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Customer Review

on 1 January 2014
First of all, I thoroughly recommend this book - Freeman is an excellent story teller and interweaves a compelling argument with the available evidence. As noted in the review by Dr. Price, there are areas where Freeman's thesis is `insecure', but, as Price says, that doesn't mean wrong. Like other reviewers, I do not have the academic training in this area to make my own judgement on some of the minutiae of the argument.

Freeman tells a story of bigotry, dogmatism, bullying, persecution and opportunism in the development of Christian doctrine. We should all be grateful we live in a society where books such as this are able to be written and published. The book neatly interweaves the decline of the Roman Empire with the development of Christian ideology, particularly around the Holy Trinity. For me, the development of Christian orthodoxy was the most interesting part of the book. Freeman describes how a tradition of rational and logical inquiry, inherited from the Greeks, into the nature of God and Jesus was slowly replaced by an orthodoxy enforced by oppression and heresy. For a rationalist, such as I, this makes the story ultimately depressing. As ever, history is made by the bullies and opportunists, not the intellectuals.

Finally, a word about the author. It would be usual in a book of this nature to include a mini biography of the author, if only to establish his credentials in order for readers to take his work seriously. I have 3 works by Freeman none of which include a biography. All we know is that he is a freelance historian. Web searches yield only a little more information - e.g. that he was Head of History at St. Clare's which is a college for overseas and not part of the University. I suspect Freeman has been the victim of `intellectual snobbery' in the past, Price refers to him as a `non-professional'. Does this matter? Not for me, AD 281 has 20 pages of notes and multiple references and is clearly well researched. There are areas where, even to the lay reader, Freeman is interpolating and adding his own interpretation - but that's the nature of this type of work even for academics. I am certainly looking forward to reading the other works by Freeman that I have.
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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