Sincerae'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
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's review
Mar 10, 14

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 develop.

Philips Jenkins presents very important history and poses very important questions in this book.

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Reading Progress

02/01/2014 marked as: currently-reading
03/09/2014 marked as: read

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