Christianity: A Short Global History

Article excerpt

Christianity: A Short Global History.

By Frederick W. Norris. Oxford: OneWorld, 2002. Pp. 296. Paperback $20.95.

Global Christianity has dramatically emerged as a hugely non-Western phenomenon, rendering problematic the almost exclusive emphasis on the Western phase of its history in the standard curriculum. In response, new survey courses have arisen, producing a demand for monographs detailing a history of global Christianity. Frederick Norris's volume is a valuable and timely addition to this body of literature.

The book is divided into eight chapters, spanning from the emergence of the Christian faith as an obscure movement all the way to its present post-Western Christendom phase. It is a decidedly historical work, meticulously researched and richly detailed. What gives the work special significance, however, is the author's unique approach. Each chapter is framed by three interrelated questions:

What kinds of relationships have Christians had with other people of other faiths? How have Christians functioned within various cultures? and Have Christians over the centuries developed a recognizable core of practices and beliefs?

This framework enables the author to probe indigenous responses to the Christian faith, demonstrate how Christians living in pluralistic settings have listened attentively to other faiths, highlight the immensely variegated nature of Christian practice and beliefs worldwide, and illustrate how persecution and suffering (rather than privilege and comfort) have been the more defining characteristics of the daily lives of Christians throughout its history. …


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