THE STORY OF CHRISTIANITY: 2000 Years of Faith
by Michael Collins and Matthew A. Price
(Dorling Kindersley, 2002, 250pp, $22.95. Available from AD Books)
Dorling Kindersley (DK) is perhaps of the United Kingdom's best producers of gift and educational books. Their titles are colourful with numerous illustrations and diagrams and are highly sought-after around the world. They are also reasonably priced.
To mark the jubilee, DK launched the Millennium edition of The Story of Christianity. Once again, DK have produced a wonderful, informative and up-to-date volume on the 2000 years of the Christian faith. The book is quite large, 22cm by 30cm, putting it in the so-called "coffee-table" category.
The Story of Christianity represents a collaboration between Catholic and Protestant authors, presenting the history of the Christian Church on that basis; but teachers, catechists and readers of history will not want to put it down.
The book begins with the roots of Christianity, examining the period leading up to the birth of Christ from the Old Testament, the period between the Old and New Testaments and stories such as Judith and Holofernes. The life and death of Jesus Christ, followed by the emergence of the Church are then outlined.
A valuable feature are the short biographies found in the book's margins, along with glossaries. As an example, when looking at the early Church, the Didache is mentioned in the margins. (The Didache was an early Christian manual for the instruction of converts).
The Reformation, which is explored with sensitivity and insight, is followed by coverage of the Renaissance. On page 127, there is a full reproduction of Michelangelo's Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, usually only found in expensive art books. In fact, this is an especially appealing aspect of The Story of Christianity, since there are on every page at least two illustrations.
The numerous thought provoking quotes sprinkled throughout the book are an added attractive feature.
The Christian faith, with one third of the world's population as believers, is as significant - and needed - as ever in its history. Such is the scope of this book, that in spending time learning about or rediscovering its rich history, the Christian reader might become more bold in proclaiming its rightful place in modern society.
Anthony Cappello is National Secretary of the Thomas More Centre.