In preparation for teaching a course at the New Hampshire Institute of Biblical Studies, I have been reading a lot of history – both sacred and secular. In conversation with another instructor at the school, I picked up A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins as a possible textbook.
History is not simply one story, but a tapestry of many different elements that weave in and out of each other’s spheres of influences. There are tremendous, towering personalities who effect tremendous change; but then there are seemingly insignificant influences that slowly erode or build nations and movements. History’s realities are more complex than can ever be embodied in a single work.
That being said, Tomkins’ book was an entertaining romp through the complex and often confusing Christian millennia. The book is a very high level survey of historical events and Tomkins does a great job of keeping focused without getting too bogged down in details. When you consider just how broad a topic he is dealing with, this ability should not go unnoticed.
In short, if you’re looking for a brief, well-written survey of the Christian era, then I’d definitely check this book out. It is not objective. Tomkins perspective is borders on irreverently sarcastic, so just be warned.