Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World” as Want to Read:
God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  406 ratings  ·  95 reviews
“The Inquisition is a dark mark in the history of the Catholic Church. But it was not the first inquisition nor the last, as Cullen Murphy shows in this far-ranging, informed, and (dare one say?) witty account of its reach down to our own time, in worldly affairs more than ecclesiastical ones.” — Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, former editor, Commonweal

The Inquisition conducte
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about God's Jury, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about God's Jury

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,104)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Bill  Kerwin

Murray's book is a brief, impressionistic survey of the various Inquisitions pursued by the Catholic Church: the Medieval (mid-13th century to roughly the mid-14th)), the Spanish (late 15th Century to mid-19th), and the Roman (mid-sixteenth century to the present). The Medieval was waged against the Cathari of Southern France, the Spanish against heretical “conversos” (former Muslims and Jews), and the Roman against the explosion of suspicious print material in the post-Gutenberg age. In additio
Webster Bull
I don’t know about you, but I want to understand the Inquisition. I’m only four years a convert, and still in love with the Catholic Church, so I want to understand why anyone would not love it. It’s like falling in love with a girl at school and then hearing things about her in the locker room. You want to get to the bottom of things.

By my count, the Church has received four big black marks from non-Catholic historians and kibitzers. I understand two of them: the Crusades (no issue) and the pri
This is an exceptional and important vision of the Inquisition that illustrates the relationship between the justifications being offered for torture in the modern United States. What is so appalling, is that the Spanish Inquisition, after its initial fury under Tomas Torquemada, became significantly more moderate than, for example, the process of extreme rendition as it has been practiced in our time. It is startling to see the examples he offers of the parallels between Inquisitorial interroga ...more
Dan Petegorsky
Meh. For me this one should have been either a lot more or a lot less. I’d expected a more illuminating account of what we now know about the Inquisitions, with lessons for today. But the actual historical sections are pretty cursory, while the contemporary parts are all too familiar for anyone who follows the news. It’s more or less a long essay on how the inquisitional impulse continues in the bureaucratized national security state, and how strongly religious and political intolerance continue ...more
"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." At least so says Monty Python. And who knew that the Spanish inquisition was one of many inquisitions? In this fascinating history, Cullen Murphy tells us not only about the inquisition in Spain, and many others that are less well known -- certainly not well known enough to be the subject of Monty Python jokes about the "comfy couch" torture anyway. Murphy doesn't stop with history though, and brings the reader up to date. Right up to Guantanamo and the ...more
Cullen Murphy’s 2012 book, “God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World” is not a dry academic tome on a phenomenon that happened centuries ago. It is a lively and well-written look at the Inquisition and how its intellectual rationale forms the basis for the mass repression and state-sponsored violence that plagued the 20th century and continues into this century.
“There were many inquisitions,” Murphy explains, dividing this intermittent 700-year religious persecution spons
Very interesting premise that is flawlessly documented. The information on the Inquisitions (there were several) alone is worth reading. The parallels to modern events are as chilling as Orwell's 1984. During an interview the author speculated if someone in the US during the 50's was told that in the near future torture would be sanctioned by law they would be appalled. Yet, thanks to the Bush administration, that's exactly what happened.

During an interview with NPR the author says, "There isn't
Jason Golomb
“God’s Jury” author Cullen Murphy spent a lot of time in archives while researching this book. He writes extensively on the mad amounts of Inquisition-related documentation that exists world wide, much of which is only recently being uncovered and researched. Some documents are surprisingly damning in their straightforward accounting of the mechanisms of its own atrocities.

