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Pagans and Christians

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Fox recreates the period from the 2nd to the 4th century, when the Olympians lost their dominion and Christianity, with Constantine's conversion, triumphed in the Mediterranean world. CONTENTS List of Maps Preface Pagans & Christians Pagans & their cities Pagan cults Seeing the gods Language of the gods The spread of Christianity Living like angels Visions & prophecy Fox recreates the period from the 2nd to the 4th century, when the Olympians lost their dominion and Christianity, with Constantine's conversion, triumphed in the Mediterranean world. CONTENTS List of Maps Preface Pagans & Christians Pagans & their cities Pagan cults Seeing the gods Language of the gods The spread of Christianity Living like angels Visions & prophecy Persecution & martyrdom Bishops & authority Sinners & saints Constantine & the church From pagan to Christian Notes Index


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Fox recreates the period from the 2nd to the 4th century, when the Olympians lost their dominion and Christianity, with Constantine's conversion, triumphed in the Mediterranean world. CONTENTS List of Maps Preface Pagans & Christians Pagans & their cities Pagan cults Seeing the gods Language of the gods The spread of Christianity Living like angels Visions & prophecy Fox recreates the period from the 2nd to the 4th century, when the Olympians lost their dominion and Christianity, with Constantine's conversion, triumphed in the Mediterranean world. CONTENTS List of Maps Preface Pagans & Christians Pagans & their cities Pagan cults Seeing the gods Language of the gods The spread of Christianity Living like angels Visions & prophecy Persecution & martyrdom Bishops & authority Sinners & saints Constantine & the church From pagan to Christian Notes Index

