Sincerae Smith's Reviews > The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia—and How It Died

The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Aug 11, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: christianity, christian-history
Read from October 02, 2011 to March 09, 2014

I really enjoyed this history and learned so much. The Lost History of Christianity is an excellent introduction to an obscure subject which the church in America never touches on. The author Philip Jenkins says that much of the information presented in this work is little known except by a few scholars.

This book eradicates the often held belief that Christianity is a Western religion. In fact Christianity was well matured in the Middle East, North Africa, and East Africa (Nubia and Ethiopia) before it became widely accepted in Western Europe. Jenkins writes about a forgotten and vibrant Christianity which stretched in Asia from Mesopotamia to Persia on to China to Central Asia and south into India. Once Christianity was established as far east as Japan. However, missionary work to Japan came much later than it had to the people of Africa and West Asia. Syriacs (Assyrian people) in places like Iraq and what is now eastern Turkey also played a huge role in the intellectual development of the faith. In fact Jenkins says Muslims co-opted into their religion the drive for learnedness from Syriac Christians. Many of the early translators of works from the ancient Greek classical world were Syriacs who worked for Muslim rulers.

Jenkins tells many stories of the long forgotten religious centers and greats of the eastern church. I was surprised to learn that the Christians of India were not converted by the British but had come to Christ centuries before British colonialism. Indian Christians believe the Gospel was brought to them by the Apostle Thomas.

Jenkins does not bash Islam, but he does tell how the religion hasten the decline of Christianity in parts of Africa and the Middle East and periodically brought brutal persecution. Some churches held on a long time and slowly died under Islam, but the light of the churches in Libya and Tunisia were extinguished almost overnight. Despite the death of these churches to the west, the Egyptian Coptics somehow continued to hold on until this very day.

This books' subject has really piqued my interest, and I plan to read more on the subject. I have long wondered why America Christians show little interest in learning about the Eastern roots of Christianity. We're often completely ignorant of followers of the faith in the Middle East, and the media is often silent about the flight of Christians from places like Iraq and Syria in recent years. Perhaps one reason for this is there is a centuries old bias that the West has long had against the Eastern church. The Western church felt the Nestorian and Jacobite Christians of the Middle East and Asia were heretics. The Middle East and Africa sprouted the original roots of Christianity not just the West in places like Greece and Rome because of the journeys of missionaries and martyrs of the faith like the Apostles Paul and Peter. The missionaries who traveled East with Christ's Great Commission and the churches they established and others that grew from the original Middle Eastern and African congregations deserve to be mentioned. Instead with American Christians, especially Protestants, the sole focus is on the history of the Western European church and Israel. More American Christians need to read this book, and maybe then will more compassion and concern for our brethren in the East may develop.

Philips Jenkins presents very important history and poses very important questions in this book.
3 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Lost History of Christianity.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/01/2014 marked as: currently-reading
03/09/2014 marked as: read
06/30/2015 marked as: to-read
06/30/2015 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Rowena (new) - added it

Rowena This sounds great! I know you often tweet about Christians in the Middle East and Northern Africa and I appreciate that because their stories need telling.

Sincerae Smith Yes, it was a very eye opening book, an excellent introduction on the topic. I plan to read both volumes of this book because of it:

I follow a few Middle Eastern Christians on Twitter and they follow me back. I'll be back on Twitter in a few weeks. I'm working on opening an ecommerce business which is an extension of a decorative pillow business my parents turned over to me which they started in late 2013. I'm trying to minimize distractions and get away from some of the insanity on there. :)

message 3: by Rowena (new) - added it

Rowena Oh wow, all the best to you!And yes, I would stay away from Twitter for a while, especially since American Independence is coming up soon. I'll be taking a little break from there too:)

message 4: by Steve (new)

Steve I read this a while back. Great book. Jenkins is a good writer. Great review!

Sincerae Smith Thank you! My parents proposed when I was Turkey that I take it over since they don't have internet savvy and dad didn't want the hassle of doing shipping. They were just selling them locally and partnered with a couple of ladies who had their own antique and vintage goods businesses. The pillows are made by hand by my parents. In the last few years I've developed an interest in business, so when they suggested I take things over I was eager to do it. I also love the pocket. I don't plan to teach anymore except for substitute teaching for some pocket once school opens in August. In the last couple of weeks I've learned so many interesting things about ecommerce which I had absolutely no idea of. :)

Sincerae Smith To Steve: Yes, he is a good writer. I hope to read more of his books.

back to top