Synopses & Reviews
First published in 1976, Paul Johnson’s exceptional study of Christianity has been loved and widely hailed for its intensive research, writing, and magnitude—“a tour de force, one of the most ambitious surveys of the history of Christianity ever attempted and perhaps the most radical” (New York Review of Books
In a highly readable companion to books on faith and history, the scholar and author Johnson has illuminated the Christian world and its fascinating history in a way that no other has. Johnson takes off in the year 49 with his namesake the apostle Paul. Thus beginning an ambitious quest to paint the centuries since the founding of a little-known ‘Jesus Sect’, A History of Christianity explores to a great degree the evolution of the Western world. With an unbiased and overall optimistic tone, Johnson traces the fantastic scope of the consequent sects of Christianity and the people who followed them. Information drawn from extensive and varied sources from around the world makes this history as credible as it is reliable. Invaluable understanding of the framework of modern Christianity—and its trials and tribulations throughout history—has never before been contained in such a captivating work.
"Paul Johnson, an English Roman Catholic, has given us the best one-volume history of Christianity ever done." Richard Marius, The Christian Century
"Paul Johnson's study of Christianity, from his namesake Apostle to Pope John XXIII, more particularly in relation to the role in world history of the Roman Catholic Church and other institutional manifestations, can only be described as masterly. It combines a great wealth of scholarship, including many fascinating byways as well as the main highways, with a vigorous, confident style, a kind of innate intesnity which carries the narrative along so that it rarely falters and is never dull." Malcolm Muggeridge, New Statesman (London)
"His is a tour de force, one of the most ambitious surveys of the history of Christianity ever attempted and perhaps the most radical. In eight sections, with a great range of reading and a knowledge that is never made tedious, he tells the story of the rise, greatness, and decline of Christianity." W. H. C. Frend, The New York Review of Books
"That the history of Christianity can be lucidly surveyed in a single, comprehensive volume of 556 pages is no small accomplishment. To Paul Johnson's credit A History of Christianity neither skimps on significant details or wallows in scholarly fussiness. Johnson provides a panoramic oversview of events which have shaped our twentieth century Western lifestyle far more than we realize....For economy of style combined with a sympathetic understanding of the nearly 2000 years of Christianity's conflicts as well as its glorious achievements, Johnson's History is exceptional." Michael McCauley, Commonweal
"Johnson has written a readable and provocative history based more on politics, economics and social and cultural facts than on theology....[He] bases his account on modern scholarship, achieves objectivity without aridity, arrives at the present age after examining the recurring cycles of religious response to situations." Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
It is now almost 2000 years since the birth of Jesus Christ set in motion the chain of events which led to the creation of the Christian faith and its diffusion throughout the world. During these two millennia Christianity has, perhaps, proved more influential in shaping human destiny than any other institutional philosophy, but there are now signs that its period of predominance is drawing to a close, thereby inviting a retrospect and a balance sheet. In this book the author has attempted to survey the whole history in one volume.
About the Author
Born in 1928 and educated at Magdalene College, Oxford, Paul Johnson was editor of the influential English weekly, The New Statesman, from 1964-1970, and is now Director, New Statesman Publishing Company. Mr. Johnson's prodigious scholarship and varied interests are evident in the themes of his books. Since publication of A History of Christianity he has written Enemies of Society, The Civilization of Ancient Egypt and Civilizations of the Holy Land.
Table of Contents
PART ONE The Rise and Rescue of the Jesus Sect (50 BC-AD 250)
PART TWO From Martyrs to Inquisitors (AD 250-450)
PART THREE Mitred Lords and Crowned Ikons (450-1054)
PART FOUR The Total Society and its Enemies 1054-1500)
PART FIVE The Third Force (1500-1648)
PART SIX Faith, Reason and Unreason (1648-1870)
PART SEVEN Almost-Chosen Peoples (1500-1910)
PART EIGHT The Nadir of Triumphalism (1870-1975)