Reviews on Resources for Biblical and Theological Studies

Irvin, History of the World Christian Movement. Volume I and II (2012)

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Mar• 25•13

Irvin, Dale T., and Scott Sunquist. History of the World Christian Movement. Volume II. Modern Christianity from 1454-1800. Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books, 2012. pages: xv+503. ISBN: 978-1-57075-989-5.

Irvin, Dale T., and Scott Sunquist. History of the World Christian Movement. Volume I. Earliest Christianity to 1453. Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books, 2010. pages: xvi+519. ISBN: 978-1-57075-396-1.

These books are part of a three volume project. The third one is in the offing.  Volume I which traces the history of Christianity from its origins to 1453 AD. The year 1454 has been a watershed in the history of Christianity. The second volume picks up the story from that point and takes us to 1800. The authors frankly admit that the reason for stopping at 1800 is simply that the story so far told in great details made it too long and the two ceHistory of World Christian Movementnturies to follow (19th and 20th) will need another volume for themselves. So, this means that we have the story of Christianity of 400 years in a volume that has taken 474 pages excluding indices and Introduction.

Volume I is presented in six parts covering the period from the beginnings to the emergence of the Christian movement  in the East around 1453 AD.

These volumes differ from other histories of Christianity written by European/American scholars in intentionally trying to be less Eurocentric. It tells the story of Christianity in Asia, Africa, Europe and America which had become a world religion by 1500 AD. The project is born out of a decade of research and many consultations held over this period. The outcome of the decade-long research and consultations is a work that is extensive, highly enjoyable reading packed with facts in great details. It is not the story of the Western missions but the struggles and achievements of the people in their own turfs.

The second volume is organized into three parts: Part I. 1454 – 1600 AD; Part II. The Seventeenth Century and Part III. The Eighteenth Century. In telling a non-Eurocentric story of the growth of Christianity world-wide, it tells us how Christianity re-entered Africa and encountered an ancient Christianity in India and so on! Every significant cultural and political developments that happened in Europe that has bearing upon world Christianity has been analysed.

A highly readable, user-friendly scholarly work of great depth and insight. Dale T. Irvin is professor of world Christianity and President of New York Theological Seminary while Scott W. Sunquist is Dean of School of Intercultural Studies at the Fuller Theological Seminary.

Engelbrecht. CHURCH FROM AGE TO AGE, (2011)

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Feb• 02•13

Engelbrecht, Edward A (Ed.). The Church from Age to Age. A History. From Galilee to Global Christianity. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011. Pages lviii, 976. ISBN: 9780758626462

Church from Age to Age

This book on the history of the Christian Church is a collection of contributions from a number of authors with an introduction by famous historian Paul L. Maier.

This spans the history of the Christian Church beginning with Jesus and Apostles to the modern era, practically to 2011! The book draws its contents from portions from the CHURCH HISTORY SERIES of the Concordia Publishing House. However, all these thoroughly revised in the light of the reviews of the individual books in the series published in various academic journals and brought up-to-date.

The authors are academics and history professors from the non-catholic traditions; so one gets a Protestant perspective of the history and more than that a treatment which focusses on the non-catholic mission and history. Going through the list of authors one is convinced that this is also an American perspective of history as practically all of them are located in the academies of North America.

One is impressed by comprehensiveness and the evident neutrality in the selection of the themes, persons and topics that are presented in the book. This doesn’t mean that the authors are neutral in their presentation (pure objectivity is a mirage!) but the editors have made sure that all that has happened and are significant for our understanding of the the Christian Church is included in this volume. So, we will find the Popes and Patriarchs as well as Pat Robertson and Paul Yongi Cho! It is so vast and comprehensive that it begins with pre-Christian origins in Galilee and so contemporary to include the Arab Spring!

It has a detailed 27 page time-line of the major events that shaped the Church and the world that the Church is called to witness. There are sixteen maps that reflect modern scholarship and cartography. The four appendices add further value to the volume: ‘Popes and Rival Popes’, ‘Major Councils’, ‘Bishops, Archbishops and Patriarchs of Constantinople’, and ‘Assemblies of the World Council of Churches’. A bibliography divided according to the various periods of Christian history is an added boon to students and teachers alike!

The size of the volume is intimidating (976 pages) but it is justified by what Paul L. Maier says in the ‘Foreword’: ‘… this is a large book because it has a huge story to tell.’ If there is any book recently published that I would recommend confidently on the history of Christianity it will be this: A comprehensive one-volume, text-book. My hope is that the publishers will come up with updates of this volume at least every five year.