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Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose id Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.


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Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose id Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.

30 review for The Christians and the Fall of Rome (Great Ideas)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    An interesting little pamphlet that basically describes how the Christian Faith managed to get a foothold over the Mediterranean in Syria, Palestine and Rome, and how it then later superseded the old Polytheist Pagan beliefs, most notably with Emperor Constantine whom adopted the faith for the official Roman Empire. In fact, the title of this pamphlet is misleading; it does not go into the Fall of Rome by the Goths at all, but rather describes, using a rational analyses and hypothesis, what dist An interesting little pamphlet that basically describes how the Christian Faith managed to get a foothold over the Mediterranean in Syria, Palestine and Rome, and how it then later superseded the old Polytheist Pagan beliefs, most notably with Emperor Constantine whom adopted the faith for the official Roman Empire. In fact, the title of this pamphlet is misleading; it does not go into the Fall of Rome by the Goths at all, but rather describes, using a rational analyses and hypothesis, what distinguished the Christian Faith from the old Pagan ways and how, because of the adoption of it from Rome, ended up in the first few hundred years after Jesus died, spreading across Northern Africa and Europe - the Roman Empire - because it was taught from missionaries using the Roman road network. Edward Gibbon uses a rational approach to this study, and probably for when he wrote it in the 18th Century, would most certainly roused a few peoples feathers as he is openly quite cutting and critical against organised religion, although towards the final few pages of the pamphlet he describes that originally Christianity was meant for the poor, meek, beggars, women and orphans. Its adherents and its focus was on the 'dregs' of society, some of whom later rose to prominence from their Faith. I found that interesting. Essentially an Enlightenment text, and I suppose his 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', his main noted work, is also a product of these years. Interesting in some parts, quite cutting and maybe even ruthless in some sections.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Texbritreader

    I found this excerpt from "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", presented as part of Penguin's Great Ideas series, to be brilliant. Gibbon addresses the rise of Christianity as a solely historical event, free of all religious belief which commonly filled historical and journalistic writings from the late 18th century. While he frankly concedes some of the attractions and merits of the early Christian church, he is unafraid to present the inner machinations and political aspec I found this excerpt from "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", presented as part of Penguin's Great Ideas series, to be brilliant. Gibbon addresses the rise of Christianity as a solely historical event, free of all religious belief which commonly filled historical and journalistic writings from the late 18th century. While he frankly concedes some of the attractions and merits of the early Christian church, he is unafraid to present the inner machinations and political aspects of the church and it's place on a broader world stage full of power plays and bids for popular influence. His style is frequently ironic with dashes of sly wit but also balanced, erudite and lucid. It is not difficult to see why the original text from which this book is derived has been so influential. An admirable writer well deserving his place in the literary pantheon, Gibbon richly deserves to be as read and emulated today as he has been the past.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Dann

    This was enlightening. I feel enlightened. Never before have I dissected elements of the Christian religion, and it kind of made me angry. Here's a video about it. This was enlightening. I feel enlightened. Never before have I dissected elements of the Christian religion, and it kind of made me angry. Here's a video about it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Birss

