The insight that the Church is not just the movement from the creeds up into Europe and into England and then across to the USA and then, through missions, to Africa and the Far East and South America, is on old one. Getting Church history textbooks to catch up on this insight has not been easy. Until Martin Marty’s new book The Christian World. On the plane flight home from S. Africa I decided to work my way through Marty’s new book — and it was a 27 hour adventure from the time we took off in Johannesburg until we got home here in the village of Libertyville. Marty was my companion.
Marty is a consummate church historian; the mainline leading voice in the USA for nearly five decades. What Marty is noted for is the capacity to take huge swaths of years and large issues and distill them to clear and concise prose. So, what one gets from Marty is a sketch — and this is what he does in this volume.
What is most notable here is the chp titles: Jewish beginnings, first Asian episode, first African episode, first European episode, second European, first Latin American episode, North American episode, second African and second Asian … you see the point. He’s not just sketching the usual but sampling what has taken place in the last 2000 years throughout the whole world.
No footnotes; no bibliography; a textbook kind of book for those who’d like to see the big picture.
I will say this: at times he gets in all the information, but just barely. He can cover five major issues in one short paragraph … but that is what a sketch like this provides. It will be up to teachers to supplement a book like this or up to the reader to chase down some rabbits he flushes from the bushes.