A World History of Christianity

A World History of Christianity

A World History of Christianity

A World History of Christianity


Christianity is the most global of religions. However, most books on the subject fail to do justice to the history of Christianity outside Europe and North America. This prodigious work provides the first genuinely global one-volume study of the rise, development, and impact of the Christian faith.

Written by an international team of specialists, this comprehensive volume covers the full breadth of Christian history while also taking seriously the geographical diversity of the story: extensive chapters cover North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, India, China and its neighbors, and Australia and the Pacific. Though unified in scope, these chapters each focus on what matters most in the specific time and place covered, ensuring that readers are introduced to the major themes-social, theological, political, and cultural-that together constitute Christianity's role in world history.

Ideally suited for classroom study as well as for independent reading, A World History of Christianity will serve as the definitive study of church history for the coming generation worldwide.


This book originated in the course of 1994, in correspondence between Judith Longman, at the time a Religious Editor at Cassell, and Peter Hinchliff, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Oxford. He had recently contributed a chapter to the Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, but, in retrospect, felt that that book, impressive as it surely is, remained rather too Eurocentric, perhaps even too ecclesiocentric, in the way it was shaped. He wanted to attempt something in which the history of Christianity was seen as related more organically to the diversity of the world’s cultures and regions and in which full justice was done to Asia, Africa, America, Australasia and the Pacific.

The plan was agreed, a submission date of early 1997 set, and thirteen contributors were signed up for its various chapters. Peter himself was due to write no more than the Introduction. Then, in October 1995, he died very unexpectedly and Cassell invited me to take over the editing. As I was already part of the team, commissioned to write the Latin American chapter, and as I certainly did not want Peter’s project to fall apart without him, I agreed to do so. in 1996 one contributor withdrew on grounds of ill health and was replaced. Then in 1997 two more did the same, inevitably disrupting the programme for publication. Benedicta Ward and Gillian Evans gallantly agreed to take over the Western medieval chapter at very short notice. When, however, in October, the writer of Chapter 2 on the Graeco-Roman world withdrew, I decided to write that chapter myself in order to avoid the considerable delay which could be occasioned by seeking an entirely new contributor when most of the rest of the book was already complete. This is the explanation of why two chapters have been written by the editor, together with the Introduction.

I am enormously grateful for the collaboration and patience of all who have taken part in the production of this book with its somewhat troubled history. Perhaps in that it reflects its subject! I can only hope that it . . .

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