    This is a fascinating skeptic's view of the early history of the Christian church. Though unabashed racism generally and anti-semitism specifically are not unusual to find in old classics, in this one it is essential to the writer's message. His is a very high opinion of the Roman Republic, her philosophies, myths, and government, from which he claims the greatest nations of the eighteenth century have descended, the European nations of which he is a part. Against these grand nations he compares This is a fascinating skeptic's view of the early history of the Christian church. Though unabashed racism generally and anti-semitism specifically are not unusual to find in old classics, in this one it is essential to the writer's message. His is a very high opinion of the Roman Republic, her philosophies, myths, and government, from which he claims the greatest nations of the eighteenth century have descended, the European nations of which he is a part. Against these grand nations he compares the ancient Jewish people, and with this disparagement he begins his book, and lays upon it the foundation for his later condemnation of the Jesus sect that was birthed from them. Chief among his judgments of the Jewish nation and the Christianities that followed it is their intolerance toward any other form of worship, polytheism and idolatry in particular, and their inability to assimilate with surrounding nations and cultures which followed that intolerance. From here, he tracks the growth and development of the early church, especially the relationship of the early Jesus followers to their Jewish brothers and sisters, the belief in miracles as a foundation to their faith and conviction, the early dealings with schismatic groups and sects, and the rise of the early church government. An elementary understanding of the history of the early church will help in understanding this book. The writer assumes this knowledge of the reader. If a reader has only carefully read and understood the book of Acts, this may be sufficient, as the history in this book follows Luke's history quite closely. As a Christian and anarchist, I found this book to be one of the most enlightening short reads I've had when it comes to forming an understanding of the relationship of the early Christians to empire, and how the expression of the faith that followed Jesus stood in resistance to the earthly Powers, grew among them, and nonviolently tore them down by their subtle aggravation and consistent undermining of those authorities as they made them irrelevant by that presence as an alternative nation among them. I do not share the author's antisemitism or white supremacy. Nor do I share the author's veneration of the myths and philosophies of the violent Roman Empire over the simple faith of the colonized Jews or the persecuted Christians. I am, in fact, intolerant, exactly as this author suggests. I will not tolerate the ambition of empire, or the self serving idols of nationalism, racism, or class. I do not tolerate violence or powers of greed and acquisition. I am intolerant. I will live apart. This book was inspiring to me, as I celebrate the fall of empire then and now, by the simple, foolish, slow and unassuming growth of the Kingdom of God that will ultimately cause its final ruin and bring it to its final judgment.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James Badger

    I was somewhat disappointed to find that this is not really a standalone work, but rather an excerpt of Gibbon's larger and more important work on the rise and fall of the Rome. That said, I really enjoyed the precision of Gibbon's prose. I can see why this portion of his work was not particularly well-received by the Christians of the day. It reveals the reality of early Christendom: multiple fragmentary groups with no consistent theology. It shows, and quit controversially so, that the Christia I was somewhat disappointed to find that this is not really a standalone work, but rather an excerpt of Gibbon's larger and more important work on the rise and fall of the Rome. That said, I really enjoyed the precision of Gibbon's prose. I can see why this portion of his work was not particularly well-received by the Christians of the day. It reveals the reality of early Christendom: multiple fragmentary groups with no consistent theology. It shows, and quit controversially so, that the Christianity we have today is the result of human construction. Given the high degree of clarity and controversy in this silver of Gibbon's work, I really think I should acquire more of his work.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fernando Pestana da Costa

    A short extract of the great oeuvre of Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline an Fall of the Roman Empire, this book is concerned with the primitive Christians and the spread of Christianity in the roman world. Considering this was written and published in 1776, it is a matter of wonder to see the very unflattering way the primitive Christians, their beliefs, and their way of living is sometimes portrayed by Gibbons.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    Gibbon's book was banned for the crime of disrespecting the character of sacred Christian doctrine, by "treat[ing] the Christian church as a phenomenon of general history, not a special case admitting supernatural explanations and disallowing criticism of its adherents". It's precisely for this reason that he can look at early Christianity as a historical phenomenon and can create a more rounded picture of its impact on the Roman Empire.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    While this no doubt must have been quite the book for its time - it's unadulterated articulation of early Christianity would no doubt have been considered heretical by 18th century standards - it has lost its edge in modern times. This is not to say Gibbon's writing is mundane or that the book is unimportant - far from it - but as I've mentioned, there is nothing particularly shocking in this abridged excerpt that anyone interested in early Christianity would not be aware of.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alasdair

    Not sure this works as a fillet from the larger work - it's too much in isolation. Needs the bigger context. Also misleading title: Gibbon doesn't suggest Christians were responsible for fall of Rome, and much of this is development of early church, not decline of Rome. Not a problem, just not what the title suggests.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    2.5 stars, really. Interesting observations about the rise of Christianity in Rome and further afield, but the writer’s prose is too heavy for me to enjoy. This must have been super scandalous on release as the author is generally sceptical of organised religion and Christianity in particular.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I couldn't really make much of it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    A decent book even if largely dismissed by contemporary scholarship.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Burridge

