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And Man Created God: Kings, Cults and Conquests at the Time of Jesus Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best thing about this book is the title. There are whole chapters of filler which have nothing to do with the subject. Read morePublished 5 months ago by John Page
The world has in many ways been so utterly defined by the 'Religions of the Book' - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - particularly in the West, that it's important to remember that... Read morePublished 6 months ago by C. Ball
The title is misleading - but it remains a terrific easy-to-read study.Published 18 months ago by G. Best
This was recommended by a Canadian friend and is waiting on my Kindle to read as a comparison to Fields of Blood.Published 18 months ago by H S Killick
This book was given as a gift to me. I had previously seen it in glancing and been put off by the title. Read morePublished 24 months ago by P. Worthington
Excellent book, well researched and put together. Provides a novel view on the beliefs of the civilisations of Africa and Eurasia at the height of Rome's power.Published on 18 May 2014 by J. Poulton
Very informative; particularly on historical detail. Should be a recommended read and a topic for discussion in every sixth form or sixth form college.Published on 4 Dec. 2013 by Soelse
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