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And Man Created God: Kings, Cults and Conquests at the Time of Jesus by [O'Grady, Selina]
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And Man Created God: Kings, Cults and Conquests at the Time of Jesus Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Length: 416 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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"* 'This vividly compelling account of how Christianity rose triumphant from the religious and civil tumults of its earliest days is a must read. With cinematographic force it brings that epoch so astonishingly and informatively to life that no-one should be allowed to lay claim to Christian or indeed any religious faith who has not read this book first, and meditated on its import. It lays the facts bare, unsparingly and with a sharp eye; and the facts speak very loudly for themselves.' - A. C. Grayling * 'Selina O'Grady navigates skillfully between the special pleadings of faith-based apologists and the God-bashing skepticism of writers who dismiss all religious belief as delusion. This is an important book - written from outside the perspective of belief - that helps to explain the enduring appeal of religion in our supposedly secular age.' - Malise Ruthven, author of Islam in the World"

About the Author

Selina O'Grady has had a lifelong interest in history and religious affairs. She was a producer of BBC1's moral documentary series Heart of the Matter presented by Joan Bakewell, Channel 4's live open-ended chat show After Dark and was also a producer on Radio 4's history series Leviathan. She has reviewed regularlyfor the San Francisco Chronicle, Literary Review and Tablet, specialising in works of popular history. She is the co-editor of two books: Great Spirits: The Fifty-Two Christians who Most Influenced their Millennium (ranging from Bach to Martin Luther King), and A Deep But Dazzling Darkness, an anthology from Anglo-Saxon to modern times of the experience of belief and disbelief.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2720 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (1 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008QO90R6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #276,166 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an interesting account of the world around 2000 years ago, bringing together the events at that time across the Roman Empire and in Africa, the Middle East, India and China.

In doing so the author has shown how religon was used as tool of government by Augustus and his immediate successors in Rome, as well as by other leaders in Africa and elsewhere, and explains clearly the influence of various religons around the world at the time of Jesus. Here are adherents of branches of the Jewish faith, including the Suduccees, The Pharisees, and their oponents the Samaritans, as well as the early disciples of the Christain faith . Here too are Jains, Buddhists, followers of Isis, Greek and Roman gods (including Augustus after his death)and Confucians. The ways of life of the rulers and their peoples,and impacts of their religous beliefs are all described here in this informative and enjoyable book.

In many ways this book is as much, if not more, a political history of the time as it is a study of the religous movements of the day.

The most interesting aspect of the book for me was the way in which concurrent events in different parts of the world are brought together and are compared and contrasted by the author.

There is some repetition of information, which can be helpful sometimes and a little unnecessary at others, but overall this a great read for the general reader with an interest in religon and/or history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating study of the religions in the known world at the time of Jesus. The book sticks fairly rigidly to those few years while Jesus was alive, but travels widely from Europe to North Africa to the Middle East, Pakistan, India and China. The sheer range and variety of it is impressive.

Covering so many different religions and ideas could have made for a very dry and boring book, but the author makes it live by using the stories of some colourful individuals as a framework on which to hang her points.

It quickly becomes apparent that there was a certain 'zeitgeist' of the time, in that similar ideas keep recurring in different religions in different places. Many of these recurring ideas ended up in Christianity as we know it today.

Another interesting theme is how the intellectual elite, on the one hand, and the masses on the other, viewed and used religion. I was intrigued to learn how the rapid expansion of the Roman Empire in the years before Jesus created the environment in which certain ideas could flourish.

I have only one small criticism: the book claims that it will explain how the tiny Jesus cult triumphed over more poular religions, but I don't feel it achieves this aim. What it does explain very eloquently is why Christianity was attractive enough that it lasted until the time of Constantine. But by 312 AD Christianity was only followed by a small minority of the empires's population. The book does not explain at all how it went from there to becoming the world's most popular religion.

Overall a very readable and informative book, and covering content which is not easily found elsewhere. Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a huge collection of facts about religions and dynasties throughout the known world around the time of the birth of Jesus. You will learn for instance something about the rivalries of the different factions in the Chinese court, or who murdered whom to attain power in the various power bases of the Near East, or ditto for India and so on. And of course, with considerable repetition, the various rivalries between individuals vying for power in Rome. Some may enjoy this and much of the information given does contribute to forming a picture of what life might have been like then. Personally, I found a lot of this rather tiresome. Is it really relevant to the title of this book to hear in some detail how (potential) emperors murdered their rivals or were in turn themselves murdered? To know what kind of beard so-and-so had, or the robes some particular empress our courtesan wore, or what actual sacrifices they offered, or the names and numbers of rivals they had executed, doesn't really tell me much about the actual story of the birth of the large-scale religions.

And then: when one finally gets to the moment when Christianity is in the process of being founded, not primarily by Jesus but by Paul it is argued, the book sort of rushes to an end. As in a sense it must: because that greatest of the world religions had not truly beeen 'founded' at the death of Peter and Paul. From my own sketchy knowledge, the actual foundation of Christianity was a lengthy process extending over the 300-400 years subsequent to the birth of Christ, including the process by which Christianity became the virtual state religion of the Roman Empire.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book's subtitle - "Kings, Cults and Conquests at the Time of Jesus" - should have been the main one. The main title and the blurb on the back are, I think, misleading in that they suggest that the book is all about "the interplay between faith and power" , about the way rulers "manipulated [or even invented] religious faith to consolidate their power". That is true of several instances; but that theme forms a relatively small part in this rambling, frequently unchronological and occasionally repetitive book.

Other themes receive much more attention, notably how religions travelled along trade routes, so that the great trading nations received a rich amalgam of cults which often developed a syncretic relationship, and which, by and large, accepted each other. O'Grady shows how the new mystery cults bound their followers together in a select community, expected more from them than mere worship at their temples, established a personal relationship between their deity and the individual, and made moral demands on the latter. These cults still accepted other gods alongside of them. Only Judaism and Christianity rejected all other gods and resisted amalgamation: Herod's attempt to accommodate the gods of Rome alongside of the God of the Jews was violently rejected by his Jewish subjects. (O'Grady does not discuss the syncretism that can be found in Johannine and Pauline Christianity: the notion of a divine figure rising from the dead, to give just one example, was to be found in pre-Christian cults in the surrounding areas.
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