30 review for Pagans and Christians

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Having read some Fox previously (and not his gardening books), seeing this at the Evanston Library booksale and finding books which address both church and classical history rare, I snapped it up. Pagans and Christians has two major--and quite controversial--theses running throughout the bulk of the text. The first is that Christians were a tiny minority (under 5% is estimated) in the Roman empire until the "conversion" of Constantine in the fourth century and that second is that Constantine Having read some Fox previously (and not his gardening books), seeing this at the Evanston Library booksale and finding books which address both church and classical history rare, I snapped it up. Pagans and Christians has two major--and quite controversial--theses running throughout the bulk of the text. The first is that Christians were a tiny minority (under 5% is estimated) in the Roman empire until the "conversion" of Constantine in the fourth century and that second is that Constantine converted. The first claim is remarkable in that patristic writers--and their Christian successors to the present day--suggest, often insistently, otherwise. The second claim is remarkable in that everyone agrees that Constantine, if baptised at all (the only sources for this claim are interested parties), was only inducted to the Church on his deathbed. On the first thesis I have no strong opinion and even Fox admits there's a lot of guesswork in his five percent estimate. On the second thesis much hinges upon one's appropriation of a text attributed to the emperor, "To the Assembly of the Saints". Fox argues it to be authentic and, again, I am not expert enough to judge whether all or any of it represents Constantine's views--or even actual words. Suffice it to say that I've read other scholars who argue, but at much shorter length, otherwise. No one contests, however, that Constantine's administration favored Christians--well, some Christians, they being a contentious lot--as no other Roman government had before and that, as a result, the Church grew and certainly became more visible and attractively convenient. But, of course, this book is not just about the rise of Christianity. Fox also attempts to characterize paganism and to deal with the arguments--with which he disagrees--that Christianity was substantially just another cult arising out of a broader Mediterranean religious culture. Here the very complexity of antique religions and their general lack of anything that we moderns would recognize intellectually at "theology" makes the task daunting. Fox narrows the field by focusing primarily on the oracles and other means by which the ancients communicated with gods and goddesses, noting that there was little of doctrine and less of dogma in ancient religions which were more matters of widely diverse rituals and traditions. His treatment, while narrowly detailed as regards some very particular (and, one hopes, representative) examples, here disappointed me as virtually no attention was paid to the bases for pagan belief in the supernatural authority of these oracles. While Julian Jaynes bicameral mind hypothesis is mentioned, and dismissed, briefly, absolutely no attention is paid to the evidence for the use of psychotropic plants in the Greco-Roman world. Such authenticating evidence as Fox does adduce, but not much explore, comes from references to dreams and ancient theories about dreaming.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Late paganism was moribund, decrepit and sclerotic; it had no chance against the rise of Christianity. Well, so goes the historical myth. But, not true, says Robin Lane Fox; certainly not true in the countrysides of the Roman Empire, which, by the way, was the last place in which Christianity took hold. Fox paints a rural, and urban, Roman Imperium where, aside from the skepticism of some philosophers, some form of pagan belief remained vital even years after Constantine convened the Council of Late paganism was moribund, decrepit and sclerotic; it had no chance against the rise of Christianity. Well, so goes the historical myth. But, not true, says Robin Lane Fox; certainly not true in the countrysides of the Roman Empire, which, by the way, was the last place in which Christianity took hold. Fox paints a rural, and urban, Roman Imperium where, aside from the skepticism of some philosophers, some form of pagan belief remained vital even years after Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea. Fox concentrates on the various Roman provinces of Asia Minor, and focuses on the second century. The combination of choices is very good for comparison and contrast work between paganism and Christianity. The countryside here was more densely populated than in most of the empire; this more densely rural demographic meant that rural didn't necessarily mean rustic. And, as this was the prime growth area of early Christianity, Fox is able to put this growth in context, and ask, and even tentatively answer, some questions about that growth. The second century is the right time, too, getting into the era of the first Christian consolidations of doctrine, the first wave of post-biblical books being written, and so forth. An excellent, eye-opening, and in-depth book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    Late paganism was moribund, decrepit and sclerotic; it had no chance against the rise of Christianity. Well, so goes the historical myth. But, not true, says Robin Lane Fox; certainly not true in the countrysides of the Roman Empire, which, by the way, was the last place in which Christianity took hold. Fox paints a rural, and urban, Roman Imperium where, aside from the skepticism of some philosophers, some form of pagan belief remained vital even years after Constantine convened the Council of Late paganism was moribund, decrepit and sclerotic; it had no chance against the rise of Christianity. Well, so goes the historical myth. But, not true, says Robin Lane Fox; certainly not true in the countrysides of the Roman Empire, which, by the way, was the last place in which Christianity took hold. Fox paints a rural, and urban, Roman Imperium where, aside from the skepticism of some philosophers, some form of pagan belief remained vital even years after Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea. Fox concentrates on the various Roman provinces of Asia Minor, and focuses on the second century. The combination of choices is very good for comparison and contrast work between paganism and Christianity. The countryside here was more densely populated than in most of the empire; this more densely rural demographic meant that rural didn't necessarily mean rustic. And, as this was the prime growth area of early Christianity, Fox is able to put this growth in context, and ask, and even tentatively answer, some questions about that growth. The second century is the right time, too, getting into the era of the first Christian consolidations of doctrine, the first wave of post-biblical books being written, and so forth. An excellent, eye-opening, and in-depth book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Not quite what I was looking for: influences on Christianity: anything taken directly taken from paganism and Christianized, e.g., something detailed, such as how possibly Roman religious garb influenced Christian vestments. However, if I take it on its terms and am not too disappointed that it isn't what I hoped for, it's an amazing book: detailed history of both Christianity and paganism from the Gordians [3rd century] through Constantine [4th century]. I felt it was a bit similar to The Not quite what I was looking for: influences on Christianity: anything taken directly taken from paganism and Christianized, e.g., something detailed, such as how possibly Roman religious garb influenced Christian vestments. However, if I take it on its terms and am not too disappointed that it isn't what I hoped for, it's an amazing book: detailed history of both Christianity and paganism from the Gordians [3rd century] through Constantine [4th century]. I felt it was a bit similar to The Golden Bough, if not in structure, amount of detail on a similar subject--in the latter case ancient Celtic folkways and their influence on modern English [mostly rural] practice. Hidden away were what I was looking for here and there; also in the later chapters were Christian parallels with paganism. Paganism retained its vibrancy through the Age of Constantine and beyond. It took many, many years to disappear completely. I enjoyed the discussion of the visions of The Shepherd of Hermas, which almost made it into the Christian canon of Scripture and how this book tied in with the pagan notions of oracles and visions. I regretted there was no discussion of the Council[s] at which books were admitted to or rejected from the eventual New Testament. I learned a lot about how the authority of the church was set up and also how Christian "overachievers" first set up monasticism. I enjoyed reading about Constantine's Good Friday sermon, which emphasized his Christian thinking, although he delayed baptism until his deathbed. Recommended, but this detailed work does take concentration.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cristobo De

