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The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation Lecture

The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation

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Publisher's 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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (150 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Mike 12-20-13
    Mike 12-20-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    125
    31
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    "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.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas from Blaine Blaine, WA, United States 01-03-15
    Douglas from Blaine Blaine, WA, United States 01-03-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    8
    6
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    "Evidence-Based History of the Church"

    Fascinating history of the Church. With attention to early, Jewish narratives, eastern Orthodoxy, and Catholic Christendom.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph T. Richardson 02-13-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    6
    2
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc La Verkin, UT, United States 08-09-14
    Marc La Verkin, UT, United States 08-09-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Great job, making history fun to listen to"
    Would you listen to The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation again? Why?

    Yes, so I can retain more the info, especially the names and the did.


    What other book might you compare The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation to and why?

    Vikings, Because both tell history like a suspense novel


    What about Professor Luke Timothy Johnson’s performance did you like?

    His voice and pace.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    How the rise of Christianity shaped the world.


    Any additional comments?

    I felted even though he is Catholic, he was honest in his dealing with their history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard G. Schuette 06-05-15 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    "Great survey of Early Christianity."

    Luke Timotblhy Johnson goese deep into the topic and treats Christianity with respect throughout. He keeps the lectures and presentation very accessible. I highly recommend this series.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Turner 10-28-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
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    Story
    "Informative but not engaging"

    I found this course helpful as a backdrop to my other studies in church history, but often dull as far as telling an engaging story concerns.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Shields 09-19-17 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1080
    ratings
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    306
    221
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    "Catholic theologian recounts Christian history"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randy L. Buckner 07-28-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
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    Story
    "A great audible production"

    This is an excellent and thorough production for anyone interested in a detailed understanding of Christianity! Performed by a very learned professor of theology! Anyone interested in the history of Christianity including the highs and the lows should listen to it! Luke Timothy Johnson is excellent!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles 07-18-17
    Charles 07-18-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    138
    1
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    Story
    "Not for novice."

    Not for novice. Much terminology used but difficult to research when just listening. Found it difficult to follow.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Main California 01-03-16
    Elizabeth Main California 01-03-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
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    "A good overview of Christian history"

    Professor Johnson did a good job of illuminating the attitudes and disputes of the earlier ages of Christianity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Graham & Rachel Hall
    4/17/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • LilKajsa
    U.K.
    9/7/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An excellent overview"

    A great way of looking at the broad sweep of the development of the European church. So many themes that seem modern such as different forms of spiritual expression, the relationship between church and state and how much a faith can adapt to culture without losing its essence are shown to go way back. Obviously taking this broad brush approach means you're conscious of skating over the surface of some big topics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Don
    9/9/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good overview, but biased"

    This is very enjoyable account but perhaps should be called "A History of Catholicism in Context" (the narrator admits this bias at the start). The writer/narrator presents, at times, a very personal account and is clearly a firm devotee of Christianity which will appeal to some listeners, but perhaps not to those looking for a clinical historical analysis. It is strongest on the first 500 years of Christianity and presents an excellent overview of the complexity of early Christianity, in particular it's Jewish and Greek influences. I would have liked some more detail on non-European Christianity, but all in all there was much well presented information to take away from this overview to give the reader a good introduction to this field.of study.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    3/22/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"

    Fabulous over view. V well done. It would be handy if the chapters had written headings. Highly recommended. Thank you.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • GoneToTexas
    7/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fails in the first lecture"
    Any additional comments?

    In the first lecture, the lecturer claims that Constantine made Christianity the State Religion. Wrong. Constantine made it a legal religion. It was Theodosius I some 67+ years later who made it the State Religion.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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