A History of Christianity in 15 Objects began on 5 September 2011, with the Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, exploring the enduring symbolic power of two intersecting planks of wood. Join us on this website, or in the church itself, in discovering the manifold ways in which the Christian faith has changed how humans have perceived themselves and others since Jesus Christ.

Some two thousand years ago, a motley collection of Jewish men and women began to proclaim extraordinary beliefs about the God of Israel and their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. Having been crucified by the Roman authorities, these people claimed that this man Jesus had risen from the dead, and they believed that the God of Israel had thereby inaugurated a new age - indeed, a 'new creation' - in which sin and death had been vanquished through the blood of this man they called 'the Christ' and 'Lord', and that this new life was available to all, Jew and Gentile alike.

The 'good news' of these 'Christians', universal in its address, would in due course spread to every corner of the earth, transforming the everyday existence of billions across the globe. By its scandalous suggestion that God had dwelt among us in human flesh, Christian life and thought was profoundly concerned with the material and physical: to be a disciple of Christ was not merely involvement in another esoteric spiritual cult, but rather the total transformation of body, mind and spirit, by the creative Spirit.

Such an all-embracing vision of the good life has unsurprisingly left an astonishing material legacy that speaks of how Christian individuals and communities across the centuries, and across the globe, have envisioned that transformation. It is not just scriptures, creeds, confessions, liturgies and papal bulls that have defined and shaped Christian history, but also icons, clothing, sculptures, musical instruments, jewellery, paintings, bones of long-dead saints, and placards held aloft by CND activists.

It is this physical legacy of Christianity that, from September 2011 to September 2012, Deddington Parish Church in the Diocese of Oxford seeks to explore. Taking its inspiration from Neil MacGregor's extraordinary survey of world history on BBC Radio 4 last year, The History of Christianity in 15 Objects will consist of fifteen lecturers presenting an object of their choice that, in some way, defines and illuminates a particular period of Christian life and thought since the apostolic era. Intended for the congregations of north Oxfordshire, the general public, and broadcast on the websites of the Diocese of Oxford and the Church of England, it is an extraordinary opportunity to convey the riches of Christian history to an audience beyond the academy and theological college. With the bishops of Oxford and Gibraltar, the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History and the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity from Oxford, and Professor James Dunn already committed to the series, it looks set to be a valuable and exciting insight into the rich storehouse of ecclesiastical history.

Above all, in an age in which the media spiritually cocoons us in the secular present, this series of talks aspires to generate deeper appreciation of the significant role Christianity has played, and continues to play, in shaping human responses to God and the world over the past two thousand years. In so doing, it hoped that A History of Christianity in 15 Objects might even contribute in some small way to reigniting the Christian imagination in our own age.

The Rev'd. Dr. Daniel Inman