Spanning two thousand years of stirring religious, cultural and political events, this lavishly illustrated volume provides the most authoritative and accessible history of Christianity ever published for the general reader. The impact of Christianity on world civilization is almost incalculable, and in exploring this rich heritage, nineteen leading scholars range from the earliest origins to the present day to examine virtually every aspect of the faith. They discuss the apostle Peter and Roman Emperor Constantine, describe the role of Charlemagne in the expansion of the religion, and assess medieval scholasticism and the influence of Thomas Aquinas. The profound changes that occurred during both the Reformation and the Enlightenment are fully treated in chapters that offer revealing portraits of such key figures as Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Rousseau. Fully one third of the book covers Christianity since 1800--with special studies of the faith as practiced in Britain and Europe, North and South America, Africa, India, and the Far East--offering a compelling continuous narrative filled with insight into the enormously diverse Christian world. In the final chapters, the authors consider questions of contemporary Christian theology, conscience and belief, and explore new concepts of Christian community. Over 350 beautiful illustrations--including 32 full color plates--grace the text, ranging from mosaics, paintings and sculptures, to architecture and modern art. There are also ten maps, a chronology of important events, and an annotated guide to further reading. Throughout, the book reflects the changing world in which Christians have found themselves, and the many ways in which, individually and through the institutions of the church, they in turn have influenced history. Comprehensive, vividly narrated, and exquisitely produced, this magnificent book captures the richness and vitality of Christian thought and culture throughout the ages.