The Story of Christianity
Peter Partner, ABC Books
This coffee table book of the television series of the same name from 2001 is an evocative study of the history of Christianity. It tells the story of a religion that has inspired devotion and conflict and formed the framework for the political, cultural, scientific and social history for much of the world for the last two millennia.
Part One looks at Christianity’s origins in Judaism, and follows its spread through the Roman Empire and beyond, the loss of Jerusalem to Islam and re-conquest in the Eleventh Century.
Part Two takes us through the second millennium, from the flowering of the Middle Ages in the great medieval cathedrals of Western Europe, through the rupture of the Church in the Reformation, to the modern world.
The book is a very accessible and exhaustively researched study. Peter Partner considers the key moments in Christianity’s history: its origins, spread and its impact today. The narrative presents the story of the religion mainly from an outside perspective but it does so with great respect. Partner focuses on what is generally agreed from an historical perspective, and reports significant disputes about interpretation without judgment or bias. This makes the book a very useful skeleton that can be fleshed out with further reading.
The book is lavishly illustrated throughout with the images that have helped to define the religion, although they are not always relevant to the adjoining text. Nevertheless they inspire wonder about the lived faith of the people through the ages. This unique book combines a level of academic excellence with a high dose of populist appeal and would be a welcome addition to any coffee table and a great introduction to the story of our faith.