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About the Author

Diarmaid MacCulloch is a Fellow of St Cross College and Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford. His many books include A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.
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Obras de Diarmaid MacCulloch

Reformation : Europe's house divided : 1490-1700 (2004) — Autor — 2,523 cópias
Thomas Cranmer: A Life (1996) 567 cópias
Silence: A Christian History (2013) 381 cópias
Tudor Rebellions (1968) — Autor — 162 cópias
A History of Christianity (Video Series) — Actor, based on the book by — 15 cópias

Associated Works

Bay Psalm Book (1640) — Introdução, algumas edições45 cópias
Calvin and His Influence, 1509-2009 (2011) — Contribuinte — 21 cópias


Conhecimento Comum



MacCulloch’s book a definite improvement em Reformation Era: History and Literature (Junho 2022)
The Spirituali and MacCulloch’s book em Reformation Era: History and Literature (Dezembro 2021)



I hugely enjoyed MacCulloch’s massive History of Christianity when I read it in 2012; this is a shorter collection of essays on different aspects of the Reformation. I found most of it very interesting, though I must admit I had not heard of Richard Hooker and am little the wiser now. But in general, it’s a set of please for English Reformation history to be understood as a specifically English historical experience, but also one that was linked to developments on the European continent and which also had reverberations in America. (I wish there had been more on Scotland and Ireland, or indeed Wales, but this is a collection of pieces mainly published elsewhere so it’s unreasonable to expect global coverage.)

MacCulloch comes back to the question of English religious texts several times, and explains why on the one hand the King James Version (and he unpacks that name) is used for most of the Anglican services, but on the other the Psalms are generally Myles Coverdale’s version. There’s also an interesting short piece on the Bay Psalm Book, the first book in English known to have been published in America (in Boston, in 1640). I like that sort of thing myself, though of course we have to be aware that we tend to focus on the artefacts that survive from history which can lead to a lack of perspective on less tangible things.
… (mais)
nwhyte | outras 2 resenhas | Jan 7, 2024 |
Christianity, one of the world's great religions, has had an incalculable impact on human history. This book describes the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organisation and spirituality, and how it has changed politics, sex, and human society.
Jonatas.Bakas | outras 37 resenhas | Nov 21, 2023 |
For most of the book, my biggest problem is one that's basically impossible to solve in something with such a sweeping objective - too much stuff passes by in a flurry of names and dates without enough detail to understand it. To be clear he does go into detail on some stuff! But I kept finding myself wanting more. And obviously that's an unreasonable ask in even a big book on the history of 2000 years.

When it gets to modern times it's more things that I have Strong Opinions on and feel a bit hmm about. He talks about the French Revolution for a couple of pages and it's just a depiction of it as a ridiculous, horrific bolt from the blue with no motivation other than murderous terror, leading to him defending the Catholic church and presenting it as the *actual* popular movement. The line "Against a French Revolution which represented more than two decades of male nationalist violence, the Church found itself managing an international uprising of women - what has been termed with a pleasing overturning of modern sociological assumptions 'ultramontane feminism'" made me put the book down - it's an erasure of women's role in the French revolution, an erasure of the entire history of male violence that's been a significant factor in the church, and an erasure of actual feminism in favour of a movement devoted to subjection to a male-only church.

The bigger issue here is that it puts his failures to cast judgement in other areas into a worse light, and the most egregious example is slavery. It becomes more and more obvious that the examples he's using are 95% the positive examples of Christian resistance to slavery while giving very limited space to the dominant Christian slavery defending and racist views. He mentions the way Noah's curse on his grandson in genesis became a tool for biblical justification of racism...but incredibly he focuses on it (apparently) having first been stated by a Jewish scholar and then follows up with reference to "scientific" racism to soften the blow. He emphasises evangelicals' role in the abolition of the slave trade, focusing inevitably on Wilberforce and insisting it was a mostly moral decision, then mentions the colonisation projects of Sierra Leone and Liberia, where a racial hierarchy was created on the basis of which Africans were sufficiently Christian, with no greater judgment that that it later caused "troubles". To a large extent I assume he thinks the bad will speak for itself, but the extent to which he minimises the culpability of Christian institutions or at least hedges it with the language of good intentions is noticeable and pretty bad. The sections on Christianisation of the Americas are also particularly bad on this - emphasising the "good" of syncretism and cooperation of native elites and the examples of those who spoke out against the genocide while barely paying attention to Christianity as justification for said genocide.

A particularly clear example: he dedicates 4 good sized paragraphs to the American Civil War. First he splits Evangelicals 3 ways - abolitionists/slavers/african americans. He describes the defence of slavery as rather bizarrely "sliding" into white supremacy and explicitly makes the point that both abolitionists and slavers were "equally angry". Then he states the outbreak of the civil war, where the "tensions exploded into fighting" and it was "ostensibly not about slavery but about individual states' rights to make decisions on slavery for themselves" without explaining further. And then we get the line "Already the rhetoric of the struggle had been cast in terms of Christian moral crusade, thanks to the barely sane actions of a fervent Calvinist from a family long committed to the abolitionist cause, John Brown."

