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The Age of Faith (The Story of Civilization #4)

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  673 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
The Age of Faith surveys the medieval achievements and modern significance of Christian, Islamic, and Judaic life and culture. Like the other volumes in The Story of Civilization, this is a self-contained work, which at the same time fits into a comprehensive history of mankind. It includes the dramatic stories of St. Augustine, Hypatia, Justinian, Mohammed, Harun al-Rashi ...more
Hardcover, 1196 pages
Published 1950 by Simon & Schuster
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Best Middle Ages Books
246th out of 942 books — 1,179 voters
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5th out of 84 books — 21 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,687)
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Apr 26, 2016 Lotz rated it it was amazing
Several months ago, I had a little debate with a friend of mine, who is studying history, about the Middle Ages. I was arguing, I’m sorry to say, a simplistic and stereotyped version of that period. I noted that the science of the day was almost wholly derived from Aristotle and other classical philosophers; that Galen, a Roman physician, was still considered the major authority of medicine; that philosophy was so intermingled with theology as to be wholly compromised. My friend pointed out to m ...more
Jan 23, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I picked this up thinking I ought to know more about medieval history, and now by God I know more about medieval history. Quite a lot more, really. The fact that I retain so much of such a long book says a lot about Durant's skills as a writer. I especially enjoyed his commentary and aides, though: Sweeping generalizations that, however quotable, no editor would permit today; bits of color to liven up the narrative; no attempt at an overarching thesis. Since he finished the book in 1946 I am sur ...more
Sep 08, 2013 Petrea rated it really liked it
As a part of my bucket list I'm slowly making my way through all these volumes--I would read them faster but they are so heavy I really have a hard time holding up the book while reading in bed--so I have to read sitting up, which I don't have much time for. I love these books and really enjoy his witty style. I wonder how many experts and linguists must have helped him put all this information together. This volume covers Christian, Jewish and Muslim development from the 300s AD. to the 1300s-- ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 15, 2013 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Westerners
Recommended to Erik by: no one
High school history classes, beyond brief surveys of antique civilizations, took off in the early modern era, focusing on revolutions such as those in the Americas, France and Russia. The college history courses I attended refined this focus to early modern Europe and Russian revolutionary movements in particular. My knowledge of late antiquity and the European middle ages was scanty until seminary, when church history courses awakened an interest in what, for me, had truly been 'dark ages'.

Ezra Hood
Sep 27, 2014 Ezra Hood rated it really liked it
Shelves: western-civ
Here're a few of the pithy quotes from this volume (the full list exceed the max characters allowed in these reviews!)
• In a developed civilization nothing can equal the free man’s varying wage, salary, or profit as an economic stimulus. IV-29
• Eloquence is seldom accurate. IV-31
• Every civilization is a fruit from the sturdy tree of barbarism, and falls at the greatest distance from the trunk. IV-31
• If art is the organization of materials, the Roman Catholic Church is among the most imposing m
Nov 20, 2014 Gary rated it it was amazing
This book is my favorite book I've listened to all year. Most books I listen to are because I want to find our place in the universe and how we got where we are. This book does that better than any book I've listened to this year.

The author ties the pieces of the history covered together as a coherent whole. The period of time covered is from about 330 AD (Constantin's son) to about 1315 (Dante), and makes the listener understand how the events led to the making of Modern Europe and explains how
Antonio Nunez
Sep 11, 2014 Antonio Nunez rated it it was amazing
At the risk of becoming tiresome, I must say Durant again surpasses himself in the fourth volume of his magnum opus, The Age of Faith. It is a history from late antiquity (circa Constantine) to the early fourteenth century. I expect he covers the One Hundred Years War and the Black Plague in volume V. In such a panoramic view it is hard to focus in particularly points to comment. I'll say that his coverage of the birth and spread of Islam is superb (including Islamic Spain and Sicily), as well a ...more
May 30, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing
Many of those of us "of a certain age" have had sets of the Durant's famous history of civilization on our bookshelves for well...decades. They are as faithful a companion as our music or our quills (remember I did say "Of a certain age") Still, I wonder how many of us have really slowly worked our way through any of the volumes, instead of using them as an Everyman's Historical Almanac? Well, I'm proud to say I have just accomplished that feat...for one volume anyway. As usual, I'm overwhelmed ...more
Andrew Obrigewitsch
Wow, there is some much in the book it's amazing. This series mind opening and helps to dispel many false ideas that are being spread about today in popular media about history.

One small part of this book covers the history of Islam, the Arab nations where the highest civilization before they where pretty much destroyed by the Mongols.

