The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity by Robert Louis Wilken

By Robert Louis Wilken

How did a neighborhood that was once principally invisible within the first centuries of its lifestyles cross directly to remake the civilizations it inhabited, culturally, politically, and intellectually? Beginning with the lifetime of Jesus, Robert Louis Wilken narrates the dramatic unfold and improvement of Christianity over the 1st thousand years of its background. relocating during the formation of early associations, practices, and ideology to the changes of the Roman international after the conversion of Constantine, he sheds new gentle at the next tales of Christianity within the Latin West, the Byzantine and Slavic East, the center East, and crucial Asia.

Through a specific narration of really noteworthy people and events, Wilken demonstrates how the arriving of Christianity set in movement essentially the most profound revolutions the realm has known. This isn't a narrative restricted to the West; fairly, Christian groups in Ethiopia, Nubia, Armenia, Georgia, Persia, critical Asia, India, and China formed the process Christian history. The upward push and unfold of Islam had a long-lasting influence at the way forward for Christianity, and a number of other chapters are dedicated to the early stories of Christians below Muslim rule. Wilken reminds us that the occupation of Christianity is characterised by means of decline and attrition in addition to by way of development and expansion. 

Ten years within the making and the results of a life of research, this is often Robert Louis Wilken’s summa, a relocating, reflective, and commanding account from a pupil on the top of his powers.

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For them the law was a good and holy thing, a gift from God that gave grace and beauty to their lives and lifted their hearts to the praise and adoration of God. Their faithfulness to the Jewish law (in matters that still define Jewish observance) was a sign of a living faith. It is tribute to their faithfulness that they were unwilling to jettison the ancient ways of their people without a vigorous defense of their traditions. Even when the matter came to a decision at a meeting in Jerusalem (Acts 15), according to the Acts of the Apostles, they proposed a solution in traditional Jewish terms.

But it took some time for this way of ordering the Church’s life to establish itself as the norm across the Christian world. In other regions, particularly in the larger cities, there was a constellation of small groups each with its own elders. In the course of the second century, however, the principle of one bishop for a city gradually took hold, and by the end of the century it had become almost universal. The reasons were several. The single bishop was the sign of the unity of the Church. As Ignatius put it, there is one Eucharist, one altar, one cup, one Christ, and one bishop.

They had a strong sense of unity among themselves, but they were only loosely organized. This unity was to be severely tested by another controversy in the second century, the dispute over gnosis. Gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge, and gnosticism is a term coined by modern scholars to designate an amorphous grouping of schools of thought within Christianity (or on the edge of Christianity) led by gifted and controversial teachers with a distinctive understanding of Christian revelation. The beginnings of gnosticism are obscure, but its spiritual home was Alexandria, the cosmopolitan Greek-speaking city in Egypt on the Mediterranean coast where a school of sacred learning had been established in the second century.

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