Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years DVD series

AM9910_HOC_3D A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years DVD series
With Diarmaid MacColloch
Ambrose Video Publishing

About the series

A History of Christianity, a six-part series presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch, an Oxford history professor whose books about Cranmer and the Reformation have been acclaimed as masterpieces. A History Of Christianity will reveal the true origins of Christianity and delve into what it means to be a Christian. Intelligent, thought-provoking and magisterial in its scope the series will uncover how a small Jewish sect that preached humility became the biggest religion in the world. Most Christian histories start with St Paul's mission to Rome, but Diarmaid MacCulloch argues that the first Christianity stayed much closer to its Middle-Eastern roots. He describes not only the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organization and spirituality, but how it has changed politics, sex, and human society.

The series includes subjects from Palestine in the first century to India in the third, from Damascus to China in the seventh century and from San Francisco to Korea in the twentieth. MacCulloch is one of the most widely travelled of Christian historians and conveys a sense of place as arrestingly as he does the power of ideas. He presents the development of Christian history differently from any of his predecessors. He shows how, after a semblance of unity in its earliest centuries, the Christian church divided during the next 1400 years into three increasingly distanced parts, of which the western Church was by no means always the most important: he observes that at the end of the first eight centuries of Christian history, Baghdad might have seemed a more likely capital for worldwide Christianity than Rome. This is the first truly global history of Christianity.

Diarmaid MacCulloch is one of the world's leading historians and Professor of History of the Church and Fellow at St. Cross College Oxford. A History of Christianity is a BBC co-production with the Open University and Jerusalem Productions

My Thoughts

I have mixed feeling about the DVD that we watched. Part of it is quite interesting and is thought provoking. However, at the same time, I would probably research the information given during the session just to make sure it is reliable information. During the first episode you will cover the First Christianity and you will go through history on a fast pace to follow how Christianity grew so fast. At the same time you will learn that after a conflict on whether or not Jesus was divine and human the church split in two creating the Western church which is based on philosophy and theology as well as the Eastern Church which possess a strong theology with the expression of art and symbolism.

However, the live talking was not at the same volume as the narration and hard to listen when there was noise around the speaker. The quality of the sound was a bit horrible and when the music would come in while narration was done it would take over the text. It was a bit disappointing also that at times I had trouble hearing what Diarmaid MacColloch was saying as he wasn’t speaking quite clearly for my taste. It is quite disappointing that there was no subtitles in English as it would have helped to follow the information given during the episode.

At one point, he mentions that Christianity has a personality cult and this particular sentence bothered me somewhat. God is central of the Christian faith and I don’t find it a personality cult whatsoever.

Be aware that after digging a bit on the internet about the presenter of the series, I stumble on the Wikipedia information on him. And here’s what I have found:

He joined the Gay Christian Movement in 1976, serving twice on its committee and briefly as honorary secretary. Regarding the clash between his sexuality and the Church and his own retreat from religious orthodoxy he said:

"I was ordained Deacon. But, being a gay man, it was just impossible to proceed further, within the conditions of the Anglican set-up, because I was determined that I would make no bones about who I was; I was brought up to be truthful, and truth has always mattered to me. The Church couldn't cope and so we parted company. It was a miserable experience."[1]

See here for more information about it.

In conclusion, I am questioning the information given in this series for various reasons. As I said, I would be the kind of person to dig and try to find if it is true or not. I do not think I would recommend this series to my friends and readers. I would strongly suggest that you try to look for something similar that can be verified.

This review was possible because I received a free copy of the first DVD of A History of Christianity from the B&B Media Group.

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years is available everywhere.

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