Synopses & Reviews
In this provocative, irresistibly entertaining book, Keith Hopkins takes readers back in time to explore the roots of Christianity in ancient Rome. Combining exacting scholarship with dazzling invention, Hopkins challenges our perceptions about religion, the historical Jesus, and the way history is written. He puts us in touch with what he calls "empathetic wonder"-imagining what Romans, pagans, Jews, and Christians thought, felt, experienced, and believed-by employing a series of engaging literary devices. These include a TV drama about the Dead Sea Scrolls; the first-person testimony of a pair of time-travelers to Pompeii; a meditation on Jesus' apocryphal twin brother; and an unusual letter on God, demons, and angels.
Evokes the sights and sounds of the ancient world with daring and imagination... .An intellectual tour-de-force that challenges us to see the history of Christianity through the eyes of those who actually lived it. (The Los Angeles Times)
... delightful romp through the oddities of Roman religious experience" (The Washington Post Book World).
Imaginative ... gripping ... the world of antiquity comes remarkably alive. (The New York Times Book Review)
Richly readable and thought-provoking... . It is not enough for Hopkins to tell you about the ancient world, he wants you to be there ... an achievement. (The London Review of Books)
In this provocative book, Hopkins takes readers back in time to explore the roots of Christianity in ancient Rome. Combining scholarship with invention, he challenges perceptions about religion, the historical Jesus, and the way history is written.
About the Author
Keith Hopkins is a professor of ancient history at King's College, Cambridge, and a fellow of the British Academy.
Table of Contents
One: A World Full of Gods
(Time travel in pagan Pompeii; the Roman context of Christianity)
Two: Jews and Christians, or, How the Dead Sea Scrolls Were Found and Lost
(Narrative and drama in three scenes about Jews, Christians, history, and us)
Three: The Christian Revolution
(Christian character and evolution: persecutors, martyrs, and bishops)
Four: Jesus and His Twin Brother
(Varieties of early Christianity; the apocryphal New Testament)
Five: Magic, Temple Tales, and Oppressive Power
(The time travelers continue: Egypt, Syria, and Ephesus)
Six: Pagans vs. Christians vs. Jews
(Competing stories in a semi-intellectual discussion of differences)
Seven: Recreating the Cosmos
(Creation in Jewish, Gnostic, and Manichean thought)
Eight: Jesus and the New Testament, or, The Construction of a Sacred Hero
(Jesus in the gospels and after)
Selective Index of Proper Names