"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Philip Jenkins and Jesus

Philip Jenkins is a prolific fellow whose recent historical work has done much to "popularize" Christian history in general, and to bring attention to parts of the Church that both historically and currently have not always figured prominently in the Western imagination of Christianity and of Christian history. Thus his

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died

did much to make better known how far Eastern Christianity penetrated into Asia along the Silk Road as well as into Africa before it gradually began, for a variety of reasons, to contract and in many cases to be almost entirely extinguished.

Jenkins has also done important and impressive earlier work, including a book on the future of Christianity in the "global south."

Additionally, his book Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis is one of the sanest treatments of the topic I have seen, especially considering it was written by a non-Catholic. Even more impressive on that score was his excoriation of anti-Catholicism in the media and American culture at large.

Now we have another book from him with the provocative title

Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years

I look forward to seeing this reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies next year.


  1. From the point of view of a specialist in the field, Jenkins' book on 'The Lost History of Christianity' was for the most part really poorly sourced and poorly thought through... when it came out I put up a review of it on my own blog---


  2. A fascinating and convincing review! Many thanks for this.

  3. I note that Dairmaid MacCulloch, both in his book and in his TV series, took a decisive turn toward the very far east at the beginning (rather than a westward, Romeward, turn). I don't know if he was particularly convincing at this point, but it still nevertheless interesting that there is a certain amount of "revisionism" going on with regard to the narrative of Christian History in this respect.


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