    It amazes me the talent this man (Robin Lane Fox) has to track small stories, ages old, and explain them to you like if they had just happened last week. I mean, from an unsuspected amount of sources mr Fox manages to explain the spread of Christianity during II-III centuries A.C. almost by the month! He even locates isolated individuals (definitely NOT celebrities) and follow their biography. It`s almost as if those cities in Asia Minor had been preserved like Pompey and you could have a look It amazes me the talent this man (Robin Lane Fox) has to track small stories, ages old, and explain them to you like if they had just happened last week. I mean, from an unsuspected amount of sources mr Fox manages to explain the spread of Christianity during II-III centuries A.C. almost by the month! He even locates isolated individuals (definitely NOT celebrities) and follow their biography. It`s almost as if those cities in Asia Minor had been preserved like Pompey and you could have a look inside the daily life of their inhabitants. This miracle is only possible due to his amazing scholarship. The man makes the difficult seem simple just because he obviously has gone through an amazing heap of documents. Hard read but definitely worth the effort.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    PRE-READ: I'm hoping that this book might have some reliable information as to these early years when Christianity became more powerful and Paganism declined.And evidence as to the whys and wherefores. Having studied in a Catholic monastery for several years, the History of the Church was one subject we rarely studied - actually I can recall only one year when it was studied. "Why ?", is now the question that intrigues, bemuses and amuses me. Certainly our vow of Chastity never had the economic PRE-READ: I'm hoping that this book might have some reliable information as to these early years when Christianity became more powerful and Paganism declined.And evidence as to the whys and wherefores. Having studied in a Catholic monastery for several years, the History of the Church was one subject we rarely studied - actually I can recall only one year when it was studied. "Why ?", is now the question that intrigues, bemuses and amuses me. Certainly our vow of Chastity never had the economic reasons for its establishment revealed to us.It was only a spiritual rationale that was ever produced. And no one ever declared that the First Pope was married. Certainly questioning was not a prominent part of our classes. My tortured doubts as to God's existence I only revealed in private to our Novice Master or Student Director. And I failed my three Moral Theology essays, the last having scribbled on its final page "A disturbing piece of work." I now wear it like a Badge of Honour !! I am also planning to read Charles Freeman's book, "The Closing of the Western Mind - The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason." Strangely we also studied Philosophy and the History of Philosophy. And in my Oral Exam before three priests I argued the case that it was impossible to prove both the Existence and Non-existence of God. It must have gone down like a lead balloon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Old-Barbarossa

    Crammed with details. Some reviewers seem to find this biased either towards the xtian view or the pagan, but I found it well balanced…they all seem bonkers at times. So, from some perspectives pagans worshiped a snake glove puppet and ventriloquist stylee statues and xtians worshiped a donkey headed god or a variant of Dionysus. And while the xtians have their weird sex hang-ups the pagans did too…they just took it a bit further, occasionally castrating priests…though if you were a priest of Mars Crammed with details. Some reviewers seem to find this biased either towards the xtian view or the pagan, but I found it well balanced…they all seem bonkers at times. So, from some perspectives pagans worshiped a snake glove puppet and ventriloquist stylee statues and xtians worshiped a donkey headed god or a variant of Dionysus. And while the xtians have their weird sex hang-ups the pagans did too…they just took it a bit further, occasionally castrating priests…though if you were a priest of Mars you tended to keep your bollocks and have huge dinners, so you need to choose the right god I suppose. Good look at the shift in dominance to the xtian side, yet also covers a whole bunch of lunacy there too: schisms, heretics, angry letter writing, xtian on xtian persecution, more angry letter writing. Bit of a slog at times but dryly humorous in parts too. An important book for xtians (look folks, there was never any agreement they made it up as they went along), modern pagans (your forbearers were quite happy to sacrifice a shit load of livestock at the drop of a hat and occasionally cut the balls off the priests), atheists (know your enemy!)…but also anyone with an interest in Hx.

