Matters of Belief: Diarmaid MacCulloch (1)

July 5, 2010

I’ve started reading Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (New York: Viking Penguin, 2010).  Since it is over 1000 pages, I imagine I’ll be at it, off and on, all summer.

The point of the subtitle is that he wants to consider Greek and Jewish antecedents to Christianity, to understand it better.

I’m struck by this passage in the Introduction (p 4) regarding intolerance:  “For most of its existence, Christianity has been the most intolerant of world faiths, doing its best to eliminate all competitors, with Judaism a qualified exception (thanks to some thoughts from Augustine of Hippo) it found space to serve its own theological and social purposes.”

And then a short whole later (p 5) he promises to “examine the role of nineteenth and twentiethy-century European Christian empires in creating a reaction of fundamentalist intolerance within other modern world faiths, principally Islam, Judaism and Hinduism.

Ouch:  quite a broad brush picture of the origin of contemporary world ailments.


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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