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Pagans and Christians

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  187 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Fox recreates the period from the 2nd to the 4th century, when the Olympians lost their dominion & Christianity, with Constantine's conversion, triumphed in the Mediterranean world.
List of Maps
Pagans & Christians
Pagans & their cities
Pagan cults
Seeing the gods
Language of the gods
The spread of Christianity
Living like angels
Visions & prophecy
Published 1986 by Penguin Books Ltd.
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Erik Graff
Aug 27, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
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 conv...more
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...more
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...more
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 Nic...more
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 i...more
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 sprea...more
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.
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 vir...more
J.J. 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...more
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...more
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 i...more
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.
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.
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 . . .
Tyrell Warner
The beautiful pagan cultures of former Roman territory were sadly replaced by masses of crazed, self-repressive cult members.

This book does a great job illustrating this fact.
I found this book kind of interesting, but in the same sense kind of confusing.... It was a little hard to get into...
Written in foot-pounds but good expose of the usurpation of the pagan ways
Brian Swanigan
A great read on the beginning of the Christian Church.
Long and arduous yet somehow rewarding.
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Robin Lane Fox (born 1946) is an English historian, currently a Fellow of New College, Oxford and University of Oxford Reader in Ancient History.

Lane Fox was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford.

Since 1977, he has been a tutor in Greek and Roman history, and since 1990 University Reader in Ancient History. He has also taught Greek and Latin literature and early Islamic history, a subject...more
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