A Short History of Christianity

A Short History of Christianity is a non-fiction book on the history of the Christian religion written by the Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey. First published in 2012 by Penguin Books, it describes the history of Christianity, from its foundations to the present day. The book was shortlisted for the Australian Prime Minister's Literary Awards in 2012.[1]

The author

Geoffrey Blainey is a prolific Australian historian with an international following. Previous works include the best selling A Short History of the World. He has been honoured by Australia and received a Britannica Award for his contributions to learning.[1][2][3]

The book

A Short History of Christianity describes many of the significant figures of Christian history, from Jesus through Martin Luther, Francis Xavier and John Wesley and others; and follows Christianity's path at the "centre of world history". It also examines critics and rivals of Christianity and considers the future of Christianity.[4]

This book is not to be confused by books of the same name by Archibald G. Baker,[5] John M. Robertson,[6] or Martin E. Marty.[7]

Critical reception

In shortlisting the work for the 2012 Prime Minister's Literary Awards, the judges described Blainey as demonstrating that he was one of Australia's "finest writers", who had with "practiced thoroughness, fairness and clarity" provided a "sweeping and lucid account" of Christianity: " Neither blind disciple, nor steely-eyed sceptic, Blainey tracks 2000 years of evidence, from the life of Jesus, to the impact of Charles Darwin and beyond. It takes a writer of rare skill to traverse a passive as well as active and often violent history. He complements ecumenical accounting with intellectual curiosity to create a manual for all who seek to know as well as to believe."[1]

Dr Rachael Kohn discussed the book with Blainey in a Radio National Breakfast broadcast on Christmas morning in 2011. She described the book as a grand narrative that "walks the tightrope between the account of a ‘true believer’ and a historian who takes the view that Christianity’s remarkable achievement lies in its diversity and ability to re-invent itself".[8]

The Reverend Peter Kurti, a research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies wrote a positive review of the book, saying "Blainey's great strengths is that he is a superb story-teller and goes to great lengths to get the story right so that lay readers, particularly those with little knowledge of Christianity, can follow the thread and judge for themselves the extent of Christian influence on the world."[9]


  1. ^ a b c Prime Minister's Literary Awards - 2012 Shortlist Archived 26 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Ian Ballantine [email protected] (11 March 1930). "Past Lecture 1991". Menzieslecture.org. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  3. ^ Australian of the Year Awards Honour Roll; State Finalist Senior Australian of the Year 2010
  4. ^ A Short History of Christianity - summary contained in 2012 Penguin edition
  5. ^ Henry E. Allen (1941). "Review of A Short History of Christianity by Archibald G. Baker". Journal of Bible and Religion. JSTOR 1458858.
  6. ^ J. W. Moncrief (1903). "Review of A Short History of Christianity by John M. Robertson". The American Journal of Theology. JSTOR 3154389.
  7. ^ James Smylie (1961). "Review of A Short History of Christianity by Martin E. Marty". The Journal of Religion. JSTOR 1200976.
  8. ^ ABC Radio National Breakfast: Geoffrey Blainey: A Short History of Christianity; 25 December 2011
  9. ^ Peter Kurti (2012). "Review of A short history of Christianity by Geoffrey Blainey". Policy. Centre for Independent Studies. 28 (1): 58. ISSN 1032-6634.

External links