• The Modern Scholar: From Jesus to Christianity: A History of the Early Church

  • By: Thomas F. Madden
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. Madden
  • Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (244 ratings)

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The Modern Scholar: From Jesus to Christianity: A History of the Early Church

By: Thomas F. Madden
Narrated by: Thomas F. Madden
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Publisher's summary

Entrusting the apostles to continue the work he had started by instructing them to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit . . .," Jesus kindled the fires of a new religion in a world largely dominated by polytheism, cult leader worship, and mysticism. In the first century of its existence, Christianity was both welcomed and vilified throughout the Roman Empire. Many of Christianity's original adherents were martyred - murdered by those who believed it a danger to their authority or, at the very least, the cause of unrest among an otherwise docile populace.

Christians themselves practiced their religion with great diversity, linked as much to local influences as theology. Political intrigue, theological beliefs, and simple misunderstandings created a need for dialogue between the many practitioners of the growing faith.

Christianity's adoption as the official faith of the Roman state tied it inexorably to the fortunes of the Empire. This also helped to create a gulf between the two main theological branches of the religion, which remain to this day.

©2005 Thomas F. Madden (P)2005 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Modern Scholar: From Jesus to Christianity: A History of the Early Church

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great course

If you looking for people who want to try to twist history into sensationalist claims then I guess Dr. Madden won't be for you. You won't get the recently popular nonsense about how Mary Magdalene had Jesus's baby on the coast of France or whatever. If missing out on that means it will be boring to you, then this will be boring.


But he gives allot of the information regarding early church history and doesn't have an axe to grind. With him it seems facts first and then theories. The theories may not be as spectacular but they also aren???t horribly misinformed. And I will say even the seemingly less sensational theories that spring up from listening to his lectures have always given me allot to think about.



As far as his tone of voice and that sort of thing, I had no problem with it. But then again I find the material interesting.

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15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Agree this is very boring and superficial

I agree with the previous reviewer (Doug). The content is superficial, good for only those who have never read any religious studies ( in which case, you would not start with this anyway). I totally agree with his criticism of the "Professor" - he exudes boredom. He scans dates and people and events in a "bare bones" dry and tedious presentation, adding nothing of color or background to help the listener connect or understand people who lived 2000 years ago.

Download and scan the accompanying study guide - you can finish this in an hour, thereby saving the other 7 hours and one credit

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15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Review of all the Reviews...and the Lecture

Before I purchased this lecture I read all the reviews to make sure it was worth my time and money. I was confused when I saw about 60% positive at 5 stars and then 40% at 1 star. How could such a lecture be so great, and so terrible?! I tried to take into account each persons review but in the end I still had to make the decision based on the reviews. Since this was my first Modern Scholar lecture I figured I should give the positives the benefit of the doubt. Boy am I glad I did! I was looking for something the gave a brief outline, with some half decent detail, to the early church. This course hit that head on. I now have a general understanding of the major themes and situations and can choose which one(s) I want to learn more about and which I'm not so interested in.

I'm a little disappointed with the negative reviews, especially with such low ratings as 1 star. I'd like to counter each of those negative reviews with my personal thoughts:

1.) "Boring and Superficial". What are you expecting, a sermon? This is a lecture class, not a church setting. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Christian, and there is a good place for a sermon, and much of this information could and should be used in sermons, but this is not a sermon. This is a history lecture, and for that, I give it 5 stars. If you are interested enough in a topic the lecture does not need to be energetic and zesty, you will get what you want out of it.

2.) "Boring even to the presenter". Very similar response to #1, not sure what exactly you are looking for?

3.) "Disappointing". I agree that this course is just a "primer", but how much can you really get into in only 7 hours of audio? This course gives a great overview of the major themes and was great for someone looking at such a broad topic as the title shares.

4.) "Zzzzzzzzzzz". Not much of a review, maybe you were tired, get some sleep.

5.) "Doesn't sound very scholarly". This was the only review that I found was slightly correct in it's analysis. However, this review would only possibly be for the first 3-4 lectures. I agree there was a slight bit of jumping around from topic to topic, for this I would rate it 3.5 stars, but even then, not as terrible as you make it. As for his Bible content, again, this is not a sermon. He uses the Bible for it's history, not it's spirituality. This is fine to do for a history lecture. There's a place for each.


Overall I would give this 4.5 stars. I'm going to listen to a few more modern scholars and then perhaps I can have a view of some others to compare it to, but stand alone I thought it was a great overview of what the title promised.

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14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A good lecture

This is the first set of lectures by Professor Thomas Madden on the Church History. The lecture starts with the time of Jesus Christ to the Chaucedon and Nestorian expulsion. Madden's lectures are generally consistant in quality and I enjoy them, but for people prefer humourous lecturing styles, some may find him monotonous.

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14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Introduction to History of Christianity

If you are looking for a historical introduction to how Christianity began and spread, this is a great place to start ! The content is solid ! After listening to this book you will be able to understand and explain how Christianity spread after the death of Christ and the early establishment of the Church.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Boring, even to the presenter

Remember the worst lecture class you had in college or the most boring speech you ever heard? This audio is so bad that even the presenter/lecturer seems bored and distracted.

The content is pretty superficial. But you may not notice that because you will not listen more than half an hour.

I love religious studies, especially the New Testament. It amazes me that this professor could ruin what should have been an exciting audio.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Talented Educator

I have now bought 5 or 6 of Professor Madden's lecture series. The professor is especially talented in making complex subjects easy to understand. I now understand the history of the Church much better than ever, despite having read a number of books on the subject. As others have pointed out, he's not the smoothest speaker, but the content itself is very interesting and entertaining.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Zzzzzzzzzzzz.......

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Forced my way through 5 chapters, couldn't take it any more. My first Modern Scholar program, hoping the next is more entertaining.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great lectures

I'm unsure what anyone is on about as far as this being hard to listen to. it's a LECTURE, it's not to entertain - it's to educate. It does that well. I'd have been fine having a class with this guy in college. He's no Ben Stein, if you're interested in the topic you won't fall asleep

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Eye Openning

I am editing my review since learning more and then listening again. There is a lot of good information presented in here. The problem that I found - in myself - is that I was heavily biased as a Christian. I have since come to believe differently than when I first listened. With a properly open mind this is an audio book well worth having.

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