The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation by Luke Timothy Johnson

The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation by Luke Timothy JohnsonSummary: Catholic theologian/historian recounts the history of the early church.

Luke Timothy Johnson is a professor at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. He is a former Benedictine monk and priest before going back for his PhD. Since 1976 he has taught at several Catholic institutions as well as Indiana University, Yale and now Emory.

I have been interested in several of his books for a while, but I haven’t gotten around to reading them. So as is standard when I am interesting in an author I picked up books that go on sale, which often are books that are targeted toward a general audience.

The first book of Johnson’s I read was A Very Short Introduction to the New Testament. I thought it was a helpful introduction, primarily focusing on the content of the New Testament and not the scholarship around the New Testament as is common for the Oxford Press series.

I have read a number of History of Christianity surveys. Part of what is interesting in reading a number of survey’s of Christian history is the decisions that get made on what to include and what not to include. The big subjects will pretty much always get included (in this case, the councils, Constantine, the fall of Rome, the split between the East and West, etc.)

But Johnson is Catholic and so there are some issues he approaches differently than many Protestants. And that is helpful. He is clear from the beginning that he is approaching this as a Christian telling the story of the early Christians.

My impression was that Johnson is on the Liberal side of the Catholic world. However, he seems to be pretty standard in his faith statements. He grounds the early sections on Jesus, the apostles and New Testament. He is for the mostly traditional assumptions about the authorship of the New Testament.

As with any subject where this is the fifth or sixth time approaching the subject, there was little that was new here. A few nuggets here and there, but a fairly traditional presentation.

I am not a huge fan of Johnson’s voice and this is a series of lectures. It isn’t bad enough that I won’t listen to him again. It just isn’t my favorite. He reminds me of Richard Rohr’s overly emphatic style.

The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation by Luke Timothy Johnson (Great Courses) Purchase Link: Audible.com Audiobook

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