Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Virginia Festival of the Book: Christianity

Historian Robert Louis Wilken gave a presentation about his most recent book, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity, at the 2013 Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville on March 22.

The book festival's web site offers this biographical note on Wilken:
Robert Wilken, author of The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity Emeritus. He taught at UVa from 1985 to 2009 and is the author of many books, including The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, The Land Called Holy: Palestine in Christian History and Thought, and The Spirit of Early Christian Thought. He is also the editor of The Church's Bible, a series of commentaries based on writings of the church fathers.
Speaking to a packed auditorium in the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections on the grounds of the University of Virginia, Wilken gave an engaging and entertaining lecture that spanned topics from apostolic succession to Christianity's intellectual confrontation with Islam to the necessity of bishops for the survival of the church (taking a dig at Garry Wills for asking "Why priests?" in a book of that name).

Wilken explained that he wanted the book to include a full range of the Christian communities from the first 1,000 years of the church, including the Syriac churches of the Middle East, the Greek churches that expanded into Slavic lands, and the Latin church based in Rome, with stops along the way among the Coptic churches of Egypt and Christian churches farther south in Nubia (Sudan) and Ethiopia. He said that he wanted to keep the chapters short for readability's sake and, for the same reason, decided not to include footnotes. The book, he noted, is meant for general audiences, not academic readers.

A video of Wilken's complete remarks, including a question-and-answer session with the audience, is here:
The program on "Christianity: The First Thousand Years" was hosted by the St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, and the Center for Christian Study.

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