Description: Christianity is the world’s most populous religion, with some two billion adherents. As a world religion, Christianity has flourished because it is capable of taking on new forms in new contexts. To understand both the religion’s history and its present state, Mary Gerhart and Fabian Udoh gather original texts—from early Christian writings to contemporary documents on church-related issues—in The Christianity Reader. The most comprehensive anthology of Christian texts ever in English, this is a landmark sourcebook for the study of Christianity’s historical diversity. With newly edited, annotated, and translated primary texts, along with supplemental analytical essays, the volume allows Christianity, at long last, to speak in its many voices.
Focusing on Christianity as a religion, Gerhart and Udoh select texts that illuminate issues such as theology, mysticism, and ritual, while also articulating the stories of previously marginalized groups, as well as those in new and growing epicenters of the religion. With nearly three hundred selections, the texts encompass the entire history of Christian writings excluding the New Testament, from Justin Martyr and Tertullian to Fabien Eboussi Boulaga and Teresa of Calcutta. Eight thematic sections cover biblical traditions and interpretations; early influences; nascent forms; patterns of worship; structures of community; philosophy, theology, and mysticism; twentieth-century issues and challenges; and the contemporary relationship between Christianity and other world religions. The Reader’s contents are arranged chronologically and are supported with introductions and source notes that explain the rationale for their inclusion and their context.
Providing a far richer selection than ever before available in a single volume, The Christianity Reader will be welcomed as both a classroom resource and a work of reference for decades to come.
Subjects: Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Early Church Origins, History of Interpretation
Review by Mark Reasoner
Citation: Mark Reasoner, review of Mary Gerhart and Fabian E. Udoh, eds., The Christianity Reader, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2008).
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