Owen Chadwick, an eminent church historian, has written an original, sweeping history of the Christian faith from the perspective of a people's religion. A History of Christianity will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in one of the most powerful influences on global civilization. Starting with Christianity's origins as a Jewish sect, the author shows how Europe was converted; and then how the Christian faith was accepted by the Americas, much of Africa and parts of the East. He discusses the effects of the faith on the lives of believers throughout two millennia: the mutually uneasy relationship of the early Christians with the State; the rise of great monastic and clerical institutions, the different holy orders and their roles in disseminating the faith; Christ's imitators, and the canonization of exemplary Christians; the coming of the Protestants, and their attitudes towards work, worship and religious toleration; and Christianity's decline in Europe but expansion into the wider world, alongside twentieth-century issues such as the emancipation of women, birth control, Muslim fundamentalism, Nazi racism and Marxist atheism.
In addition, he explains the evolution of the faith'sartistic expression: the development of ecclesiasticalarchitecture, from discreet house churches in the Roman age, via the soaring splendour of the Middle Ages, to the studios of the TV evangelists; the rituals, including theinterpretations of the sacred texts, vestments, and the rise development of ecclesiastical architecture.