Christians themselves practiced their religion with great diversity, linked as much to local influences as theology. Political intrigue, theological beliefs, and simple misunderstandings created a need for dialogue between the many practitioners of the growing faith.
Christianity's adoption as the official faith of the Roman state tied it inexorably to the fortunes of the Empire. This also helped to create a gulf between the two main theological branches of the religion, which remain to this day.
©2005 Thomas F. Madden; (P)2005 Recorded Books
Initially I just dipped into this audiobook when I'd
finished others and was waiting for the next
download, but then I got hooked. The lecturer has a
rather hesitant style at first, probably because
it's quite difficult giving a lecture without faces
in front of you, but he does pick up.
The history covers from the time of the apostles up
to the seventh century when much of the Eastern
Roman empire fell. It talks about the organisation
of the church, why the church relied on apostolic
succession (to ensure continuity of the message),
the disputes about the nature of Jesus and the
rivalry of the various patriarchies.
There were a couple of points where I felt I wanted
more information. In an early lecture he refers to
which apostles were known to have gone to particular
places and which are later legends, but doesn't go
into the sources of the information.
In a much later lecture he touches on the Celtic
church, referring to it having been in Ireland and I
think mentions Scotland, but then moves immediately
to St Augustine's mission to Canterbury. There's no
suggestion that the Celtic church was not only well
established in the north of Britain, including
Northumbria, but was also sending missions out to
Europe. In fact when he refers to the Germanic
tribes as receiving missionaries he only talks of
those who came from Byzantium. I would have liked to
have known how influential the Celtic church was in
those missions as my understanding had been that a
lot of settlements in Germany and Switzerland owe
their names to Celtic saints.
Those are only minor quibbles and this is well worth
I have to disagree with the other review as I find TF Madden speach and ways most off-putting: his tone of voice was monotonous and lifeless as if he was really very tired and bored with the things he was saying, he speaks very slowly and with lost of 'ummmm' and 'ahhh' which meant that it took him for ever to finish a line of thought or story. As a result my attention wondered away constantly and it was a real effort not to get distracted. All in all a very dull experience.
I would enjoy listening to this again because I found some of the information very valuable and I want to make sure I retain it. Thomas Madden was able to set the context whilst telling the tale and that was what made it so fascinating for me.
There were some top moments but I think overall the atmosphere he created around the tale of the early Church, it's success being very much a product of the existence of the Roman empire and the inexplicable conversion of Constantine. I realised it must have been very difficult for the Roman emporer. I think realising that obviously God's providence was evident in the success of Christianity was stimulating.
I like Thomas Madden's style. I am looking forward to listening to more of his lectures.
"Excellent Introduction to History of Christianity"
If you are looking for a historical introduction to how Christianity began and spread, this is a great place to start ! The content is solid ! After listening to this book you will be able to understand and explain how Christianity spread after the death of Christ and the early establishment of the Church.
"A good lecture"
This is the first set of lectures by Professor Thomas Madden on the Church History. The lecture starts with the time of Jesus Christ to the Chaucedon and Nestorian expulsion. Madden's lectures are generally consistant in quality and I enjoy them, but for people prefer humourous lecturing styles, some may find him monotonous.
"Review of all the Reviews...and the Lecture"
Before I purchased this lecture I read all the reviews to make sure it was worth my time and money. I was confused when I saw about 60% positive at 5 stars and then 40% at 1 star. How could such a lecture be so great, and so terrible?! I tried to take into account each persons review but in the end I still had to make the decision based on the reviews. Since this was my first Modern Scholar lecture I figured I should give the positives the benefit of the doubt. Boy am I glad I did! I was looking for something the gave a brief outline, with some half decent detail, to the early church. This course hit that head on. I now have a general understanding of the major themes and situations and can choose which one(s) I want to learn more about and which I'm not so interested in.
I'm a little disappointed with the negative reviews, especially with such low ratings as 1 star. I'd like to counter each of those negative reviews with my personal thoughts:
1.) "Boring and Superficial". What are you expecting, a sermon? This is a lecture class, not a church setting. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Christian, and there is a good place for a sermon, and much of this information could and should be used in sermons, but this is not a sermon. This is a history lecture, and for that, I give it 5 stars. If you are interested enough in a topic the lecture does not need to be energetic and zesty, you will get what you want out of it.
2.) "Boring even to the presenter". Very similar response to #1, not sure what exactly you are looking for?
3.) "Disappointing". I agree that this course is just a "primer", but how much can you really get into in only 7 hours of audio? This course gives a great overview of the major themes and was great for someone looking at such a broad topic as the title shares.
4.) "Zzzzzzzzzzz". Not much of a review, maybe you were tired, get some sleep.
5.) "Doesn't sound very scholarly". This was the only review that I found was slightly correct in it's analysis. However, this review would only possibly be for the first 3-4 lectures. I agree there was a slight bit of jumping around from topic to topic, for this I would rate it 3.5 stars, but even then, not as terrible as you make it. As for his Bible content, again, this is not a sermon. He uses the Bible for it's history, not it's spirituality. This is fine to do for a history lecture. There's a place for each.
Overall I would give this 4.5 stars. I'm going to listen to a few more modern scholars and then perhaps I can have a view of some others to compare it to, but stand alone I thought it was a great overview of what the title promised.
I have now bought 5 or 6 of Professor Madden's lecture series. The professor is especially talented in making complex subjects easy to understand. I now understand the history of the Church much better than ever, despite having read a number of books on the subject. As others have pointed out, he's not the smoothest speaker, but the content itself is very interesting and entertaining.
If you looking for people who want to try to twist history into sensationalist claims then I guess Dr. Madden won't be for you. You won't get the recently popular nonsense about how Mary Magdalene had Jesus's baby on the coast of France or whatever. If missing out on that means it will be boring to you, then this will be boring.
But he gives allot of the information regarding early church history and doesn't have an axe to grind. With him it seems facts first and then theories. The theories may not be as spectacular but they also aren???t horribly misinformed. And I will say even the seemingly less sensational theories that spring up from listening to his lectures have always given me allot to think about.
As far as his tone of voice and that sort of thing, I had no problem with it. But then again I find the material interesting.
"Agree this is very boring and superficial"
I agree with the previous reviewer (Doug). The content is superficial, good for only those who have never read any religious studies ( in which case, you would not start with this anyway). I totally agree with his criticism of the "Professor" - he exudes boredom. He scans dates and people and events in a "bare bones" dry and tedious presentation, adding nothing of color or background to help the listener connect or understand people who lived 2000 years ago.
Download and scan the accompanying study guide - you can finish this in an hour, thereby saving the other 7 hours and one credit
"Boring, even to the presenter"
Remember the worst lecture class you had in college or the most boring speech you ever heard? This audio is so bad that even the presenter/lecturer seems bored and distracted.
The content is pretty superficial. But you may not notice that because you will not listen more than half an hour.
I love religious studies, especially the New Testament. It amazes me that this professor could ruin what should have been an exciting audio.
"Very informative. Great job with this."
I am learning so much. Very informative and just the facts. No religion, not that I am not a fan of Christian books, but this is just the history. This guy Tom Madden is amazing.
"perfect a great overview Professor Madden is geat
it goes quickly it's an excellent overview the professor really digs down and make some really clear that Christianity didn't cause the collapse of the Roman Empire
"conflict between early Christian segments"
after listening to the history of Rome podcast I was looking for a history of the conflict between different segments of early christians. this did touch on the at little, but not as much as I had hoped.
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