The History of Christianity

Six part docu-series airing Sundays at noon March 22 & 29, and April 5.

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A History of Christianity reveals its true origins and delves into what it means to be a Christian. Intelligent, thought-provoking and magisterial in 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 MacCulloch, who presents the development of the religion differently from any of his predecessors, argues that early Christianity stayed much closer to its Middle Eastern roots. He describes the main ideas and personalities, its organization and spirituality, as well as how it has changed politics, sex and human society. The series ranges 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 20th. One of the most widely traveled of Christian historians, MacCulloch conveys a sense of place as arrestingly as he does the power of ideas. He shows how, after a semblance of unity in its earliest centuries, the 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, Baghdad might have seemed a more likely capital for worldwide Christianity than Rome.

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

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