What Cullen makes clear is that the Inquisitions (and they can be categorized into multiple phases) weren't just an effort
Inquisition Fun Facts: There were really three Inquisitions: the Medieval Inquisition (1241), the Spanish Inquisition (late 15th C.), and the Roman Inquisition (16th C.)
The Medieval was set against the Cathars of France. Cathars were dualists who believed that a good God could not be responsible for the eveil in the world. So, Evil mush have been a separate creation. (Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code invokes the Cathars).
The Spanish was run almost entirely by the King and Queen of Spain (Fer. and Isabe
God's Jury is an interesting, if rather too thinly detailed, history of the Inquisition, combined with an extensive contextualization of Inquisitorial institutions in history, from the Church to England, Germany, the Soviet Union and right down to the present day US government and Guantanamo Bay. I enjoyed it for its historical presentation of the Inquisition, and for the historical contextualization. Murphy reminds us that there were really three Inquisitions, the Medieval, the Spanish and the ...more
Admittedly, I was listening to the audio version as I have found myself taking several long car rides recently. This book has been on my list for a while because I'm a bit of a historical sucker for the Inquisition and it's not too often you find a popular history book about the Inquisition that isn't just a bit sensationalized or focused on methods of torture. Instead, Murphy focuses on the multiple methodologies of the Inquisition(s) and does a solid job of relating it's foundational bureaucra ...more
I couldn't finish it. It didn't seem to have any sort of organization, just meandering from topic to topic. There was plenty of scene-setting, describing in boring detail what a certain spot looks like today, where something important happened 800 years ago, while information about the Inquisition is put on the back burner (you know, that tedious New Yorker stuff), or a lengthy digression about some small point that two scholars disagree over, complete with a physical description of one of the s ...more
Well written and accessible. A touch too flippant in parts. Discussing Dolores Umbridge in the same context as Torquemada was probably ill-advised (my love of Harry Potter books notwithstanding).

What was most interesting to me was the idea that inquisitions are moral exercises rather than just wanton sadism...though the two are not mutually exclusive. Perpetrators, back in the day as well as in our own time, are so certain of their position that they will countenance the most tortuous twists of
Excellent explanation of how the Inquisition's tactics and organization led to, and influenced, government intelligence techniques used (and taken for granted) today.

Explains how the inquisition was directly responsible for modern concepts such as bureaucracy, surveillance, and even archives!

Very fun read, though a bit paranoid in its final pages.
This book traces the history of the Inquisition, and shows how the methods of the Inquisition continue today in secular form. That is because the methods of the Inquisition are essentially the methods of a state bureaucracy. Very interesting read. The most salient point I take from it is to beware of moral certitude: moral certitude can justify anything.
Steve Anderson
God’s Jury does what it sets out to do, and does it very well. Cullen Murphy explores not only the human instinct toward righteousness that leads to the suppression, even eradication of those with different points of view, but as well the attributes of organizations which enable inquisition to survive over time. He points out that the horrors of inquisition inflicted by one upon another, however terrible they may be, may not even be its greatest cost. The deliberate suppression of ideas during t ...more
Harley Gee
I never thought of the Inquisition as anything but a glaring example of wrongheadedness of censorship from a distant time. But Murphy offers a lot more. As subtitle states, Murphy builds the case for the pervasive influence of the Inquisition in shaping not only religious doctrine but in the development the modern state, particularly as it relates to security in recent and current times.

He segments the historical stages of the Inquisition into first the creation of a formal organization for det
Beth G.
In our imaginations, we offhandedly associate the term "inquisition" with the term "Dark Ages." But consider what an inquisition - any inquisition - really is: a set of disciplinary procedures targeting specific groups, codified in law, organized systematically, enforced by surveillance, exemplified by severity, sustained over time, backed by institutional power, and justified by a vision of the one true path. considered that way, the Inquisition is more accurately viewed not as a relic but as ...more
Margaret Sankey
This is a wide-ranging tour of the cultural life of the Inquisition--Murphy interleaves experiences working in the Vatican archives of the Inquisition (opened fairly recently, and only very recently provided with a modern archivist to manage it's idiosyncratic filing system) with references to the Inquisition in modern political speech (how could Kenneth Starr NOT know what the Spanish Inquisition was?), Occitan Cathar-themed tourism, interviews with historians who have worked with the subject ( ...more
God’s Jury is a fast paced, sometimes humorous and generally well-written romp through history examining the concept of the Inquisition. When I picked it up, I assumed it was just about the Inquisition. While it certainly covers this, it moves beyond it and touches on related issues like censorship and surveillance as well. Cullen Murphy ignores chronology and thematic organization in favor of exploring connected ideas in very rapid succession. You find yourself hopscotching through centuries an ...more
Quick: what do Monty Python, Tomas de Torquemada, Guantanamo, the Cathars, Ferdinand and Isabella, Galileo, Queens Elizabeth and Mary, and Pope Benedict XVI all have in common? The answer, of course, is "The Inquisition," and as the subtitle of this book indicates, Cullen Murphy believes that that long-ago horror had profound effects on us today.

