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Christianity Audiobook

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

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Publisher's Summary

Once in a generation, a historian will redefine his field, producing a book that demands to be read and heard - a product of electrifying scholarship conveyed with commanding skill. Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity is such a book. Breathtaking in ambition, it ranges back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible and covers the world, following the three main strands of the Christian faith.

Christianity will teach modern listeners things that have been lost in time about how Jesus' message spread and how the New Testament was formed. We follow the Christian story to all corners of the globe, filling in often neglected accounts of conversions and confrontations in Africa and Asia. And we discover the roots of the faith that galvanized America, charting the rise of the evangelical movement from its origins in Germany and England. This audiobook encompasses all of intellectual history - we meet monks and crusaders, heretics and saints, slave traders and abolitionists, and discover Christianity's essential role in driving the enlightenment and the age of exploration, and shaping the course of World War I and World War II.

We are living in a time of tremendous religious awareness, when both believers and non-believers are deeply engaged by questions of religion and tradition, seeking to understand the violence sometimes perpetrated in the name of God. The son of an Anglican clergyman, MacCulloch writes with deep feeling about faith. His last book, The Reformation, was chosen by dozens of publications as Best Book of the Year and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. This awe-inspiring follow-up is a landmark new history of the faith that continues to shape the world.

©2010 Diamaid MacCulloch (P)2010 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

"Assuming no previous knowledge on the part of readers about Christian traditions, MacCulloch traces in breathtaking detail the often contentious arguments within Christianity for the past 3,000 years. His monumental achievement will not soon be surpassed." (Publishers Weekly)

"A work of exceptional breadth and subtlety." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (630 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Anna 03-23-16
    Anna 03-23-16
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    "History with a spin"

    The narrator mispronounces names and words, which I found irritating. And the author does allow his personal feelings to bleed through. An example is his antipathy for Paul.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 04-15-14
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 04-15-14 Member Since 2016
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    "Not a good first book on the subject matter"

    I have no background in the subject matter and found the book incredibly difficult to follow since he's constantly throwing out terms that are new to me. Soon as I understood one theological school of thought he'd throw another one at the listener, and by that time I would be completely confused and wonder what the point he was trying to make in the first place.

    I think the book is probably a fairly good history, but a listener must have some kind of religious background to fully appreciate the discussion points brought up by this thorough history on a topic for which I still know almost nothing about.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WSV1975 08-29-12
    WSV1975 08-29-12
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    "read the book, but do not accept ever assertion!"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This was time well spent, a lot of time. The author has the idea that he is writing a complete history of Christianity. He alludes to the fact that he is a modern British author, and a friend of Christianity, which is code for "I no longer believe in Christ, I am too modern for such a view, but I appreciate the things the Christian culture has brought to the world." One gets the idea that McCullough was writing for his peer group of secular, atheistic British scholars. His has done his home work, and his detailed descriptions of much of the historical processes of the institution of the Church is informative and interesting. However, he makes unsupported assertions throughout the book criticizing the motives or the church which is distracting and often shocking in a book that is supposed to be a clear history of the church. One gets the idea that this is a piece of rebellion against the author's father, who was a priest in the Church of England.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Clearly I did not really understand the way the institutional church split into western, eastern and Russian churches. Often the politics of various leaders of nations worked to co-opt the leaders of the church to get the church to support the secular leaders. Often church leaders were forced to make political decisions for the good of the church as an institution. There were great leaders and weak leaders of the various churches throughout the ages, but the church survived. I also did not understand the development of the Coptic Christians in Egypt. Fascinating reading, but keep in mind the author has a political, secular agenda and watch for his unsupported assertions about the church's leaders and their motives.


    Have you listened to any of Walter Dixon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This was a good audio book.


    Did Christianity inspire you to do anything?

    Yes, I was inspired to do much more research due to the unsupported assertions concerning the motivations of various church leaders that the author makes. This additional research has been wonderfully confirming of development of the Christian culture in the west and the key role the church has played in creating the civilization of charity we have today.


