This and The Bible Companion reviewed below are being covered as general non fiction rather than ""religious books"" because they seem to this reader to belong to the layman rather than the theologian....Peter Bamm has recaptured the sense of excitement in the spread of the message of Christianity as it is reviewed over 2000 years. Here was no conversion by the sword, but a faith that won its way in first the Graeco-Roman world, at the time a world of external security under Pax Romana -- and then, in widening circles to the peripheries of that world. He gives a sense of immediacy to the characters and individualities of the apostles and others who carried the word. He makes one know the historical facts plus the legends -- confirmed today by archaeological findings, by carvings, paintings, mosaics, as ancient cities are rediscovered. Even the 200 years of virtual silence take on significance -- and a reexamination of the sparse records gives authenticity to the New Testament writings. The Roman civilization- the Byzantine- the rediscovery of the holy places as Constantine demanded confirmation of their existence- the contribution of the Crusaders- the stories of the early saints and hermits- and increasingly, in our own lifetime, the witness of new archaeological findings- up to the Dead Sea Scrolls -- all this is woven into a fascinating tapestry. Sometimes Bamm has used straight exposition; sometimes he has let the illustrations- some 365 of them- tell their story, with expanded captions. But his emphasis is on the period from the days of the apostles to the middle ages -- which laid the foundations of the world in which we live.