Synopses & Reviews
A radical and powerful reappraisal of the impact of Constantine’s adoption of Christianity on the later Roman world, and on the subsequent development both of Christianity and of Western civilization.
When the Emperor Contstantine converted to Christianity in 368 AD, he changed the course of European history in ways that continue to have repercussions to the present day. Adopting those aspects of the religion that suited his purposes, he turned Rome on a course from the relatively open, tolerant and pluralistic civilization of the Hellenistic world, towards a culture that was based on the rule of fixed authority, whether that of the Bible, or the writings of Ptolemy in astronomy and of Galen and Hippocrates in medicine. Only a thousand years later, with the advent of the Renaissance and the emergence of modern science, did Europe begin to free itself from the effects of Constantine's decision, yet the effects of his establishment of Christianity as a state religion remain with us, in many respects, today. Brilliantly wide-ranging and ambitious, this is a major work of history.
"A vigorous study of the death and rebirth of empirical thought in the Western tradition.... A lucid, accessible contribution to intellectual history, and a worthy companion to Elaine Pagels's recent Beyond Belief." Kirkus Reviews
"Freeman tells an entertaining story, and on the way produces an
excellent and readable account of the development of Christian doctrine." Anthony Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] fine book for a popular audience that enjoys history, clear writing and subject matter that reflects on our own time, when fundamentalist superstition of all types threatens the exercise of that which makes us human, reason." Houston Chronicle
"Freeman repeats an oft-told tale of the rise of Christianity and the supposed demise of philosophy in a book that is fascinating, frustrating and flawed." Publishers Weekly
"[T]he product of [Freeman's] frustration with the early church this book is simply too impressively erudite to dismiss as polemic or, indeed, to set down." Booklist
"A lucid, accessible contribution to intellectual history." Kirkus Reviews
Includes bibliographical references (p. -416) and index.
About the Author
Charles Freeman is the author of The Greek Achievement (1999) and Egypt, Greece, Rome (1997).