My review of Heretics: The Creation of Christianity from the Gnostics to the Modern Church by Jonathan Wright ran today at PopMatters.
Heretics is a fine, focused survey of the religion’s history for readers who might find Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years too daunting. Wright employs a novel approach, telling the story of Christianity by highlighting pivotal moments in which it was challenged by potential offshoots. He shows how the reaction to these “heretics” clarified orthodoxy and, at times, paradoxically made Christianity a more open and inclusive religion. He also explores the origin and application of the title “heretic,” and how it was used, abused, and changed over the centuries. It’s not a comprehensive book, and at times can be a little ponderous, but the history is entertaining.