Notable and Quotable (I)

It would be very surprising if this religion, so youthful, yet so varied in its historical experience, has now revealed all its secrets.

–Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (Viking, 2010)


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History

3 comments on “Notable and Quotable (I)

  1. Stefano says:

    Oh, thanks a lot Dr Harmon! I’m only halfway through this book and you try and spoil it by revealing the last line!

    It has been a tough book to read but intriguing none the less. MacCulloch has a style that is often dense and tangential as he tells a rather complex story. One of the Professors at Nashotah recommended that I finish it and also generously recommended a couple others to balance out my reading including “A History of the Christian Church” by Williston Walker.(note to self: Stop asking theologians to recommend books. ) I’d love to be able to discuss this book with others who’ve read it but so far everyone just shakes their head and walks away muttering…

  2. Kendall Harmon says:

    Sorry, Stefano–it is interesting that toward the end he hits such a hopeful note.

  3. pastorchuckie says:

    I enjoyed MacCullough’s book on the Reformation, but found it heavy on the editorializing. Especially in his treatment of marriage and divorce, I think he knowingly provided thematic material for what has become one of the Presiding Bishop’s favorite tunes: “The Church has never in 2,000 years really ever known what marriage is.”

    John Meacham’s NY Times review of this new book (posted elsewhere on T19 today) alludes to “Paul’s explicit support for slavery.” Whether that’s Meacham’s own interpretation, or his restatement of what MacCullough wrote, I can’t tell. Either way, it’s a departure from what both seem to have been saying about the “mysterious” element of Christianity. What Paul wrote about slavery is much more ambiguous than “explicit support,” and most of what we might say about Paul on slavery, looking back as 21st century people, is anachronistic.

    One of my best teachers used to say, “If it’s not in the Fathers, it’s not in the Bible.” The Church Fathers– depending on whom you count among the Fathers– are pretty ambiguous on the subject of slavery, too. MacCullough is pretty thorough, so I’d be curious about how he deals with patristic authors.

    Until now I hadn’t known about this most recent book. I’m prepared to learn a lot from it, but to take it with big grains of salt.


    Chuck Bradshaw
    Hulls Cove, Maine