The Path of Christianity

John Anthony McGuckin, one of the world’s leading scholars of ancient Christianity, has synthesized a lifetime of work to produce the most comprehensive and accessible history of the Christian movement during its first thousand years. The Path of Christianity takes readers on a journey from the period immediately after the composition of the Gospels, through the building of the earliest Christian structures in polity and doctrine, to the dawning of the medieval Christian establishment. McGuckin explores Eastern and Western developments simultaneously, covering grand intellectual movements and local affairs in both epic scope and fine detail.

The Path of Christianity is divided into two parts of twelve chapters each. Part one treats the first millennium of Christianity in linear sequence, from the second to the eleventh centuries. In addition to covering key theologians and conciliar decisions, McGuckin surveys topics like Christian persecution, early monasticism, the global scope of ancient Christianity, and the formation of Christian liturgy. Part two examines key themes and ideas, including biblical interpretation, war and violence, hymnography, the role of women, attitudes to wealth, and early Christian views about slavery and sexuality. McGuckin gives the reader a sense of the real condition of early Christian life, not simply what the literate few had to say.

Written for student and scholar alike, The Path of Christianity is a lively, readable, and masterful account of ancient Christian history, destined to be the standard for years to come.

IVP have sent a review copy which I’m very keen to read, having scanned the chapter titles just now when it arrived.

Part I: The Church’s Pilgrim’s Path
1. The Fertile Second Century
2. Blood in the Arena: The Age of Persecutions and Resistance: Second to Third Centuries
3. Coming of Age: Christianity in the Third Century
4. The Gospel on the Throne: Christians in the Fourth-Century East
5. Reconciling the World: Christian Ascetical and Penitential Imperatives
6. Remaking Society: The Church in the West in the Fourth to Sixth Centuries
7. A Church of the Nations: Ancient Global Christianity
8. The Rise of the Ecumenical Conciliar System in the Fifth to Sixth Centuries
9. The Emergence of Christian Byzantium in the Sixth to Ninth Centuries
10. The Flourishing of Medieval Rome in the Seventh to Tenth Centuries
11. The Formation of Christian Liturgy
12. The Great Parting of Ways: Greek East and Latin West in the Tenth to Eleventh Centuries

Part II: A Winding Road: Select Themes and Ideas
13. The Bible and Its Interpretation in the Early Church
14. The Church and War
15. The Development of Christian Hymnography
16. Ways of Prayer in the Early Church
17. Women in Ancient Christianity
18. Healing and Philanthropy in Early Christianity
19. The Exercise of Authority in the Church: Orders and Offices
20. Christians and Magic
21. The Church and Wealth
22. Church and Slavery in an Age of Oppression
23. Attitudes to Sexuality in the Early Church
24. A Brief Account of Ancient Christian Art

Epilogue
Appendix 1: The Seven Ecumenical Councils: A Brief Guide
Appendix 2: List of the Roman Popes to 1054 and the Patriarchs of Constantinople to 1453
Appendix 3: List of The Roman Emperors to 1453

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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