20 May 2011

A History of Christianity

There's been a bit of a blog silence from moi for the last couple of weeks. No particular reason: just nothing significant to write about! After Graduation last week, I plunged into a huge amount of training and work - I think it's been two days in the office in the last fortnight. I've also been training a new colleague, who's been following me around watching me deliver training and getting a feeling for our style of delivery, which I found mildly intimidating at first! However, it's been quite good so far and he's going to co-deliver with me next week, so that could be interesting (I've never co-delivered training so am not sure how it works!).

However, the prompt for blogging has come from my brother. He has sent me the absolutely fabulous A History of Christianity BBC series by Diarmaid MacCulloch, the Professor of History of the Church at St Cross College, Oxford. This sumptuous series is beautifully filmed on location in some of the most important sites throughout Christian history, including China, Baghdad, Jerusalem, Rome, Spain, Mexico, all over Europe ... in fact, I am completely and totally green with envy over where he went to! It is engagingly presented by Prof MacCulloch, who is one of the world's foremost experts on the history of Christianity, and he definitely knows how to tell a good story and keep people interested. I spent years studying church history when I did my BMin but I've learnt things from his series that I never knew, including about the "Church of the East" centred in Baghdad and their mission to China and Japan in the 8th century!

The series is based on his magisterial A History of Christianity: the first three thousand years, which was a bestseller (and not just to church history nuts!) in 2009 on release - the Archbishop of Canterbury has called it the "definitive work" in the field - which is something coming from a scholar like Rowan Williams! A good story well told... to the point that I have just ordered the book from Amazon. Can't wait - but think it might not be one for lugging to work for lunchtime reading as it's over 1200 pages....

Some personal highlights from the first four episodes of the programme: the rediscovery of a Christian church in China dating from the 8th century (now being used as a Buddhist monastery); his extremely clear and lucid discussion of the causes of the Great Schism in 1054 between Orthodox and Roman churches; the Church of the East; nearly a whole episode devoted to Orthodoxy, looking at it in Eastern Europe, Russia, and other places. I am waiting to hear his treatment of monasticism - I've seen four of the six episodes (the other two are on their way, I'm told!) and so far he hasn't dealt with monasticism at all and you can hardly trace the history of Christianity without looking at the influence of monks!

This is fascinating, beautiful, interesting history. Even if you're not into God, church, or anything else "religious" it's worth watching because he investigates the links between Christian history and the political landscape beautifully, and the locations are just stunning. Thank God for the BBC, is all I can say right now!

1 comment:

Sphenodon said...

yeah it's rather good. unlike you i'd read quite abit about the eastern god botherers (thats kinda ironic really!).
but yep, great series, and I've read some of his stuff but had been putting off getting the book...may weaken soon.
glad your enjoying it too :)