The First Thousand Years
Robert Louis Wilken, Yale University Press
Robert Louis Wilken, Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia, records in great detail the stories of men and women who spread the Christian message to widely dispersed locations through the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Persia, and India and as far as China.
He covers a long period from the early missionary activity of the followers of Jesus, through “Paul’s rapid emergence as a commanding presence in the early Christian community” to the tenth century, by which time, “Christianity had the makings of a global religion”.
It is an enthralling account of persecution, as the first Christians resisted the Emperors’ insistence that all within the Empire pay allegiance to Roman gods; to the time when Constantine became Christian and Christianity the religion of the State.
The church was characterised by the establishment of hospitals and the introduction of learning institutions as monks ventured out and spread their faith.
The theological divisions within the church and the split between the East and the West, prompts him to comment, “The Church was no longer a small community of fervent believers; it was a large and unruly institution.”
The Church Councils attempted to define traditional belief in terms that have been embodied in declarations and creeds and which remain as recognised statements of Christian orthodoxy.
The references to such a range of people behind the growth of the Church as a whole are inspiring, as Christianity finds its place alongside the religions of the world.