    Brief excerpt from the great classic.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matt Ryall

    I've been meaning to read Gibbon's epic, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, so this excerpt provided a good way to get into it. The title is perhaps a bit misleading. Gibbon doesn't really describe any relationship between the Christians and the fall of Rome, he just talks about the early church, how it rose, and how these events coincided with changes in the late Roman empire. Still, I found this area of discussion very interesting. Despite the interesting topic, I struggled I've been meaning to read Gibbon's epic, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, so this excerpt provided a good way to get into it. The title is perhaps a bit misleading. Gibbon doesn't really describe any relationship between the Christians and the fall of Rome, he just talks about the early church, how it rose, and how these events coincided with changes in the late Roman empire. Still, I found this area of discussion very interesting. Despite the interesting topic, I struggled to get through the dense prose at times. I'd recommend reading this only when you have dedicated time to sit and carefully pull apart the sentences.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Awesome. I've always had an interest in Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but I'd never really thought about it. This excerpt (part of the wonderful Penguin Books Great Ideas series) may have pushed me to the point where I have to! A brilliant and logical challenge to faith and religion, written some 250 years ago, when such ideas must have still been rather scandalous. Don't get wrong, he never approaches the subject from the Atheist angle, but rather just from a rational viewpo Awesome. I've always had an interest in Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but I'd never really thought about it. This excerpt (part of the wonderful Penguin Books Great Ideas series) may have pushed me to the point where I have to! A brilliant and logical challenge to faith and religion, written some 250 years ago, when such ideas must have still been rather scandalous. Don't get wrong, he never approaches the subject from the Atheist angle, but rather just from a rational viewpoint of human nature. And the writing is quite witty and entertaining, much less dry than I would expect from a book written in the 18th century.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liz Polding

    Interesting and probably quite shocking when first written, this charts the progress of Christianity from its early days of democratic and quiet emergence to the aggressive proselytising and hierarchical splendour of the emergent Catholic Church. Quite savage in places and particularly relevant now that the unshakable power of the church has been, well, shaken. Gibbon is fairly scathing about faith itself, but his main attack is on the church itself, with faith receiving a lesser blow as a rathe Interesting and probably quite shocking when first written, this charts the progress of Christianity from its early days of democratic and quiet emergence to the aggressive proselytising and hierarchical splendour of the emergent Catholic Church. Quite savage in places and particularly relevant now that the unshakable power of the church has been, well, shaken. Gibbon is fairly scathing about faith itself, but his main attack is on the church itself, with faith receiving a lesser blow as a rather odd form of self deception.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Gibbon writes, "In the course of this important, though perhaps tedious inquiry,..." I rather suspect that the book is not as important now as it was in the author's day. however the its tediousness remain undiminished. That said, there are still some useful insights, "The loss of sensual pleasure was supplied and compensated by spiritual pride"

  18. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Christianity flourished in the Roman Empire because of its promise of life after death, which the pagans and Jews did not believe. It also looked after the poor, widows, and orphans through donations from members. It spread with ease through the empire because of the road system established to move Legions to the far corners of the empire.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amber Berry

    I'm not sure how this got onto my library "for later" bookshelf, but I borrowed it. It's a slim volume, and that could be deceptive. I've sometimes thought I should read Gibbon, so this may be my chance.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin K

    A good sampling of Gibbon on the development of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Unfortunately the excerpt doesn't discuss Christianity as a contributing factor to the fall of Rome, as you would expect from the title.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Rindsberg

    Gibbon got style.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mo Topflight

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anahi Lopes

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ion Lungu

  25. 5 out of 5

    Levan Ramishvili

  26. 5 out of 5

    ~

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bobcesca

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tomburnside90gmail.com

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dimitris Balos

  30. 5 out of 5

    Abhisek Pandey

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