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A Global History

by Martin E. Marty

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-679-64349-4
Publisher: Modern Library

Christian history within the context of continents as well as content.

Eminent religion historian Marty (Emeritus/Univ. of Chicago; Martin Luther, 2004, etc.) copes with the limitations of a slim volume by focusing on Christianity’s global character and its continued emphasis, however fractured, on Jesus Christ. He begins by tracing “The Jewish Beginnings,” then follows Christians into Asia and Africa, as Roman persecution drove them east from Jerusalem. Constantine’s conversion ushered in “The First European Episode”; the second came as the faith was stymied in Asia and Africa during the Middle Ages. Marty goes on to explore the spread of Christianity to Latin America and North America, closing with the faith’s resurgence in Africa and Asia. His honest attempt to view Christianity from a truly global perspective and as a global religion is to be commended, especially since most church histories basically present the European perspective with only slight nods to other regions. Instead, Marty looks for evidence of the church “going global” across its history. Though he pointedly notes the many heroes the religion has spawned, he does not shy away from the controversial, often brutal role Christians have played in the faith’s spread. Emphasizing the unique place held by Jesus among believers, he stresses that no matter how poorly some Christians have emulated Christ, the religion’s defining mark is the belief that “the human Jesus is the exalted Lord.” Marty’s account has a slightly Protestant bent, but he employs an effective combination of erudition and accessibility. A helpful glossary is included.

Sturdy church history, vivified by a fresh, though not always seamless approach.