  8. 4 out of 5

    JW

    A study of the continued strength of paganism during the rise of Christianity. The author is a master of his sources. He presents a clear picture of religious sentiments in this period, albeit with some anti-Christian snark. The book is informative, and that's all that's required of a work of history. Unfortunately, Fox's prose is deadly. You can't read more than twenty pages without nodding off. I can recommend this book to anyone suffering from chronic insomnia.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jesús Rodriguez

    Well it could be unfair to rate this because Robin Lane Fox does know his subject and maybe the foremost on Religion studies and history; and there that is where the problem come in. He tries too hard to give so much details, information that the reader gets lost and will need to read two or three times the same page or paragraph just to make sure the reader knows what he is talking about also to convince-example that the Christianity Catholicism version of intermediaries with the saints and Well it could be unfair to rate this because Robin Lane Fox does know his subject and maybe the foremost on Religion studies and history; and there that is where the problem come in. He tries too hard to give so much details, information that the reader gets lost and will need to read two or three times the same page or paragraph just to make sure the reader knows what he is talking about also to convince-example that the Christianity Catholicism version of intermediaries with the saints and virgin Mary in that matter is not from them but maybe Pagan rite or ritual with the many gods they worship that eventually that reaches to the one ultimate true God-Plato. I really don't know what I was looking for in this book-although it did have many interesting information-when I first seen the title and pick my interest, but it sure wasn't this dry analysis of both-Paganism and Christianity and basically how both interchange with each other even to this day. Again I do not belittle this authors knowledge and on the contrary if any are interest in Religious study or have a career in it, I highly recommend this book but other than that this is just not my cup of tea.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    Fox does an incredible job of stitching together evidence from texts, epigraphs, coins and other sources to paint detailed portraits of both late paganism and early Christianity up to and including Constantine. He believes that the Church was not growing greatly until the conversion of Constantine, which he shows to be very real (in agreement with Leithart's later book). It is difficult to draw any firm numbers on the size of the Church prior to Constantine, and although it was growing and Fox does an incredible job of stitching together evidence from texts, epigraphs, coins and other sources to paint detailed portraits of both late paganism and early Christianity up to and including Constantine. He believes that the Church was not growing greatly until the conversion of Constantine, which he shows to be very real (in agreement with Leithart's later book). It is difficult to draw any firm numbers on the size of the Church prior to Constantine, and although it was growing and spreading, Fox makes us think that without the conversion of Constantine, its explosive growth may not have happened.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    When I started this book I had no idea it would take so long to finish it. This was simply down to the size of the book and the amount of information included. Despite concentrating on a relatively narrow period of time and primarily on the Mediterranean, there is a lot of ground to cover. While there have no doubt been advances in scholarship since this book was originally published, this is still a landmark work. The author draws on a lot of primary source material to illuminate the transition When I started this book I had no idea it would take so long to finish it. This was simply down to the size of the book and the amount of information included. Despite concentrating on a relatively narrow period of time and primarily on the Mediterranean, there is a lot of ground to cover. While there have no doubt been advances in scholarship since this book was originally published, this is still a landmark work. The author draws on a lot of primary source material to illuminate the transition between Classical Paganism to Christianity. Certainly a landmark work on this topic.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bryn Hammond

    Fascinating close-up on late paganism and early Christianity. Paganism, alas, lost the battle. I do take sides, and I felt this book does, frankly. The Christians are very often crazy, and the pagans have a wisdom you might often see here for the first time. So the upshot broke my heart. And he became my favourite historian. No doubt I do him a disservice - I'm sure he's impartial; it's because he is, because paganism gets a fair case, that I am left with a grief for what we lost.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Dambro

    Excellent description and analysis of the interplay between paganism and Christianity from the second through the fourth centuries. Dr. Fox is the premier expert on late Roman antiquity and does much to dispel the myth of a moribund paganism. He is very detailed in his exposition and clear in his analysis. One should have some background in the area because he takes much for granted.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wasabi

