Martin Marty has written a number of seminal works on religion, and has received some seventy-five honorary doctorates. His awards include the National Book Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Chicago with his wife.
This is the sort of large-scale, global history that is not often pursued by academics anymore, for fear of oversimplifying narratives that fail to attend to local detail. This is a vitally important book: Christianity has never been a more global religion than it is today, yet here we can see how global it has always been. Before Marty, dean of American church historians, even turns his attention to European Christianity he spends long chapters on Asian and African episodes. The book concludes with second African and Asian episodes, suggesting the faith's future lies on those continents: "The European presence wanes and the promise of Christianity elsewhere rises," he writes. Few scholars other than Marty would have dared write a book such as this, with details on figures as diverse as Bar-Daisan in ancient Syria and present-day Pentecostal evangelists in Africa. Historians and theologians will naturally quibble over points of detail, which may not always be up-to-date on current scholarship. Yet Marty writes with whimsical accessibility, the passion of a believer and the critical eye of a hard-nosed skeptic. This is a book that offers a tentative yes to the ancient question of Jesus, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Jan. 15) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"A whirlwind tour of the history of Christianity . . . [Martin]
Marty draws on his deep historical knowledge, and the quirky
details he inserts paint a lively picture of Christianity's
-The Christian Science Monitor
"Only Martin Marty, with his extraordinary range of historical understanding, could have written this masterful account of the Christian world."
-Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels
"A vitally important book: Christianity has never been a more global religion than it is today, yet here we can see how global it has always been. . . . Marty writes with whimsical accessibility, the passion of a believer and the critical eye of a hard-nosed skeptic."
"An effective combination of erudition and accessibility."
"A real achievement . . . a rich, multilayered narrative."
-The Globe and Mail
Few scholars today could have attempted what Marty has done here; few combine Marty's broad scholarship and long experience with his accessible style: Swiss Roman Catholic theologian Hans King is Marty's match and more in intellectual reach, but he is too dense a writer for general readership; Paul Johnson's History of Christianity is comparable but tendentious and now dated. Marty's Christian World attempts, in fewer than 250 pages, to offer a worldwide history of Christianity from its beginnings to the present day, not overlooking, as many do, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. As a beginner's introduction, it can hardly be bettered, although some will feel the abbreviated discussion of theological change and cultural influence. Readers of a scholarly bent will grieve the lack of footnotes and a bibliography, but Marty's work will serve many church groups and classrooms well. Highly recommended.--Graham Christian, formerly with Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.