There is currently a series running on Channel 4 called A History of Christianity I have been watching the catch up series currently available on bbc i player and have found them to be both interesting and informative and just wanted to make other people aware in case they are interested. I have included the programme information off the first three episodes below:
1. The First Christianity
When he was a small boy, Diarmaid MacCulloch's parents used to drive him round historic churches. Little did they know that they had created a monster, with the history of the Christian Church becoming his life's work.
In the first of a six-part series sweeping across four continents, Professor MacCulloch goes in search of Christianity's forgotten origins. He overturns the familiar story that it all began when the apostle Paul took Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome. Instead, he shows that the true origins of Christianity lie further east, and that at one point it was poised to triumph in Asia, maybe even in China.
The headquarters of Christianity may well have been Baghdad not Rome, and if that had happened then western Christianity would have been very different.
2. Catholicism: The Unpredictable Rise of Rome
Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch's grandfather was a devout pillar of the local Anglican church and felt that any dabbling in Catholicism was liable to pollute the English way of life. But now his grandfather isn't around to stop him exploring the extraordinary and unpredictable rise of the Roman Catholic Church.
Over one billion Christians look to Rome, more than half of all Christians on the planet. But how did a small Jewish sect from the backwoods of 1st century Palestine, which preached humility and the virtue of poverty, become the established religion of western Europe - wealthy, powerful and expecting unfailing obedience from the faithful?
Amongst the surprising revelations, MacCulloch tells how confession was invented by monks in a remote island off the coast of Ireland, and how the Crusades gave Britain the university system.
Above all, it is a story of what can be achieved when you have friends in high places.
3. Orthodoxy - From Empire to Empire
Today, Eastern Orthodox Christianity flourishes in the Balkans and Russia, with over 150 million members worldwide. It is unlike Catholicism or Protestantism - worship is carefully choreographed, icons pull the faithful into a mystical union with Christ, and everywhere there is a symbol of a fierce-looking bird, the double-headed eagle. What story is this ancient drama trying to tell us?
In the third part of his journey into the history of Christianity, Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch charts Orthodoxy's extraordinary fight for survival. After its glory days in the eastern Roman Empire, it stood right in the path of Muslim expansion, suffered betrayal by crusading Catholics, was seized by the Russian tsars and faced near-extinction under Soviet communism.
MacCulloch visits the greatest collection of early icons in the Sinai desert, a surviving relic of the iconoclastic crisis in Istanbul and Ivan the Terrible's cathedral in Moscow to discover the secret of Orthodoxy's endurance.