Most histories of Christianity span two to three volumes. In spanning two or three volumes, they are often broad surveys which touch on the major events of Christianities development. The positive consequence to this is the reader receives a plethora of information. The negative is the reader often must do further research on a topic because there is so much information. Certainly, students would enjoy different aids to specific eras of Christianity.
John McGuckin’s book The Path of Christianity: The First Thousand Years is such an aid to students of Christian history. This volume is an in-depth view of pivotal events that shaped Christianity for the next thousand plus years. I have found in my own study that more resources are written on Christian development in the 1300s through the present-day based upon the events of the Reformation. It is rare to find such a work that traces Christianity from the end of the apostles to the Medieval era.
I appreciate this book for several reasons. First, it is massive. The book itself is large, but that is because McGuckin has taken the time to conduct and present his research in a way that any interested in the history of Christianity will find this book of use. Second, I appreciate this book for its lay out. McGuckin tells the reader in the introduction that you will want to alternate reading chapters. This, according to McGuckin, prevents the reader from becoming overwhelmed. Each chapter has a specific layout- historical analysis, a “short reader” of primary sources, and a further reading list. I find the further reading list commendable because it provides more resources to further research interests.
I love Christian history. I do not think enough church members (and even pastors!) read enough of the development of Christianity. It is paramount to understand from where the church has come so that we can wisely and prayerfully discern where to go. This volume of the history of Christianity in the first one-thousand years is a monumental work that deserves to be recognized. I hope you will add this to your bookshelf and take the time to read.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from InterVarsity Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and a positive review was not required. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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