    Long and arduous yet somehow rewarding.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    It is with some difficulty Robin Fox's Pagans and Christians gets 3 stars. This is an ambitious, even audacious effort to honestly address the period when Christianity displaced paganism in a poorly defined area, mostly Europe, mostly the Greek portion (Eastern Europe) and some portion of North Africa. I have never read this much history that was this hard to read. The research question is: Did Christianity displace paganism as the dominate religion in Europe during the period 300-400 because of It is with some difficulty Robin Fox's Pagans and Christians gets 3 stars. This is an ambitious, even audacious effort to honestly address the period when Christianity displaced paganism in a poorly defined area, mostly Europe, mostly the Greek portion (Eastern Europe) and some portion of North Africa. I have never read this much history that was this hard to read. The research question is: Did Christianity displace paganism as the dominate religion in Europe during the period 300-400 because of success in a free market of ideas or on the edges of Constantine's sword. The answer appears to be uncertain, or incomplete or... That paragraph reflects at once Fox's inability to speak clearly and his integrity in not making conclusions where the evidence is not definitive. Fox makes a case that Christianity was trending, and may have ultimately succeed without the backing of a powerful central government. Even here his arguments are contradictory. The first 275 pages are a catastrophe. In attempting to summarize pagan practice in the pre-Christian period his text is fundamentally disorganized. Contradictions ripple not just across paragraphs, but almost down to within individual sentences. Much of the text is either over generalized or unnecessary. Many points if made at all, are never again important to the history of the period nor to the subsequent points made in reference to the hypothesis in question. Less than 100 well written pages, could have served him, and us better. Once Fox begins his history of early Christianity, the faults remain, but the results as less chaotic. Much of the last 500 pages of the book are informative and if the reader works with the writer there are things to be learned. Fox details several reasons why the traditional version of the Christianity ascendancy to majority religion before it became a national religion is not generally known. Early Christianity was extremely anti-sex. An important measure of a person’s faith was virginity. This is hardly a way to attract new believers, or to gain in numbers by procreation. More problematic was that conversion also required 3 or more years of training and observation before actual admission into the fold. Fox admits that this waiting period, and the number of ways it could be extended must have had contributed to wide-spread instances of “buyer’s remorse”. Converts who bailed out over the too many and too narrowly enforced rules. What ever their limitations, the pagan’s ran open house, with mostly open membership between temples. In addressing the official suppression of Christians Fox’s version is hard to follow. He admits to not understanding why Christians were targeted and Jews. Evan after the violent rebellions in Judea, there seems to have been no parallel attacks against Jews across the Empire. We are told, often, that Pagan religion had no dogma such that other religions had to be suppressed, yet this seems to be the only reason for targeting Christians. Perhaps violence against religious belief, and religious persons is generally illogical, but Christian’s were officially suppressed. (Yes, Fox grants that at first opportunity, Christians returned the abuse.) From many prisons, there grew both a real and faked trade in letters from imprisoned and tortured Christians exhorting other believers to ensure that their suffering was for a purpose. So influential were these religious prisoners, that they were routinely petitioned for sacred forgiveness. Further their opinions on broad religious questions were considered as purer than those written by more scholarly Christians. Questions existed because Christian doctrine was not decided in detail. It was a general tenant that all souls were equal. Slaves and Rich could achieve forgiveness. Details in practice and belief were not standardized. Conflicting documents, heresies and false prophets proliferated. It is at this level that the Emperor Constantine may have most effected epoch changing . Under his leadership and in his presence, Bishops meet and furthered the process of the creation of what was not yet a single universal Catholic Church. In fact, Fox documents, that the presumption in that title, even after Constantine. But that is another story. This one is long enough. I cannot recommend Pagans and Christians to the general reader. Religious looking for miracles and adherence to official historic summaries will be disappointed. I can only hope that serious historians of this period can lean the great quantity of useful content in this book from reading other better written books.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pinko Palest

    it was fun, but I was expecting something a bit more than that, something a bit more exciting, with such a magnificent topic. He's good, but he's no Gibbon