    Any additional comments?

    Listen to the book, but keep your ears open. I bought a copy of the book as a reference and have used it concerning the historical facts that are presented.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Sioux Falls, SD, USA 11-05-10
    Amazon Customer Sioux Falls, SD, USA 11-05-10 Member Since 2017
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    "Astonishing book, but oddnesses in the reading."

    I have nothing but high praise for the book. It is an enormous undertaking, and it succeeds remarkably well. I have one personal problem with the audio presentation: the narrator possesses a very good, very smooth voice. I wish he had taken the time to look up some of the words instead of just deciding on a pronunciation. It was very disturbing to the flow of the book to hear a word pronounced in an unfamiliar way.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 11-07-10
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 11-07-10 Member Since 2017
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    "Too thorough for audio perhaps?"

    I tried to make it to the end of the audio, out of sheer stubbornness, but about 2/3 of the way through I bailed, and finished the print (e-book) version. The history, and even the theology, were fine, but the Middle Ages/Renaissance begins a heavy emphasis upon philosophy; I tried fast forwarding through that, which proved ineffective. The historical aspect resumes after the French Revolution (for those interested).
    Narrator does a good job with material that becomes highly technical (I won't quibble with "dry") at times, but he just couldn't carry the conversational tone for several dozen hours.
    Recommended on audio only for those truly into theology and philosophy, rather than history and sociology. Perhaps because I agree with the author's point-of-view, but I didn't have trouble with "bias", not minding his asides particularly.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Owasso, OK, United States 09-15-10
    Steve Owasso, OK, United States 09-15-10
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    "Surpised"

    The information is clearly huge in scope and the author appears to be well acquainted with the various influences on the development of Christianity in the west as well as the east. Early one a bias against the validity of the Christian faith begins to come out with unnecessary criticism and surprising praise for the faith of Islam. So, it becomes hard to accept this as an unbiased history.

    29 of 50 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Danielson Dupont, WA United States 10-04-10
    David Danielson Dupont, WA United States 10-04-10 Member Since 2017
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    "Bias"

    I was hoping for a scholarly work, to shed some light on an area that I am lacking, but the work is so biased that it is beyond insulting. I am very upset that I wasted a credit on something so one sided. In this book, only a fraction of the history of early Christianity is being portrayed, and that is the side that discredits the entire belief system, aggravated by negative editorial comments.

    The most recent part I listened to, being just one of hundreds of derogatory biased statements, was to the effect that Constantine ordered 50 copies of the bible to be made, which required 5,000 cow hides, this fact followed by a quip "so much for Christian dissaproval of animal sacrifice." I would think this was funny if it were in a backroom conversation, but find it inappropriate in a 'history' text.

    If you are hoping, as I was, for a neutral rendition of history, you will have to look to another source. Too bad Audible doesn't give a refund for books like this.

    54 of 96 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 01-27-12
    Michael 01-27-12
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    "Don't Expect an Unbiased or Accurate History"

    I have been extremely disappointed with this book. MacCulloch has an axe to grind against Christianity. It was a waste of a credit. I am still waiting for a quality history of Christianity, this book is not it. The book is filled with speculation, conjecture and the author's opinions.

    While he covered some of the history and in many respects was enlightening, whenever possible he will take a negative slant against Christianity. There are too many areas where he speculates about the absence of documents and then proceeds to impute his theory on what a particular thinker, saint or actor in Christian history "might really have said". I am looking for unbiased history. If it comes out good or bad so be it. There are enough facts, writings and archeological evidence regarding Judaism and Christianity that there is really no need to speculate on what may or may not be missing. Or what late Christians/the Church may or may not have excised from the records. So many of his statements are conjecture ending with "we may never know".

    I do not write this to defend Christianity, the book is just bad history writing filled with the author's supposition and outright hostility.

    MacCulloch throughout this book makes snide comments on people and practices he writes about, speculates about things that don't exist and will continually give his opinion on the intent of whom he writes.

