Historian Philip Jenkins explores Christianity's lost age, land





Christianity is often viewed as a Western faith which used Europe as its springboard for global expansion.

But historian Philip Jenkins argues in a new book that this narrative neglects the faith's first 1,000 years when Christianity set down firm roots in Asia and Africa - roots that flourished into huge churches but were pruned, withered and died.

"We can't understand Christian history without Asia - or, indeed, Asian history without Christianity," Jenkins writes in 'The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia - and How It Died.'

He notes that churches were operating in Sri Lanka before England had its first archbishop of Canterbury and that Nestorian Christian branches were well established across Asia long before Poland became Catholic.

Jenkins attributes the decline of these ancient churches to a number of factors including the rise of Islam and climate change which stoked social tensions -- connecting distant dots in a thought-provoking manner that is sure to stir debate.

One result is that the Christian church in the Middle East, the land of its birth, has shrunk to the point that Jenkins says in a "geographical sense. Christianity has no heart, no natural core."


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Randll Reese Besch - 12/3/2008

Christianity is an eastern religion, it just is treated as a western one because it exists and was carried westward around the globe.

Should be an interesting book.