The Christian World: A Global History

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Random House Publishing Group, Jan 8, 2008 - Religion - 288 pages
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In this cogent volume, renowned Christian historian Martin Marty delivers a brief yet sweeping account of Christianity and how it spread from a few believers two thousand years ago to become the world’s largest religion.

Comprising nearly one third of the world’s population–more than two billion followers–Christianity is distinctive among major faiths in that it derives both its character and its authority from the divinity of its central figure, Jesus Christ. Examining this facet of Christianity from historical and sociological viewpoints, Marty lays bare the roots of this faith, in turn chronicling its success throughout the world.

Writing with great style, and providing impeccable interpretations of historical, canonical, and liturgical documents, Marty gives readers of all faiths and levels of familiarity with Christian practices and history a highly useful and supremely accessible primer. He depicts the life of Christ and his teachings and explains how the apostles set out to spread the Gospel. With a special emphasis on global Christianity, he shows how the religion emerged from its ancestral homelands in Africa, the Levant, and Asia Minor, was imported to Europe, and then spread from there to the rest of the world, most often via trade and conquest. While giving a broad overview, Marty also focuses on specific issues, such as how Christianity struggles with the polar tensions inherent to many of the faith’s denominations, and how it attempts to reconcile some of its stances on armed conflict, justice, and dominion with the teachings of Christ.

The Christian World is a chronicle of one of the great belief systems and its many followers. It’s a magnificent story of emperors and kings, war and geography, theology and politics, saints and sinners, and the earthly battle to save souls. Above all, it’s a remarkable testament to the teachings of Christ and how his message spreads around the globe to touch human experience everywhere.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Christian world: a global history

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Few scholars today could have attempted what Marty has done here; few combine Marty's broad scholarship and long experience with his accessible style: Swiss Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kƒ¯‚¿ ... Read full review

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Martin Marty, an accomplished and well-published religious historian provides in just about a little more than 200 pages a sweeping, succinct, and global overview of the “story of Christianity” from the first century to the present, trying to cover its presence in all continents. He makes a clear point that Christianity was a global faith from its inception and continues its global presence in the 21st century. The book is a kind of roller coaster ride of vicissitudes of Christian faith in different parts of the world. It brings home the point that even though the Christian faith may not be strong anymore in the place of its beginnings; it is definitely growing fast in new places even to the ends of the earth.
According to the author, the Christian faith had Jewish beginnings, continued into Asia, Africa, and then Europe. It then came to Latin America, North America and continues to expand in Asia and Africa where many more episodes are still waiting to be written. A very interesting topic in this book is the idea that Christianity has prospered more when it has not been championed by any specific governmental power. It should also be noted that where Christianity began strong is where it is also weak now in the 21st century.
V. John
It is a very sweeping, general history of Christianity but for the advance readers in Christian history it hardly offers any new thing. Due to its brevity, Martin has not been able to do justice to many issues, peoples, and places in history of the church and they will always accuse him of oversight or partiality. I would highly recommend it, however, for study groups interested in seeing the broad and brief sweep of Christianity around the world to appreciate that it has always been a global faith trying to find roots in the local soil. Since it is a very brief account the world Christianity many stories have been left out. It may be a good survey for beginners but has not much value for the advance reader in the history of Christianity except to learn how to succinctly pack hundreds of years of pregnant history in just a few words.

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About the author (2008)

Martin Marty was a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago– where its institute for advanced studies in religion, the Martin Marty Center, is named for him–for thirty-five years. He has written a number of seminal works on religion, especially A Short History of Christianity, and has received some seventy-five honorary doctorates. His awards include the National Book Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Chicago with his wife.

From the Hardcover edition.

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