23 Oct 2009

New series to reveal unexpected histories of Christianity

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch

The History of Christianity, an Open University co-production with the BBC and Jerusalem Productions, will provide fascinating insights into Christianity, the world’s largest religion. The six programmes will show how different forms of the religion evolved over time because of different events and will indicate intriguing alternative possibilities, such as how Baghdad, rather than Rome, nearly became the centre of the Christian world.

Presenter Diarmaid MacCulloch, leading historian and Professor of History of the Church and Fellow at St Cross College, University of Oxford, will tell the story of the beginnings of Christianity, looking first at the story of its early spread to many parts of Asia. He will then trace the subsequent growth of the ascendancy of the Papacy in the Western Church, and explore the long history of Eastern Orthodoxy centred on Constantinople and later Moscow. He will describe how the explosion of tensions at the Reformation led to new forms of Christianity, and how some of these, notably Evangelical Protestantism, became world missionary forces. The series will conclude with a look at the growth of religious doubt and questioning of Christianity, especially in western Europe in the aftermath of two world wars and the Holocaust, and in the face of the rapid social and cultural changes of the later twentieth century.

John Wolffe, Professor of Religious History at The Open University and academic consultant to the series, said: “For nearly two millennia Christianity has played a central role in world history and has interacted extensively with other religious traditions. The Open University is delighted to be involved in this series, which reflects our commitment to the objective and sympathetically critical study of religion as a major force in human societies.”

The series starts on Thursday 05 November, 9pm on BBC Four.

The Open University is conducting an online survey in parallel with the series, asking viewers what Christianity means to them today. For further information, please see link right.

Editor's Notes
BBC Multiplatform Commissioning Executive is Catherine McCarthy. The Open University Academic Consultant is Professor John Wolffe. The Broadcast Learning Executive for The Open University is Caroline Ogilvie.

Related Courses
Undergraduate Courses
• Introducing Religions (A217)
• Islam in the West: The Politics of Co-existence (AD252)
• Religion in History: Conflict, Conversion and Co-existence (AA307)
• Religion Today: Tradition, Modernity and Change (AD317)

Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Courses with Religious Studies Components
• AA100 The arts past and present (AA100)
• From Enlightenment to Romanticism c.1780-1830 (A207)

Postgraduate Courses
• MA Religious Studies part 1 (A880)
• MA Religious Studies part 2 (A881) is planned for presentation from May 2011.

Professional Development
• Respecting religious diversity at work (GA063)

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