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The first 400 years after the death of Christ saw huge developments and changes in the emerging faith. Christianity spread from Jerusalem to much of the known world; it became the official religion of the British empire; its key texts were written and its core ideas and beliefs were shaped and formalized. Much of this happened under huge pressure, from both within and without. Jonathan Hill charts the fascinating history of this crucial period in the development of Christianity. He shows how and why certain ideas triumphed over others; introduces the key figures, both within the faith and among its opponents, and their intellectual struggles; covers the main battles, often bitterly fought, both of ideas and of weapons; describes the lives of ordinary Christians and their worship and how each influenced the other. Occassionally murky, often thrilling and always compelling, the story Hill tells recounts the ways in which a new religion - centred on a single man executed in the Roman Middle East - first struggled, and then spread, to become the dominant belief system of the world.