Diarmaid MacCulloch, acknowledged master of the big picture in Christian history, unravels a polyphony of silences from the history of Christianity and beyond. He considers the surprisingly mixed attitudes of Judaism to silence, Jewish and Christian borrowings from Greek explorations of the divine, and the silences which were a feature of Jesus's brief ministry and witness. Besides prayer and mystical contemplation, there are shame and evasion; careless and purposeful forgetting. Many deliberate silences are revealed: the forgetting of histories which were not useful to later Church authorities (such as the leadership roles of women among the first Christians), or the constant problems which Christianity has faced in dealing honestly with sexuality. Behind all this is the silence of God; and in a deeply personal final chapter, MacCulloch brings a message of optimism for those who still seek God beyond the clamorous noise of over-confident certainties.
Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. His THOMAS CRANMER (1996) won the Whitbread Biography Award, the James Tait Black Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize; REFORMATION: EUROPE'S HOUSE DIVIDED (2003) won the Wolfson Prize for History and the British Academy Book Prize. A HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY: THE FIRST THREE THOUSAND YEARS and the BBC television series based on it appeared in 2009; the book won the Cundill Prize, the world's largest history prize, in 2010. His television series HOW GOD MADE THE ENGLISH aired on BBC2 in March 2012. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and was knighted in the New Year's Honours List of 2012.