God's Jury is that rare and excellent piece of non-fiction, scholarly yet breezily and beautifully written by someone who believes that he has something
The author provided an interesting history of the Inquisition, giving it credit for developing an archival system for storage and retrieval of documents unmatched in its time and which served as the forerunner to all library systems since. I knew that its purpose was to root out heresy, where the church felt it needed to be purged. I did not know that local Inquisitions, such as those of Spain and Portugal, used the Inquisition apparatus to rid their countries of jews and "crypto-jews," people o ...more
Read this for the Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library's History Book Club. I did not feel well enough to go to the actual Book Club and discuss the book... :-( ...but thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved all the information on archives and how the records of the Inquisition were scattered, destroyed, preserved, and recaptured throughout history. As a historian, I find all the parallels drawn between the Inquisition(s) and current events to be a bit anachronistic. But as a gener ...more
Keith Parrish
In this book, Cullen Murphy takes a look at the origins and history of the Inquisition an its impact on the modern world. Murphy brings out several surprising facts including that the Inquisition was not officially shut down until the 20th century and that people were still executed by its authority as late as the 1840's and in far-flung places like modern day New Mexico. The more intriguing parts of the book however are the parallels he draws between the establishment, organization, and operati ...more
May 14, 2013 Sean added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kevin W. Jerrell
Horrible Book

If you want a book that tells you a lot of nothing...this is it. If you want a book detailing the Inquisition...this is not the book. It speaks little of technique used during this time. It is mainly about the participant's motives. Also, considering that 45% of the book is notes and acknowledgements, it is definitely not worth the money (although I was longing to get to the end before I was a quarter of the way through it).
Norman Baxter
This is an unsettling book which draws a clear connection from the Inquisition to the construction of the national security state in the United States and around the world. United by the human bugbear of certainty at all times and in all places, nations around the world have adopted the methodology of the Inquisition to attain a dubious security. A thoughtful and excellent read that is well worth your time.
Karen Cox
Mar 21, 2012 Karen Cox rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs.
Recommended to Karen by: National Public Radio
Murphy provides a fair-minded survey of the various Inquisitions for the non-expert reader. (That would be me.) His main point in the book is that Inquisitions are essentially modern and not some holdover from the days of superstitions. Reliable communication over long distances and reliable methods of record - keeping were necessary for the Inquisitions to exist in the first place, and their existence encouraged more and better communication and records. One of the best ironies ever is that alm ...more
Interesting discussion of the the Medieval, Roman and Spanish/Portuguese Inquisitions and the effects that are still in force today. The Vatican archives regarding the Inquisitions were made public a few years ago and the author relates how detailed the Inquisition records are. The comment is made - with some irony - that we would know very little of the history of the times without these records. This very organized persecution developed forms of interrogation and censorship that are with us to ...more
This book is an interesting, easy to read cultural history of the Inquisition (or should I said "Inquisitions"). it's not a detailed history of the events, causes and immediate aftermath. Rather the book's focus is showing how the legacy of the Inquisitions remains present for and influential for modern society: think of things like institutional structures, meticulous record keeping, justifications for the use of torture to extract confessions, absolute convictions about being right but others ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 36 37 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History
  • Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel
  • Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology
  • The Dream and the Tomb: A History of the Crusades
  • Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy
  • The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Spectacular Death of the Medieval Cathars
  • A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization
  • Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse
  • The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life
  • Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race
  • Invisible Romans
  • God's Lunatics: Lost Souls, False Prophets, Martyred Saints, Murderous Cults, Demonic Nuns, and Other Victims of Man's Eternal Search for the Divine
  • Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on the Titanic
  • The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics
  • The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy
  • Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center
  • The First Crusade: A New History
  • Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, a Robot Named Scorch . . . and What It Takes to Win
John Cullen Murphy, Jr. (born September 1, 1952) is an American writer and editor probably best known for his work at The Atlantic, where he served as managing editor (1985–2002) and editor (2002-2006).

He was born in New Rochelle, New York, and grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was educated at Amherst College, from which he graduated with honors in medieval history in 1974. Murphy's first maga
More about Cullen Murphy...
Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America The Word According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own Just Curious The Regent's Daughter Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage

Share This Book

“The important question to ask is why these bodies are allowed to exist. If a country such as Spain allowed a repressive body like the Inquisition to exist for four hundred years, it is not because the Inquisition forced itself on the Spanish nation. It is because the Spaniards allowed it to exist.” 0 likes
More quotes…