    A much better writer is Rodney Stark and the book: The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion. It does not cover the Hebrews or Church history in as much detail but gives excellent treatment to the preceding roots of monotheism.

    19 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    yegorius 10-23-17
    yegorius 10-23-17
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    "Fantastic"

    Exactly what I was looking when searching for an audiobook about Christianity and Hebrew history. Author gives ample homage to the roots of Christians and speaks about the Greeks and Jews in the era before Jesus. I love the many quotes from the Bible that are referenced as well as the connection to non-religious history which support the events of the Old Testament.

    The narrator was just awesome. His speak pattern and intonation was perfect, pausing and putting emphasis where needed, truly drawing me into the story.

    I didn't like the author's blatant disregard for religion in general in the beginning of the book. But I suppose that's all for the better, as he is clearly not biased to write through a religious viewpoint but rather to tell history as fact.

    I - as a Christian with a practical (read: factual) view of the world and of history - was pleased to discover through this audiobook that historic events in the Bible are supported by non-Biblical historic records.

    One thing I would tell the author is to not confuse what is written in the Bible with what Christians follow today. Specifically I'm referring to Christmas, which is never mentioned in the Bible.

    Talking more specifics: I liked to have confirmed through the audiobook how historians are baffled by bits of the Bible about Melchizedek, King Cyrus. History has no explanation why those people existed and did what they did, only Bible reveals that. And also how there was no consensus between early Christians what the Holy Spirit was. Actually, just recently these mysteries were revealed and made clear.

    I was very disappointed to find out that there was only a brief mention about the Counsel of Nicea in 321 AD and that the author had not mentioned that it was then that the official day of rest for the Christians was changed from Saturday to Sunday by emperor Constantine and that the Passover - a tradition also kept by Christians at the time - was abolished 4 years later. Today there are only a handful of churches who keep Sabbath and only one church that keeps all the feasts of God.

    At the same time I was pleased to have confirmed through non-Biblical references that the Catholic Church was overthrown Europe-wide by the French Revolution, a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

    I was happy to have confirmed that Korea did not accept Christianity until the 20th century, an important fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Of course I have my own bias in regards to this, as I firmly believe that the true Christian church comes from Korea, again, to fulfill Bible prophecy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    karen j wheeler 10-12-17 Member Since 2015
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    "The best book on the history of Christianity."

    Neither a hack job nor a paen to Christianity. Includes the distortions, mistakes, misunderstandings, and hate filled conflicts as well as the pain that went into trying to interpret Christianity correctly. Anyone who loves to learn about the historical twists and turns of Christianity will find this an enjoyable read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Peter Thomas McNeely
    8/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Pedestrian historiography, shockingly bad reading"

    Diarmaid MacCulloch wrote mostly as I expected: an unchallenging, unprovocative, uninspired but well informed survey, mostly useful for its inclusion of material on non-Chalcedonian Christian traditions.

    Walter Dixon failed fairly spectacularly. His tone was dull. He frequently put emphasis on clearly unemphatic parts of a sentence or paragraph. He read as a joke things which were not jokes, and missed the actually humorous asides. Most distracting was his clueless pronunciation. Simple words like diocese, Karl Barth, ecumenism and other non-technical terms were butchered each in a variety of ways. This was as distracting as hearing "Uncle Tom's Cabin" called "Uncle Tim's Cabin". This may not be his fault. His producers should have sorted this out, just like you would expect a director to make sure his actors can all pronounce the names of the other characters.

    I am returning this audiobook.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    11/16/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "That’s 46 hours of my life I won’t be getting back"

    Constanteen. Seveerus, indefateegable......this reader really likes his ee sounds. Tough gig, reading a global history with words and names from so many languages, so a bit of leeway must be allowed. But this guy missed the mark so many times it was a mighty feat of endurance to make it all the way to the end. Amongst my favourites: Judy-ism, which I presume is the worship of Ms Garland; Edinboro, capital of Scotland, assession to the throne....I thought he was doing alright with French after a beautiful pronunciation of Tours, but then along came Saint Denis. Oh dear. Pronounced like an English person talking about the beatified Mr Bergkamp.

