Summary

How did a persecuted sect in 1st-century Palestine rise to command such a massive influence on human culture, imagination, and spirit? How did Christianity weather the first critical stages of its historical development and attain its fundamental and enduring cultural role?
Speaking incisively to all of this and more, these 36 enthralling lectures tell the phenomenal story of Christianity's first 1,500 years, in all its remarkable diversity and complex dimension. In the company of Professor Johnson of Emory University, you'll follow the dramatic trajectory of Christianity from its beginnings as a "cult of Jesus" to its rise as a fervent religious movement; from its emergence as an unstoppable force within the Roman Empire to its critical role as an imperial religion; from its remarkable growth, amid divisive disputes and rivalries, to the ultimate schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism; and from its spread throughout the Western world to its flowering as a culture that shaped Europe for 800 years.
Throughout this series, you'll look deeply into the nature and role of faith, the ethos of our civilization, and the core conceptions of identity and ethics that underlie the Western worldview. This is history in the most vivid and meaningful sense of the word: an inquiry into the past that opens a compelling awareness of our present-of our living origins, our ultimate horizons, our deeper selves.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

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4 out of 5 stars
By Graham & Rachel Hall on 17-04-17

At least listen to it if you are going to review

Any additional comments?

To be clear, the narrator speaks of Constantinian 'sponsorship' and it is explicitly stated that Christianity was not made the official religion of the empire until Theodosius I. The person who said otherwise clearly was not listening intently enough.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 26-05-18

A Compelling Tour d'Horizon

An authoritative and succinct account of these turbulent times, from a learned lecturer who's always in control of the grand narrative.
Highly recommended.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Mike on 20-12-13

An Overview of the First Half of Christian History

Any additional comments?

This lecture series (the great courses are a lecture series rather than a strict audiobook) was a good overview of the first half of Christian history going from the world of Christ to the reformers and reform movements just before the time of the Protestant Reformation. The lecturer as a Christian himself, a biblical scholar, and a capable historian has a fairer perspective on the events than some more purely academic religious scholars might. Anyone who is interested in the subject will benefit from the content in this book. As someone who has read widely on Christian history, I did have a few small disappointments. The content did not seem as thorough or capturing as some of the books I had read previously on the subject. I also found the lecturers voice and style to be a little boring at times. I should also note that those interested in learning about some of the "outside" groups in Christianity (Coptic Church, Ethiopian church, oriental church, etc.) will find these groups mentioned, but not expounded on in great detail. In summary this is an interesting and fair introduction, but I do think you can find better books for those new to this subject or interested in learning more. If this had been my first book on Christian history, I don't think I would have been as eager for a second... but I am sure those who are interested will enjoy the read and scholarship it represents.

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13 of 15 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Joseph T. Richardson on 13-02-17

Outstanding historian; well-rounded history

This is an excellent, well-rounded course in Christian history I would recommend to any and all of my friends. Speaking as a professing and practicing Christian, a Catholic convert from Evangelicalism, and one with a graduate degree in history, I can say that Luke Timothy Johnson presents a well-rounded and well-balanced account of the history of the faith that should be palatable and beneficial to any Christian, covering with wide breath and remarkable depth both the Eastern and Western traditions. Dr. Johnson is an engaging and eloquent speaker who gives a nearly flawless delivery. By far the greatest strength of the course is the clarity and vividness Dr. Johnson brings to the complex and sometimes arcane landscape of early Christian Christological and Trinitarian heresies: what they were really about and why they mattered. He speaks from a western, Catholic background, but is no Catholic apologist. Catholics will find their general conception of the Church and its worldview validated, but Dr. Johnson takes to task many developments over the course of Christian history that removed the focus and practice of the Church from the pure message of Christ: persecutions over theological difference that eventually resulted in the Inquisition -- not the bloody myth of Protestant polemic, but nonetheless, in his view, a shameful exercise of intolerance; the Crusades, the making of war in the name of Christ; and liturgical accretions that increasingly removed the practice of the faith from the laypeople. Catholics will find their faith in their own institutions examined critically: not everything in the Church today is as it always has been, and not every development was for the better. Protestants will find some of the claims of the early Reformers validated, but perhaps their polemics against the origins and history of the Catholic Church challenged. Personally, the course brought me renewed compassion for my Protestant brethren and for the Reformation: reform was badly needed, as much as we may deplore the way it was carried out and the fragmented state of Christianity today.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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