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I like the details…each story is told with evidence from many angles, giving a fuller picture of the events and people.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom Brennan

    Congratulate me. I finished it. Took me nearly a year, but I am a plodding fellow if need be. I haven't read a book this thick with citations/support since Edersheim, and Foxe is not nearly in the same class as a writer or a religionist. The best work I can think to describe this work is academic. It is massively supported, as evidenced by its over 100 pages of small type footnotes at the end of the volume. Its weakness is readily apparent. Foxe never uses one fact or citation when twenty will Congratulate me. I finished it. Took me nearly a year, but I am a plodding fellow if need be. I haven't read a book this thick with citations/support since Edersheim, and Foxe is not nearly in the same class as a writer or a religionist. The best work I can think to describe this work is academic. It is massively supported, as evidenced by its over 100 pages of small type footnotes at the end of the volume. Its weakness is readily apparent. Foxe never uses one fact or citation when twenty will do. Its strength is the same - an absolute abundance of carefully sourced, neutrally dispensed, unchallengeable facts. In a sense, the work reminds me of a gold mine - there is a lot of extraneous ore but if you really want to have a bunch of related nuggets at your disposal this is definitely the work for you.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    This book is a truly informative read. Lane-Fox style is really easy to read in my opinion. This is a good thing as the content at times can be heavy. If it were not for the flare of this particular author one may get bogged down in the intricacy of the detail of the study which are conducted in this work. The scope of the book covers the best part of three centuries. It encompass the relations between the Pagan World of Rome and the nascent Christian culture that was beginning to put down roots This book is a truly informative read. Lane-Fox style is really easy to read in my opinion. This is a good thing as the content at times can be heavy. If it were not for the flare of this particular author one may get bogged down in the intricacy of the detail of the study which are conducted in this work. The scope of the book covers the best part of three centuries. It encompass the relations between the Pagan World of Rome and the nascent Christian culture that was beginning to put down roots throughout the Mediterranean world at this time. In the first part of the book Lane-Fox challenges what he argues convincingly are some of the misconceptions held about late antique Pagan culture. That being that Pagan culture and with this it religious institutions were entering a twilight phase at the same time as Christianity was beginning to put down roots outside of it homeland. There is a glut of examples discussed to argue that in fact Pagan institution experienced a great resurgence in vitality in the late 2nd century. Lane-Fox achieves this through examination of sites such as the oracular temples of Apollo at Claros and Miletos as well as epigraphic evidence from various cities dedicated to numerous deities. The majority of the study would appear to focus on Asia Minor. So, one would wonder if in fact this resurgence in vitality was an isolated phenomena of Asia Minor as opposed to a pan-Mediterranean phenomena. However, that just means I'll have to investigate the subject further. I think this in and of itself is the greatest testament to the calibre of any book; that is to say it challenges the readers perceptions and prompts them to investigate the topic further! In the second section Lane-Fox examines various facets of the institutions of the Early Church; the examination involves an examination of how the Church went from being a persecuted illegal institution to become as state supported one. Lane-fox also examine themes ranging from the cult of martyrs, the cult of virgins, the importance of the apostolic succession, and finally, the Church’s relation with the state and the impacts it had on this nascent institution. This book is a good introductory read for those who want a decent overview of the topic in the sense that it covers a lot of themes with impressive index and bibliographies to assist further reading. Should definitely pick this up if you are interested in the topic! Happy Reading, Gavin Rowan