Woah. Hang on. "Barely sane"? After a couple of paragraphs which explicitly did not include any moral condemnation of slavers and muddied the waters instead of preventing the facts which condemn them, suddenly John Brown is brought up just to attack him. The whole paragraph after I'll quote here. I may well be making too much of it! But it bothers me.

Brown came from the same generation as Joseph Smith, and he remains just as controversial a figure, though nature endowed him with more potential than Smith for looking like an Old Testament prophet Proud of a New England Puritan heritage but unusual among abolitionists in embracing violence for the cause amid the rising tide of violence in the Midwest, he reversed the dictum of the High Priest Caiaphas on the death of Jesus, proclaiming that 'it was better that a score of bad men should die than that one man who came here to make Kansas a Free State should be driven out'. Accordingly in 1856 he was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of five pro-slavery activists, but despite that hardly defensible crime, his Northern canonization as an abolitionist martyr came as a result of his seizure of an undefended Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry three years later. When the raid failed to arouse a black insurrection, Brown sat tight in the arsenal and waited to be martyred, which the Commonwealth of Virginia duly did, for the moment casting oblivion over the crazy character of his campaign. A Massachusetts newspaper editorial picked up the mood: 'no event . . . could so deepen the moral hostility of the people of the free states to slavery as this execution'.

The comparison to Smith is bizarre. He completely elides the horrific context of "Bleeding Kansas" to make it seem like Brown's words are just an absurd unprovoked piece of violence. His "campaign" was "crazy" - before this point the term crazy isn't used by him pejoratively and talk of sanity is only used of Ivan the Terrible and John of Leyden (as an aside, John of Leyden is presented as an evil figure in the 1 sentence about him, but it's unsourced and looking it up Wikipedia points out all the sources on him are by his enemies who were massacring Anabaptists. weird pattern, this). By not putting any of this into context he's made John Brown's actions inexplicable and therefore the abolitionist support of him too.

The next paragraph then completely changes tone as we go back to the slavers' perspective. Apparently "the suddenness of the change in Southern society, the freeing of four million human beings, was a deep trauma to add to the sheer destructiveness and death of the war itself," which feels a pretty gross way of talking about it. "Southerners [a term here clearly excluding Black people] took revenge on Black Christians [excluding a lot of Black people!]" "They also viewed their own plight as that of an endangered victim culture. For the prominent Southern Baptist pastor in South Carolina and Alabama E. T. Winkler, that sense justified his defence of the Ku Klux Klan to Northern Baptists in 1872 as an example of necessary 'temporary organizations for the redress of intolerable grievances'. It was unlikely that he would apply the same argument to any temporary organizations which threatened blacks might form... "The scars persist in American society to this day."

None of this is a serious handling of the American Civil War, Reconstruction or slavery in America. By not providing any context to the naive reader, focusing on the "crazy" John Brown and repeating a narrative that slaver sympathisers hold today with only mild implicit criticism - and surely accidentally but dodgily implicitly tying Black personhood to Christianity, readers will come away with a very warped view.

The problem is as I said before it's clear who's getting the benefit of the doubt. The section on Mormons incredibly avoids criticism of the church. Mormon polygamy is mentioned but it's emphasised that Brigham Young, a horrible misogynist racist, implemented polygamy "with as much public decorum as the nineteenth century would wish". The end of it is an "incursion of external liberal values" along with the allowing of Black men into the priesthood - the racist ban is not explained at all. Almost unbelievably he refers to the revoke of the ban as "allowing men of Negro descent" to become priests - I believe this is a quote but it's not in quotes. He says "Wholesome prosperity... has become a worldwide Mormon speciality". It's a bizarre whitewashing.

As it moves through the modern era you get a description of the civil war that presents the Republicans as the aggressors against the Catholic Church and describes their purported crimes against the clergy in lurid detail for several paragraphs while again giving no context of Spain's horrifically unequal society at the time. Then for "balance" he mentions that Franco set up an authoritarian secret police but with no details. The average reader is going to come away thinking the Nationalists were right.

I've put up with enough. I got about 90% in so I didn't technically finish but close enough. I'm not reading any more and can't seriously recommend it given his constant willingness to cover for the right wing established order and for Christians in general as against misleading and outright dangerous slavery apologism used to describe the people who tried to change things. Screw this.
… (mais)
tombomp | outras 37 resenhas | Oct 31, 2023 |
Very satisfying out line of Western Church history, not Orthodox, from Greek times on. Done in 1987 when a junior lecturer at Cuddeston. Intro about philosophy and Christian development and last few chapters on church problems recently very insightful. A work of description rather than commitment. Also good stuff about history, strong on philosophy.
oataker | Jun 6, 2023 |



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