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The Christians and the Fall of Rome (Great Ideas)

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  15 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published September 6th 2005 by Penguin (first published 1776)
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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.
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Christian Faith managed to get a foothold over the Mediterranean in Syria, Palestine and Rome, and how it then later superseded the old Polytheist Pagan beliefs, most notably with Emperor Constantine whom adopted the faith for the official Roman Empire.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 ...more
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
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
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 ...more
Ashley Rindsberg
Gibbon got style.
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"
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 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
Some of this is brilliant and scathing, Gibbon's pretty bold in his criticism of organised religion which is admirable/entertaining to read given context. I can definitely see how Decline and Fall can take someone a good time to read through, though. Not sure if it's just due to scant sleep or genuine disinterest at times, but I found it hard to read without a bajillion breaks.
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.
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.
Amber Berry
Apr 24, 2012 Amber Berry marked it as to-read
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.
Simon Lee
I love his mindset
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Edward Gibbon (8 May 1737 – 16 January 1794) was an English historian and Member of Parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. The Decline and Fall is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its open criticism of organised religion.

Gibbon returned to England
More about Edward Gibbon...

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“it is always easy, as well as agreeable, for the the inferior ranks of mankind to claim a merit from the contempt of that pomp and pleasure, which fortune has placed beyond their reach. The virtue of the primitive Christians, like that of the first Romans, was very frequently guarded by poverty and ignorance.” 5 likes
“it was much less dangerous for the disciples of Christ to neglect the observance of the moral duties, than to despise the censures and authority of their bishops.” 4 likes
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