Chapter 1 The General Situation At the birth of christ, the lands which surrounded the Mediterranean Sea were under the political control of Rome, whose empire embraced not only the coastal territories but their hinterlands as well. Bounded by the ocean and by the Rhine and Danube rivers to the north of the Mediterranean, it encompassed North Africa and Egypt and stretched in the East to the borders of Armenia and of the Persian Empire. In the century and a half before the appearance of Christianity, the sway of the Senate and People of Rome was extended from Italy to include not merely Gaul, Spain, and North Africa in the West, but also, in the East, the Hellenistic monarchies which had succeeded to the empire of Alexander the Great. This time of expansion coincided with an era of growing conflict and instability in the social and political life of the Roman republic. The assassination 44 B. Preserving the form of republican institutions, Augustus as Octavian was officially and reverently named in 27 B.
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Shelves: anthropology-sociology , history , politics , textbooks , theology Like many Christians, I feel as if I know far too little about the history and development of my own faith tradition. Thus, I was looking for an overview of Christian history, and this seemed to be one of the more authoritative and definitive texts.
It has been around for a while and I know a number of pastors and theologians who have it on their shelves as a core text. The plethora of authors on the front cover will tell you how old it is and how often it has been expanded and revised. The Like many Christians, I feel as if I know far too little about the history and development of my own faith tradition.
The edition I read was copyright , but the original author died in Given the immense scope of what the book covers, it is remarkably lucid and readable.
Walker and his collaborators describe the historical events of the Christian faith as well as the political, social and economic events that affected the development of that faith into an organized religion and church.
Given the length of the book just over pages , it is impossible for too much detail to be offered, but the key dates, events and personages are given thumbnail sketches and the major inflection points, controversies and schisms are all covered. At times, I was a little frustrated because the book would jump backwards or forwards in time to pick up another angle on a particular era e.
There is just too much content and remembering each name, place and incidence becomes challenging, if not impossible. I was struck by a couple of things while reading this. One was that there has long been a huge messy intertwining of temporal and spiritual power in the history of religion Christian or otherwise.
We still wrestle with this topic today, especially in the US, as political candidates and business leaders are sometimes judged on their faith and values. Some feel that it is good to know what a politician or businessperson believes about God while others think that such disclosures have no place in public life. But our conversations and conflicts around faith in the public sphere are nothing like the outright wars of the Middle Ages as popes and kings went into battle to seize or retain power.
The other thing that struck me was how much things remain the same. Some of the theological arguments of the early years of the faith - the nature of the Trinity, our understanding of the nature of Christ, the exact mechanism of atonement - are still being argued today, years later. But it provides the reader with the overview needed to have a general working knowledge and perhaps to begin deeper study.
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A History of the Christian Church