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The Story of Christianity, Volume 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation (Story of Christianity) [Paperback]

By Justo L. Gonzalez (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   448
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.17"
Weight:   1.07 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 18, 1984
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060633158  
EAN  9780060633158  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

The Story of Christianity, Volume 1, is an informative, interesting, and consistently readable narrative history. It brings alive the people, dramatic events, and ideas that shaped the first fifteen centuries of Europe, such as the Spanish and Portuguese conquest of the New World. Historian Justo Gonzalez shows how various social, political, and economic movements affected Christianity's internal growth.

Gonzalez skillfully weaves in relevant details from the lives of prominent figures from the apostles to John Wycliffe, tracing out core theological issues and developments as reflected in the lives and struggles of leading thinkers within the various traditions of the church. "The history of the church, while showing all the characteristics fo human history, is much more than the history of an institution or movement," Gonzalez stresses. "It is a history of the deeds of the spirit in and through the men and women who have gone before in the faith." The Story of Christianity demonstrates at each point what new challenges and opportunities faced the church, and how Christians struggled with the various options open to them, thereby shaping the future direction of the church.

The Story of Christianity will serve as a fascinating introduction to the panoramic history of Christianity for students and teachers of church history, for pastors, and for general readers.

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More About Justo L. Gonzalez

Justo L. Gonzalez Justo L. González, a retired member of the Río Grande Conference of the United Methodist Church, went to college and seminary in Cuba before receiving postgraduate degrees from Yale University. He taught at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He played a key part in the founding of the Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana and of the Hispanic Summer Program. He was also the first executive director of the Hispanic Theological Initiative. Justo has published more than one hundred books, as well as hundreds of articles, and edited the journal Apuntes for twenty years.

Justo L. Gonzalez currently resides in Decatur, in the state of Georgia.

Justo L. Gonzalez has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Three Months with

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Excellent introduction to the 1st 1500 years of Church history  Mar 16, 2007
I read this book as a layman somewhat well-read in theology, but less so in church history. Given that, I thought Gonzalez' work fantastically fit the bill as an introduction to the growth of the church.

The book is logically broken down into several chronological segments, to include the apostolic church, the early post-apostolic church, the imperial church, and on into the medieval church. Within each of these blocks of time, Gonzalez covers the growth of the church, and the actions of Christians, through the major geographical centers and with respect to the major geopolitical events. For example: the early growth of the church through a somewhat ambivalent Roman empire, primarily between Jewish communities; the early martyrs as the Roman empire grew hostile; the growth of monasticism, encouraged by the imperial adoption of Christianity and the new "ease" of becoming a Christian; the various heresies that developed, and the responses of the various councils as doctrine was codified; and so forth.

The primary emphasis is on the Western church, ie, the Catholic Church in its centers of both Rome and Constantinople. A balanced coverage is given to the various theological centers, although the trend is westward as the church begins to split. Reasonable coverage is given to Eastern Orthodoxy, but the emphasis at the dawn of the second millenium is on the Roman Catholic Church, tracking both the honorable and less than honorable actions of popes, councils, and bishops leading toward the Reformation. In addition to the actions of the major portions of the visible church, due attention is given to various groups (eg, the Waldensians, the Hussites) whose thought was a precursor to, or even influenced, later groups such as the Reformers.

As I understand it, Gonzalez is a Protestant. This is probably detectable in the book, but all in all he gives a fair and balanced coverage of the various groups of the church. Mention is also made of other, perhaps lesser known, aspects of the church, to include the Persian church, the Indian church, and, briefly, the spread of Christianity to China. For significant depth in these areas, one would do well to continue on to other resources as well.

The only weak point I'll highlight is footnotes. Gonzalez' gives "Suggested Reading" lists at the end of each major section of the book, but footnotes would be a useful addition to highlight, for example, source materials for some of the more esoteric pieces of information about the early church.

As an intro to church history, this book is a "must read"!
Strong historical survey  Jan 12, 2007
This is a very accessible, readable history, but it's extremely thorough, and useful for many applications. Highly recommended.
Opening Narrative to the Story of Christianity  Dec 7, 2006
This is a summary of the first seventeen pages of The Story of Christianity, Volume 1, The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. This book was written by Justo L. Gonzalez. In the early chapters of this writing, it is clear that the author is writing in narrative form and that subsequent chapters merely build upon the earlier issues or incidences that occur as the history of the church is unfolded.
Firstly, the author asserts that Christians were first-century Jews. To describe Christianity, Gonzalez then goes on to examine the geography of its beginnings, the culture and politics of the day, and variations to the normal views. Palestine becomes a central location to many of the narratives concerning Christianity's growth. The author implies that Christianity spread because of the location of Palestine; and that because it was invaded regularly for its resources, that other nations were exposed to it. Despite the Hellenistic culture of the day, Christians would not bow to other gods that came with the culture and therefore became known to be obstinate. This seeming obstinance led to Roman authorities putting down the seemingly `Christian rebellion,' but more likely was a reaction to radical or Zealot Jews than to Jewish Christians. Within Judaism there were varying beliefs.....some conservative and others more liberal in their beliefs. Notably so, were the Pharisees, who believed in a final resurrection; as opposed to the Sadducees, who did not. In addition was a group called the Essenes, who were a sect that withdrew from the larger number of Jews and believed that the end of the world would be sooner than later. Because the Sadducees were more involved in the temple, their philosophy began to disappear with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.
Secondly, although the temple was destroyed, Christianity continued to blossom despite language barriers, counter-cultural issues, and politics. Because of new language barriers, the Hebrew Old Testament had to be translated into Greek and Aramaic. The Greek translation was known as the Septuagint, which helped spread the message to Gentiles. Some Jews fought to avert being assimilated into the Hellenistic culture, while others sought to integrate with the culture to further the recording of Jewish history. Finally, the politics of the day became troublesome for early Christians being that citizens would be required to bow to a Pantheon of gods and the Roman emperor himself. Certainly, there were advantages during the Roman rule such as protection of certain individuals under the law, the latitude that some rulers had with the law, which brought a level of `civilization' to the time. But, those same characteristics also brought abuse in some cases. That is when certain philosophical ideas would help Christians explain their faith in a climate that favored reason and logic.
This book is awesome in the way that it narrates the story of historical christianity. It makes it easy to understancd why historical personalities did what they did.
An excellent introduction  Mar 3, 2006
Recently I was asked to recommend some books for a burgeoning scholar of early Christianity and this was the first book I chose. It offers a very good introduction to the history of Western Christianity, treating most subjects well despite limited space. Still this book is not meant to be comprehensive, but instead to provide the basics of the Christian story in the West, and it does a fine job of this.
Fascinating history book  Sep 8, 2005
This book reads very easily through the history of the early church, in a balanced perspective on the changes in the church.

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