  20. 4 out of 5

    James Ward

    This is a very long book, but the author makes the subject extremely interesting - even when he's discussing what might seem to be technical academic questions, for example (in the last thirty pages or so of the book, whether such and such a speech attributed to Constantine in the 4th century really was his. What comes across fairly strongly is how relaxed paganism was compared with Christianity. Lane Fox holds that one of the major reasons the latter survived the fall of the Roman empire was its This is a very long book, but the author makes the subject extremely interesting - even when he's discussing what might seem to be technical academic questions, for example (in the last thirty pages or so of the book, whether such and such a speech attributed to Constantine in the 4th century really was his. What comes across fairly strongly is how relaxed paganism was compared with Christianity. Lane Fox holds that one of the major reasons the latter survived the fall of the Roman empire was its unprecedented insistence on doctrinal orthodoxy and the rigorous clerical organisation that enforced it. The various cults of Apollo and Asclepius just couldn't compete. Lane Fox's other interesting discovery is that early Christianity wasn't particularly missionary. After the New Testament period ended, it became much less enthusiastic in this regard. Converts tended to be made by the emigration of Christians to new areas, and mostly even then by example - especially the example of martyrs. He also makes the point that the Romans became increasingly reluctant to put Christians to death, even under the most persecuting emperors. Quite often, Christians themselves forced the hands of their persecutors, fanatically courting eternal life when they could just as easily have obtained an honourable release. Consistent with this, the Christian bishops of the second and third centuries (Lane Fox doesn't go beyond this time-frame) come across as rather childish, frequently squabbling and jostling for power. Constantine's conversion, if Fox is right, wasn't the result of an irresistible Christian tide. It was a fairly arbitrary quirk of history. Altogether, a book I'm happy to say I've read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Edward Taylor

    After reading and reviewing another book by the same author, I expected a lot more from this one than I got. The book meanders all over the place and little of it makes sense when it comes to the actual subject of the subtitle. Hell in fact; Constantine comes into the final chapter of the book and is dead with about 15 pages left over. To say I learned little would be an overstatement and suppose it would be good for a scholar, but not for the layman who wanted to learn more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ned

    After reading the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (see elsewhere) this overview of late Roman times became a new bountiful platform to view the remains that still testify to the faith of its earlier inhabitants. The physical remains that this book uses to state and clarify it's argument were an entirely new field to me. Not just the remains but their situation and their descendants, both physical and 'translated'. There are so many examples. Oh! If I had the grant money how I would love to go to sites After reading the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (see elsewhere) this overview of late Roman times became a new bountiful platform to view the remains that still testify to the faith of its earlier inhabitants. The physical remains that this book uses to state and clarify it's argument were an entirely new field to me. Not just the remains but their situation and their descendants, both physical and 'translated'. There are so many examples. Oh! If I had the grant money how I would love to go to sites in Turkey and find and explore some of the things Robin Lane Fox lists and goes into here. This gets so much respect from me as it is such a fun book to read if only for 'specialists', though it shouldn't be.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This took me forever to get through and then I didn't like it that much. I'm not sure why I think I wanted something different. I enjoyed the part of comparing views on sex and other things but a lot of it just wasn't what I wanted.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ted Milne

    A very thorough look at one of the most disruptive periods in western history. Christianity's ecclesiastical structure easily took over the more individualistic nature of the pagan world and ended up dressing itself in the "transcended" pagan robes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    I can find no better description of this vast an engaging work other than to say it is a truly magisterial and scholarly treatment of a very difficult set of topics . . . highly recommended to those interested in such things . . .

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    270.1 Lan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    Written in foot-pounds but good expose of the usurpation of the pagan ways

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jolene

    I found this book kind of interesting, but in the same sense kind of confusing.... It was a little hard to get into...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian Swanigan

    A great read on the beginning of the Christian Church.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jc

    Lane Fox, English classicist and historian, has presented humanity with a majestic, 750+ page, study of the Greco-Roman world from the second through the fourth centuries. Central to P&C is how the evolution of religion was both influenced by, and helped shape, society and history throughout the region. But beyond just demonstrating how the diverse world views of christians and pagans competed, LF finds space to talk about the everyday life of the occupants of these times, both the Lane Fox, English classicist and historian, has presented humanity with a majestic, 750+ page, study of the Greco-Roman world from the second through the fourth centuries. Central to P&C is how the evolution of religion was both influenced by, and helped shape, society and history throughout the region. But beyond just demonstrating how the diverse world views of christians and pagans competed, LF finds space to talk about the everyday life of the occupants of these times, both the aristocracy and the “regular” people. Amazing how much information is packed in here. One odd thing: the “pagan” part of the book, and the “christian” section sometimes don’t feel like they were written by the same author (but both are highly informative and interesting). P&C is not an easy read, but a fascinating, serious history of a troubled and fascinating time.

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