Unique book on global Christianity from ancient beginnings to current times
A new book is on the market that tracks the history of Christianity from a global perspective—a diversion from the normal coverage of the faith as primarily a Western phenomenon.
The book, Christianity: The Illustrated Guide to 2,000 Years of the Christian Faith, goes further back in time covering the little-known Nestorian Christians up to current Christian phenomena including the Evangelical movement, the First Vatican Council and televangelism, among others, according to its website.
Christianity: The Illustrated Guide is published by Millennium House and authored by various religious experts. Its chief consultant is Prof. Ann Marie Bahr, Department of Philosophy and Religion, South Dakota State University, Newswise said.
The book is an illustrated guide to 2,000 years of history in Christianity, featuring miracles, martyrs, major figures, ideas, faith, events, literature, music, feasts, festivals and mysteries, according to the website.
The book also has superb illustrations including art, architecture, and detailed maps. There are also special features on prayer, church music, Christian tradition, Christian experience and the bible, the website said.
Bahr, who was with the Religion in the Schools Task Force of the American Academy of Religion until 2008, told Newswise the reference book is the first of its kind with its comprehensive coverage. “Millennium House came to me with the idea of doing a high-quality illustrated reference work for libraries on Christianity,” she said.
However, she felt the original book outline focused too much on Christianity from the western historical viewpoint, and suggested that it instead provides a global history of faith, “something that would show how Christianity came to different parts of the world, and when, and how it developed there, and what the status is of Christianity in all parts of the world now,” Bahr told Newswise.
Noting that academics today are more interested in a global picture of Christian history, Bahr told Newswise, “[A]s far as I know, this is the first reference book to use this approach anywhere in the world to telling the history of Christianity.”
Because of this, readers see beyond the misconception that the Christian faith is only a phenomenon of the West. Bahr told Newswise, “It was definitely an attempt to break down this monolithic sense of what the history of Christianity has been and to incorporate the different perspectives of Christians around the world. The story of Christianity cannot be told from a single geographic vantage point.”
Bahr told Newswise that Christianity reached China earlier than what is commonly known through the efforts of the Nestorian Christians, among the earliest and lesser-known missionaries who no longer are in existence today.
Bahr said to Newswise, “Christianity went east before it went west, to a great extent. It’s very relevant to us today because it was along that route that they first met, for example, with Buddhists.”
Noting that religions play a major role in shaping society, Bahr said understanding faith is a major task for 21st century globalism. She told Newswise, “[W]hat we will be in the future really depends upon whether these traditions can talk to each other, both internally — their differences within each tradition — and externally — the differences between them.”
According to the website, the reference book includes writings on the more recent developments of Christianity including the Evangelicals, radical Christianity, the First Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility, the spread of the others.