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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Those Ghastly Christians!, 26 Jun 2008
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This review is from: AD 381: Heretics, Pagans and the Christian State (Hardcover)
In late 4th century Constantinople the masseurs at the public baths, as they pummelled your body, debated vigorously with each other and their clients the finer points of Christian doctrine. Can you imagine the like today in say a modern sports club? An opinionated discussion about footie maybe,or in the City perhaps the Footsie? Shortly after finishing this book I embarked on Richard Hutchinson's The Last Days of Henry VIII and yet again in Tudor England we find the highest and lowest in the land passionately squabbling about Christian doctrine and often settling their disputes in the most horrible ways. I can't help thinking what a tragedy it was for mankind that for over 1200 years the finest intellects of the western world devoted themselves to sterile debate on the unprovable. And what a ghastly bigoted lot most of those early Christian fathers were irrespective of what side of the doctrinal fence they sat on. When the neo-platonist female philosopher and mathmetician Hypatia,arguably the finest intellect of her age but of course a pagan, was torn to pieces by a mob in early 5th c. Alexandria it was almost certainly at the instigation of a christian cleric.
This book is I think unlikely to prove compulsive reading for those with a casual interest in history even though it is clearly intended for popular consumption. You have to be interested in the late antique world, the history of Christianity or the history of ideas. That said, I found this book an engrossing read that brought into sharp focus much that I had encountered in various other works on late Roman history.
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