Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch – Part 3

Christianity: The First Three Thousand YearsTakeaway: Eastern Christianity is much more complicated than what is usually understood as an Evangelical Protestant.  I need more about this period to really understand what is going on.

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The next section of the book traces the variety of Eastern manifestations of Christianity.  The church reached out into China and India and interacted with Hinduism and Buddhism.  And the Eastern portion reached as far east as the isolated Ethiopean Church.

This is a wide ranging section and I have very little background in this portion of Christian history.  So it is hard for me to evaluate the writing.  Really makes me want to reach out and read more of this area of history.

I also wish MacCullouch spent more time defining terms.  This is an area where reading instead of listening would have been better.  If you read it is easier to go back and re-read a section or refer back to a section to make sure you really understand before moving on. But if you are listening it is harder to know where to go back to or what portion to re-listen to.

This section also deals with the rise of Islam and how it interacts with Christianity.  MacCulloch presents it as much less violent and forceful in its expansion than what many others I have read have presented it.  I also found it interesting that in presenting the rise of the Mongolian Empire that he suggests that there are many that thought that the Khans might bring about a unification of the Christian church.  I would have never thought that this might have been a real thought, but it is pretty convincing that at least some did.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

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8 Comments

Dearest in Christ,
I have not read the book, but plan to very soon. I just wonder though how much the author quotes people like Pliny, Eusebeus, Josephus, Clement, Ignatius, Plutarch and the many other early writers. For it is extremely difficult, from my perspective, to discover very much that is new. By the way, I like this area very much and have been a student of Christian history for a little over 30 years. Anyway, I am always excited to read a new “spin” on history, theology, and doctrine as we have perceived it through the centuries. One of the first problems was that of establishing “orthodoxy doctrines and beliefs to unify the sprawling church, and also simultaneously fight the confusion and dissent in the first 100 years as well as identify and try to eliminate “heresy”. For several years this was fluid. But as the gospels were written and the many epistles this task became a bit easier and the true church, the body of Christ, began to congeal.

Sorry for the lengthy comment, I can’t help myself sometimes. Anyway, thank you for the post and your astute observations and comments. I look forward to reading more.
— Ley

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