    As for the content, extraordinary scholarship, although patchy and opinionated in places. And one or two contentious assertions, for example that the liberation of Eastern Europe from Communist control could not have happened if John Paul II had not visited Poland in 1978.

    War, persecution, torture, hatred, bitter and fierce rivalry, slavery. How has that turned out to be the legacy of a pacifist rabbi? Yes you’ll hear about humanity, courage, philanthropy and kindness. But that’s probably less than 5% of what you’ll hear in this history. What’s that all about, Christians? Perhaps that’s another book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr C D Ashley
    3/8/16
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    "fascinating"

    this book took me by surprise. I'm on the sceptical end of the spectrum, but i think this should be compulsory reading. etymologists of the English language will love it. very interesting introduction to Islam contained within. inspires me to check out various historical and religious phenomena in Greater detail. impressive marathon by the narrator - no doubt some pedants will be upset by some of the pronunciations though... i thought he hit the right tone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • brighthammer@hotmail.com
    Croydon, UK
    4/17/15
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    "Great book."

    The book and the reading were super, but I would probably have enjoyed an abridged version just as much as it was difficult to keep up with all the events in the story.

    The last chapters in particular are tricky to keep a hold on as the events jump around quite a lot in the chronology.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • mr j
    11/22/12
    Overall
    "Epic, but more reference than story."

    I've had it for obverse a year and still haven't got through it all. Perhaps a better read than a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • WILSON
    Ventenac en Minervois, France
    3/30/12
    Overall
    "Comprehensive and endlessly fascinating"

    I'm an atheist, but I have a continuing interest in the history of the great religions, not least because of the impact that - rightly or, in my view, wrongly - they continue to have on the world. I downloaded this book having seen Diarmaid MacCulloch's BBC Television series on Christianity and also heard him talk on various radio programmes such as In Our Time.

    The scale of the project, and in particular the brilliant notion of starting the history of Christianity a thousand years before Christ, is astonishing. Diarmaid MacCulloch wears his scholarship lightly, but never patronises the reader/listener, and the way in which different strands of the worldview are intertwined is absolutely fascinating. It's a big book and it takes a long time to get through, but it is well worth it. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stewart Gibson
    South Africa
    11/18/11
    Overall
    "Lively interesting highly informative work"

    OK you need to have an interest in the history of Christendom. Not Christianity mind you-that you can work out yourself from the New Testament Bible reading. Christendom as it is today has an extremely colourful origin. This remarkable work will explain so much of why modern day Christendom is so different from 1st Century Christianity. I listened to the work while driving and will one day listen again.And it was well read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • N. Hammond
    UK
    10/19/15
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    "Tendentious but engaging as a concept"
    Would you try another book written by Diarmaid MacCulloch or narrated by Walter Dixon?

    MacCulloch: perhaps, but not without greater care. Dixon: yes, I'd given him a whirl (if not in the scholarly text field).


    Would you ever listen to anything by Diarmaid MacCulloch again?

    I doubt I'd waste a Credit on his material, which is sad because he was some fine insights, sadly lacquered over with undigested - or uncritical - Modernity (already a long since dead-end path in understanding the oddities of non-Enlightenment belief systems).


    What didn’t you like about Walter Dixon’s performance?

    An American Class Room voice, quite pleasant and easily understood, yet I did not find him suited to reading out this level of strident scholarship.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Christianity?

    The Modern Mind assumptions, the removal/ challenging of which would ruin just about the whole work. Perhaps in one hundred years it may be read, if anyone could be bothered, as a quaint piece of of very late Modern polemic.


    Any additional comments?

    A tendentious but engaging as concept, ultimately not worth the Credit given to buy it. Other scholars have presented the same intolerant Enlightenment perspectives of other beliefs, but have manged to do so with greater charm. A post-Post-Modern reassessment of the one-time 'Modern' assumptions that cripple this otherwise thought-filled - yet not thought-provoking - book would be welcome.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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