A History of Christianity

The First Three Thousand Years

Diarmaid MacCulloch

Introduced by Neil MacGregor

A beautiful three-volume Folio edition of Diarmaid MacCulloch’s epic history of Christianity – a landmark of scholarship presented with superb colour images and an exclusive new introduction from historian Neil MacGregor


A History of Christianity

‘I hope that this book will help readers stand back from Christianity, whether they love it or hate it, or are simply curious about it, and see it in the round.’

  1. Neil MacGregor, from his introduction

How did an obscure sect in first-century Palestine flower into the religion of a third of the world? In a work of astonishing scope, Diarmaid MacCulloch begins the story 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. His acclaimed, commanding history takes in apostles and martyrs, lost kingdoms and empires, crusades and liberation struggles, the architecture of soaring Gothic cathedrals and the genesis of the greatest works of sacred art and music.

This superb three-volume Folio edition features an entirely new introduction by historian Neil MacGregor, bestselling author of A History of the World in 100 Objects, and each volume includes 32 pages of stunning colour images. The bindings and slipcase are adorned with exquisite designs by typographer Jamie Clarke, depicting three crosses from different ages of Christianity.  

Production Details

Three volume set

Bound in cloth blocked with designs by Jamie Clarke

Set in Minion

Vol 1: 408 pages, Vol 2: 536 pages, Vol 3: 576 pages

32 pages of colour illustrations per volume

25 integrated black & white maps across the three volumes and decorative title pages

Blocked slipcase

10˝ x 6¾˝

An all-encompassing story

‘MacCulloch’s sweep is magisterial ... This is history on an epic scale, and like all the great epics, it begins in a distant time of confusion and struggle long before the birth of the protagonist.’

  1. Neil MacGregor, from his introduction

From the book’s provocative subtitle – The First Three Thousand Years – Diarmaid MacCulloch sets out his ambition to follow Christianity all the way from its origins to the present day. He delves deep into its ancestry as it emerges from the Ancient Greek and Hebrew cultures, assumes divergent forms in the East and West, and co-exists with the rising faith of Islam. Some strands of the story, from Constantine and Bede to Luther and Darwin, are familiar. Others are less so: MacCulloch explores early Christianity’s debt to Plato, the forgotten medieval Christian empire in China, and why India proved so resistant to missionaries. Throughout the journey, his wit and humanity make him ‘a resolutely genial companion’.

A landmark historical study

A History of Christianity is a book for Christians and non-Christians alike: not a work of theology, but an exhilarating and accessible account of how the Christian religion has shaped human history. Diarmaid MacCulloch sets out to be a ‘candid friend’ of Christianity – never shying away from its darkest episodes, and tackling its many controversies with the measured judgement of a master historian.

The new colour illustrations are the result of meticulous research, and were chosen with the approval of the author. The images encompass medieval Gospel manuscripts, artworks from the high Renaissance and modern documentary photography, all drawn from sources including the Vatican, Cairo’s Coptic Museum and private collections. Maps are included throughout the text, helping to illuminate every chapter of Christianity’s global journey.

Jamie Clarke based his binding designs on three different crosses: an 18th-century Ethiopian Cross, an early Christological monogram and a reliquary cross from c.1180. Each volume has been blocked in a different metallic foil which echoes the colour of the original crosses. 

About Diarmaid MacCulloch

Diarmaid MacCulloch is a historian, writer and broadcaster and ordained Anglican deacon. Emeritus Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University, and Fellow of St Cross College and of Campion Hall, MacCulloch is also a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries of London. He has written extensively on the 16th century and beyond it, specialising in ecclesiastical history and the history of Christianity. His works include Reformation: Europe’s House Divided (1993; The Folio Society, 2013), which won the Wolfson Prize for History, the British Academy Prize and the US National Book Critics’ Circle Award; Thomas Cranmer: A Life (1996), which won the James Tait Black Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Whitbread Biography Prize; Tudor Church Militant: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (1999); Silence: A Christian History (2013); All Things Made New: Writings on the Reformation (2016); and Thomas Cromwell: A Life (2018). His History of Christianity was awarded the Cundill and Hessell-Tiltman prizes and was adapted into a six-part BBC television series in 2010. His other broadcasting work includes How God Made the English (2012), Henry VIII’s Fixer: The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell (2012) and Sex and the Church (2015). He was knighted in 2012.

About Neil MacGregor

Neil MacGregor was Director of the National Gallery, London from 1987 to 2002 and of the British Museum from 2002 to 2015. His books include A History of the World in 100 Objects (2010), Shakespeare’s Restless World (2012), Germany, Memories of a Nation (2014) and Living with the Gods (2018). In 2010, he was made a member of the Order of Merit, the UK’s highest civil honour, and in 2015, he was awarded the Goethe Medal and the German National Prize.


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