Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The History of Christianty DVD Set

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years is a six-part series co-produced by the BBC, the Open University, and Jerusalem Productions and presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch, one of the world’s leading historians and Professor of History of the Church and Fellow at St. Cross College, Oxford. As MacCulloch reveals the true history of Christianity, he explores the question, “What does it really mean to be a Christian?”

While most Christian histories start with St. Paul’s mission to Rome, MacCulloch asserts that the Christianity stayed much closer to its Middle-Eastern roots and that, in fact, the first Christians actually took the eastern road from Jerusalem, spreading their faith across Asia, even to parts of China.

“Today, Christianity is seen as a Western faith. Indeed, many in the Muslim world would see Western lifestyles as Christian lifestyles. But Christianity is not by origin a Western religion,” MacCulloch says. “Its beginnings are in the Middle East, where there still exist churches which have been Eastern since the earliest Christian era. The story of the first Christianity tells us the Christian faith is, in fact, hugely diverse with many identities.”

MacCulloch is one of the most widely traveled Christian historians, and A History of Christianity is the first retelling of the Christian story that is truly global in scope. Filmed in high definition, A History of Christianity takes viewers on a 2,000-year odyssey that reaches the farthest corners of the world, from Palestine in the first century to India in the third, from Damascus to China in the seventh century, and from San Francisco to Korea in the twentieth.

My review:
I was given the first DVD in the set to review, The First Christianity, so my review is of that one only, but what I saw impressed me. There is interesting narrative and history given, and also a lot of fascinating footage of Jerusalem and Turkey. The author/guide knows his "stuff", and anyone interested in learning more about the history of Christianity in a new and interesting way should check out these DVDs. You will not be disappointed.

About the author:

Diarmaid Ninian John MacCulloch has been Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford since 1997 and Fellow of St. Cross College, Oxford, since 1995. The history of Christianity is a subject MacCulloch has been immersed in all his life as the last in three generations of Anglican clergy. “I was a country parson’s son. When I was a small boy, my parents used to drive me around historic churches searching out whatever looked interesting…but soon, they realized they had created a monster,” he says. “The history of the church became my life’s work. For me, no other subject can rival its scale and drama.” MacCulloch is one of the most widely-traveled Christian historians in the world.

From 1978 until 1990, MacCulloch was a tutor at Wesley College, Bristol, and taught Church History in the department of Theology at the University of Bristol. He interrupted his teaching to study for the Oxford Diploma in Theology (awarded 1987) at Ripon College Cuddesdon. In 1987 he was ordained deacon in the Church of England and from 1987 to 1988 he served as Non-Stipendiary Minister at Clifton All Saints with St. John in the Diocese of Bristol.

MacCulloch attended Hillcroft Preparatory School and Stowmarket Grammar school in Suffolk, and subsequently read History at Churchill College, Cambridge (BA 1972, MA 1976), where he was organ scholar. He took a Diploma in Archive Administration at Liverpool University in 1973, and then returned to Cambridge to complete a PhD in Tudor History under the supervision of Sir G. R. Elton (awarded 1977), combining this with a position as Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College. MacCulloch was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (1978), a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (1982), and a Fellow of the British Academy (2001). He is a Doctor of Divinity of the University of Oxford (2001) and in 2003 was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of East Anglia. He co-edits the Journal of Ecclesiastical History. This year, he was recognized in the UK with the Longman/History Today Trustees’ Award, given annually by the Trustees to a person or institution that has done outstanding work to promote history.

MacCulloch’s book Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490–1700 (2003) won the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award, the Wolfson Prize and the British Academy Prize, adding to his earlier success in carrying off the 1996 Whitbread Biography Prize, Duff Cooper Prize, and James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Thomas Cranmer: A Life. A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, was published in September 2009 with a related television series on BBC 4, which is being released on DVD in March 2010.

Thanks to B&B media group for the review copy.