The History of Christianity: Diarmaid MacCulloch

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In the beginning there was the word. As the gospel of John says, "the word was God, and became human flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth."

Those words about the word begin chapter one of Diarmaid MacCulloch's exhaustive new history of Christianity. It is called "Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years". At just over a thousand pages, it is an epic worthy of Cecil B. DeMille, who was known to tackle a bible story or two. But this version is actually true, or as true as any historian could make a story that is over two millennia old.

It is a remarkable journey, how this "eccentric little Jewish sect" became the guiding faith of over 2 billion people, the world's largest religion.

And a particularly appropriate story to revisit the day after Christmas, particularly when it comes to the man whose birth and death inspired the first believers and whose descendents still hold to the redemptive power of their relationship with Jesus Christ. As the author himself writes, this book is for them.

Diarmaid MacCulloch is professor of history of the Church at Oxford University and the multiple award-winning author of two other books, "The Reformation" and "Thomas Cranmer."

"Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years" recently won the 2010 Cundhill Prize in History at McGill University, the biggest non-fiction history prize in the world.

Professor MacCulloch was in the BBC studio in Summertown, near Oxford, England.

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