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A Short World History of Christianity

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  • Ana Braga-Henebry
    Thanks to J. M. for the suggestion via The History Place group. Check to see if this title is already in your library s catalog. If it is, put a hold on it and
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6 5:18 AM
      Thanks to J. M. for the suggestion via The History Place group.

      Check to see if this title is already in your library's catalog. If it is,
      put a hold on it and check it out. If not, fill out a patron request
      form right
      away. This can usually be done online at your library's website.

      Title: A Short World History of Christianity
      Author: Robert Mullin
      Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press
      Date Published: March 18, 2008
      ISBN: 0664226868
      Price: $ 19.77
      Amazon Link:

      Review by George Weigel in Catholic World Report:
      I can’t remember precisely when I fell in love with history, but it
      was surely in the first innings of my reading life. Granted, this was
      easier in the days when history was written and taught as, well,
      history â€" meaning drama, heroes and villains, great arguments, wars
      and revolutions, and all that other dead white male stuff.

      I was fortunate in my third grade teacher, the estimable Sister Miriam
      Jude, S.S.N.D. (then a postulant known as Sister Florence); she had
      sold World Book encyclopedias on the side during her days as a
      Philadelphia public school teacher and talked my parents into buying a
      set. Thanks to the World Book, I was off to the historical races.

      Then there were Random House’s “Landmark Books,” wonderful
      history-for-young-readers, written by real historians, not overly
      dumbed-down, and costing around $1 for a hardback. I owned dozens and
      read more than a few of them several times. Thus prepared, high school
      and college history were fun, not drudgery, and to this day, reading
      good narrative history is a never-failing pleasure.

      History, that is, like Robert Bruce Mullin’s A Short World History of
      Christianity, recently published by Westminster John Knox Press. It is
      no easy business, getting two millennia of Christian history into 283
      readable pages. But Mullin has done the job in a readable style that
      makes the fruits of his impressive ample scholarship available to a
      general audience.

      Mullin is a master at sketching brief portraits of key figures in the
      Christian story. He neatly disentangles the great â€" and often daunting
      â€" trinitarian, christological and mariological controversies of the
      first centuries in a thoroughly accessible way.

      Unlike many, perhaps most, historians of Christianity, he understands
      that the Christian contest with Islam has been a defining experience
      of Christian history, ever since the armies of Islam broke out of the
      Arabian peninsula and swept across what was, in the seventh century,
      one of the vital centers of the Christian world â€" North Africa. His
      description of the accomplishments of the often-deplored Middle Ages
      is both just and enlightening, as are his depictions of the
      Reformation, the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the European wars of
      religion. His attention to the tremendous missionary expansion of
      Christianity in the 19th- and 20th-centuries is a useful reminder, in
      this Pauline year, that great Christian missions didn’t stop with St.
      Paul â€" or St. Francis Xavier, for that matter.

      What’s the relationship between the story told so well by Mullin and
      the history I inhaled with those World Books? When history was taught
      properly, the sequence was usually organized by chapter headings that
      read something like “Ancient Civilizations,” “Greece and Rome,” “the
      Dark Ages,” the Middle Ages,” “Renaissance and Reformation,” “the Age
      of Reason,” “the Age of Revolution,” “the Age of Science,” “the Space
      Age” or some such. From a Christian perspective, however, that is
      history read on its surface.

      For there is another way to schematize the human story. Its chapter
      headings would run something like this: “Creation,” “Fall,” “Promise,”
      “Prophecy,” “Incarnation,” “Redemption,” “Sanctification,”
      “Proclamation,” “the Kingdom of God.”

      That story â€" the biblical story, if you will â€" does not, however, run
      parallel to the “real” story as taught in the history textbooks. The
      story that begins with “Creation” and culminates in “the Kingdom of
      God” is the human story, read in its proper depth and against its most
      ample horizon. For the central truth of history is that history is
      His-story: the story of God’s coming into time and our learning to
      take the same path that God takes toward the future.

      In A Short World History of Christianity, Robert Bruce Mullin offers
      us, not a theological interpretation of history but a concise
      narrative of the Church’s life in the world â€" the Church’s life
      between “Redemption” and “the Kingdom of God.” To know that story is
      to see how, in specific personalities and communities, both the Spirit
      promised to the Church and the ancient enemy have been at work,
      shaping what the world regards as “history.” It’s a story every
      literate Catholic should know.

      Weigel is a distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public
      Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
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