Look no farther.
afegit per eereed | editaNew York Times, Jon Meacham (Apr 1, 2010)
 
Sprawling books like MacCulloch's pose a unique challenge. His admirers know him best for his penetrating work on the theological divisions that led to the Reformation schisms. But with this book, he has shown his readers that he can hold our attention over the long-haul as well. [...] Every home should invest in a copy of this fine book. You won't finish it in a single session, but you will find yourself reading it for years to come.
 
Diarmaid MacCulloch, one of the best historians writing in English, has tackled with verve the gargantuan task of telling the story of the world’s largest faith community over the whole of its history. [...] MacCulloch has given us a model of lucid and sympathetic exposition, vast in scale, wide in coverage, and conspicuously fair-minded: this is a generous book, in every sense of the word.
afegit per Widsith | editaThe Telegraph, Eamon Duffy (Oct 11, 2009)
 
The great strength of the book is that it covers, in sufficient but not oppressive detail, huge areas of Christian history which are dealt with cursorily in traditional accounts of the subject and are unfamiliar to most English-speaking readers [...] Yet the book as a whole is dull, and a struggle to read. [...] Despite overcrowding, I shall keep this book on my shelves, for reference. But I can’t imagine anyone reading it for pleasure.
afegit per Widsith | editaThe Spectator, Paul Johnson (Sep 26, 2009)
 

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Diarmaid MacCullochautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Dixon, WalterNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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In seventeenth-century England, there lived a country parson called Samuel Crossman. A rather reluctant Anglican of Puritan outlook, he spent most of his ministry in a small Gloucestershire parish, whose chief hamlet is delightfully called Easter Compton, though briefly at the end of his life he was Dean of Bristol Cathedral.
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‘Who is so silly as to believe that God, after the manner of a farmer, planted a paradise eastward in Eden, and set in it a visible and palpable tree of life, of such a sort that anyone who tasted its fruit with his bodily teeth would gain life?’ Origen might be saddened to find that seventeen hundred years later, millions of Christians are that silly.
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We live in a time of tremendous religious awareness, when both believers and non-believers are deeply engaged by questions of religion and tradition. This ambitious book ranges back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible and covers the world, following the three main strands of the Christian faith, to teach modern readers how Jesus' message spread and how the New Testament was formed. We follow the Christian story to all corners of the globe, filling in often neglected accounts of conversions and confrontations in Africa and Asia. And we discover the roots of the faith that galvanized America, charting the rise of the evangelical movement from its origins in Germany and England. We meet monks and crusaders, heretics and saints, slave traders and abolitionists, and discover Christianity's essential role in driving the Enlightenment and the Age of Exploration, and shaping the course of World Wars I and II.--From publisher description.

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