Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire
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Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  27 reviews
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2008

During their first millennium, Christians filled their sanctuaries with images of Christ as a living presence-as a shepherd, teacher, healer, or an enthroned god. He is serene and surrounded by lush scenes, depictions of this world as paradise. Yet once he appeared as crucified, dying was virtually all Jesus seemed able to do,...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Beacon Press (first published July 15th 2007)
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Carole Stone
Saving Paradise turned my take on the Gospel upside down. The good news is Life, not Death, and so followers of Jesus lived it for the first thousand years since his birth. They adorned their sacred spaces with paintings of the Good Shepherd caring for his flock amidst hills and meadows, rocks and trees and flowing rivers. They strove to better the earthly lives of all around them.

Only after Charlesmagne turned their lives into a living hell, did the Saxon followers of Jesus carve the first cruc...more
Rickmi
Jul 17, 2009 Rickmi is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: taking-break
I am tremendously impressed by this truly extraordinary book - and author Rita Nakashima Brock. She is speaking and leading Bible study at Baptist Peace Conference in Ogden, UT, July 20-25, 2009, and we are looking forward to hearing her and learning further insights into the underlying theology.
Carrie
This is a primary text for those promoting the incarnation as the mover of post-colonial, post- modern, eco-feminist biblical scholarship and social justice. It is my core reference source of connecting past with the future and intersitial space as a resting place.
Gary
109 Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker, Beacon Press, Boston, 2008
Prologue
XVI
We worked to understand the world of early Christianity not as the literate few knew it ut as the visually literate many knew it when they worshipped in churches and recited memorized scriptures and creeds. For them visual art and poetic and narrative literature, found in prayers, stories, psalms, and hymns, shaped Christia...more
Kim Langley
Several of us heard R. N. Brock speak, and were blown away by her ability to process mounds of history and theology into fascinating patterns that made sense to us. We bought the book and formed a book group, and every minute of reading this substantial book has been worth it...Brock is a good story teller, and a fine writer, and the truth telling...this is not the version of christian history we learned in school...feels so right and balanced as well...there's lot's here to intrigue, to rouse,...more
Jacob
"It took Jesus a thousand years to die. Images of his corpse did not appear in churches until the tenth century." Those are the first lines of the book's prologue, which continues, "Why not? This question set us off on a five-year pilgrimage that led to this book." (ix) From this and the book's back cover, I anticipated an interesting look at the church's first iconography, artwork, and what they tell us about early Christian belief. Unfortunately, only about 20% of the book's content is focused...more
Zrinka
First of all, this was recommended to me by goodreads, and I was really surprised at how much I liked it. Be careful goodreads, my expectations are up!
To mention all the ideas that interested and intrigued me would be like writing this book anew, so I'm just going to note some things that caught my attention.
I loved gluing together bits and pieces of sometimes incoherent fragments of history from I got textbook and novels, following the authors "alternate" take on the history of Western Christia...more
Elsa
After their first collaborative writing, I was eager to read this book and though it took me 6 months to finish it was rather enjoyable. Through the theological evolution of Paradise from the early to modern church, Brock and Parker offer a charge to Christians that is compelling and empowering. Each chapter marks a particular time in history -- though I wish that each chapter linked more closely to the previous themes on Paradise. I wanted it to be more cohesive which it may have been had I not...more
Rick
While the authors tend to move towards a defense of Unitarian Universalism at the end, they make an interesting case for the transformation of early Christianity from a gospel that preached the possibility of earthly paradise and communal celebration to a religion of death, martyrdom and morbidity. I had thought that Der Heliand, a Saxon representation of Jesus as a warrior god was a reflection of brutal Germanic culture. Their take on it, that it was veiled protest against the repression of Cha...more
Mikecook2158
This book is a must-read for every Christian! Beginning with the simple observation that the crucifix does not show up in any Christian art before 900 AD, these two brilliant scholars unfold a story of two Christianities, one which affirms and celebrates the presence of God in the midst of paradise, the other which centers on death and guilt. Brilliant!
Ellen
I just came back from a weekend with Rebecca Parker at Rowe Conference Center based this paradigm-shattering book! It has made a huge difference in my own theological viewpoint and I LOVE the footnotes, history geek that I am..... Gonna try to build some thoughtful lay worship around the concepts in this book, so watch out world!
Joy
Sep 26, 2008 Joy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have eagerly awaited this book since hearing Nakashima-Brock speak at an event in July 2007 (she had just finished the final version). Now to get a copy and clear time for it. What she has been "preaching" and writing on this subject for the last few years (again) fundamentally changes ones perspective. It is the Good News.
Jeannine
Images of Jesus' crucifixion did not appear in churches until the tenth century. Why not? The crucified Christ is so important to Western Christianity, how could it be that images of his suffering and death were absent from early churches? With these questions began a five year pilgrimage for the authors.
Inelle
This is an amazing book and a must read for those interested in the development of Christian theology in the Western world. Based on solid scholarship, this book challenges us to explore our religious roots and to understand the political and personal effects of the theology of redemptive violence.
Chris Weakley
This is a great book. It was a very illuminating read and how art reflects transformations in Christian world view and how our focus changed by various external forces. It has its dense moments and I will probably come back to it and get more from another reading, but I found it fascinating.
Adam
Brock and Parker do the same thing for Christian history as Howard Zinn did for American history. The version of Christianity they have resurrected deconstructs 1500 years of imperial crap that the Christian tradition has become polluted with. Read this book. Everyone. Now.
Julie
Apr 04, 2013 Julie marked it as to-read
Some friends and I heard Rita Brock speak. She was charming and gives a refreshing insight on the history of Christianity. Yes, totally life giving. We decided to read it together over a few sessions....
Kerenmcc
I love the cover and the idea holding this book together but I am so disappointed the focus is academic rather than a practitioner level.
This is a book talking about art without dwelling in it!
Roussie
Not an easy read but fascinating to see how humans twisted the gift of a god of love into a god who supported bloodshed in the name of converting the enemy into believing in a god of love.
Becky
Didn't actually finish reading this book but heard the author speak at a full day presentation. Very important and interesting scholarship!
Marcia
I'm reading this now - not very far into it. I'm fascinated and would love to discuss it with someone!
MVR
A skillful retelling of Christian history/theology. Rita Nakashima Brock is visiting my class on October 2!
Zazie
Great book for understanding the origins of violence and suffering in the bible and religion in general.
Patricia Joynton
I have read the review of others and: nuff said. Good summaries.

Very Interesting book.
Raven
Informative, but a little too analytic and distant for my taste.
Paulette
Jun 15, 2011 Paulette marked it as want-to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Karen.
Sharon
Aug 16, 2008 Sharon is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Just got this and am very excited to start reading
Mike Garner
Mike Garner is currently reading it
Jul 16, 2014
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