Recommended to all.
Margy Macmillan
Jul 10, 2007 Margy Macmillan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone intersted in history
This is part of a very readable series that I'm currently reading 9very slowly) over breakfast. It's filling in lots of details in my background knowledge of the Middle Ages, is well written and presents a nice balance between great deeds of great men and daily life of more ordinary folk. It is of it's time - some of the views of women, sexuality, race, religion etc are, well, understandably dated. However because of this the descriptions of the origins of Islam are clearer and more balanced tha ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
May 21, 2011 Marts (Thinker) marked it as shelved
Shelves: history
Volume four of the eleven volume 'Story of Civilisation' by Will and Ariel Durant. The volume focuses on medieval history...
Nov 28, 2013 Alan rated it really liked it
Durant provides so much detail that your brain gets full and you take a break. This one took a very long-time to get through. This book provided a perspective of continuity across four civilizations: Classic, Christian, Islamic, and Jewish. The perspectives of the Islamic and Jewish were especially interesting as these early periods were new to me. As with the earlier volumes, I very much enjoyed the mini-biographies of Abelard, who I knew about but never appreciated, and Roger Bacon’s teacher R ...more
Bob Nichols
Jul 13, 2011 Bob Nichols rated it it was amazing
This Durant volume takes the reader from the tail of the Roman Empire to the 13th century, primarily in Christendom Europe.

In this Age when faith and orthodoxy ruled, St. Augustine was its most powerful voice Durant says. Augustine allowed earthly cities, but life there was secondary to the divine city "of the one true God." Augustine gave "a definitive stamp to catholic theology," Durant continues, "giving it a Neoplatonic tinge." Augustine formulated "the claim of the Church to supremacy over
James Violand
Jun 29, 2014 James Violand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Shelves: own
This review applies to all Durant's History of Civilization. The author does not follow a strictly chronological approach, but emphasizes those events/personages that have developed our Western civilization. He tends to emphasize certain personalities - some of whom I take exception to - but he stresses those things which make Western man unique. The arts have a prominent place in developing our culture and Durant convinces the reader how important they are.
Barry Belmont
Aug 13, 2014 Barry Belmont rated it it was amazing
For a review, consider just this single sentence within a single paragraph buried deep within this massive tome: "Above all, the world needed a creed that would balance tribulation with hope, soften bereavement with solace, redeem the prose of toil with the poetry of belief, cancel life’s brevity with continuance, and give an inspiring and ennobling significance to a cosmic drama that might else be a meaningless and intolerable procession of souls, species, and stars stumbling one by one into an ...more
May 12, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An elegant, mildly urbane reading by Rudnicki of a doorstopper I first read as a teenager. It's held up reasonably well, but I think it loses a star for being too forgiving of contemporary attitudes toward women and working classes. Also, I suspect that over the past 65 or so years there have been some significant historical and literary discoveries, and so the work is likely a bit dated.
Bruce Fred Knotts
Jun 14, 2015 Bruce Fred Knotts rated it it was amazing
This is a really great book and my favorite of Will Durant's books so far. He outlines the development of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All developed diverse and important ideas and then ossified into dogmatic and rather oppressive forms that we mostly live with today. I hope we can return to the intellectual exploitative creativity of the more formative years of religious traditions when religions still were curious. Would that we could all remain curious explorers, ready to learn and test n ...more
Billy Sheppard
Dec 03, 2015 Billy Sheppard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the unabridged audiobook which brought the 1,000+ pages of this great work to life for me. I have spent many days listening to a master story teller, historian and philosopher describe better than 1,000 years of life on earth and now I see my own world differently. Everything I see in the news seems to me to be deliberately manipulated and over-simplified. I understand my life in 2015 better after 61 hours of "The Age of Faith" than after an equivalent amount of current news. This ...more
Jun 12, 2011 Suby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Will Durant has put in painstaking research into this volume too same as in the previous three I have read. The book was first published in 1949. The chapters on Islam and Judaism are revealing. It is hard to get books on Islam without reference to terrorism these days. Still Durant manages to show us where the terrorism factor originates in the Koran.
Same with Durant's remark that all the persecution that Jews had to undergo was just because one man was crucified centuries ago!
The history of c
Lori (Lara Britt) Sailiata
I grew up with Ariel and Will Durant nestled next to the leather bound Encyclopaedia Britannica. I've picked through the series dipping into it out of curiosity or out of academic necessity. With the audiobook version, I'm now breezing through the series at a rapid pace. Too rapidly if it were my first exposure to the Durants or the material. Perhaps perfect for remembering and reconnecting events and ideas. No matter the speed, the series satisfies and illuminates. Although much has changed in ...more
Michael Mahoney
Great book on the early history in Rome.
Oct 07, 2014 Sherlene rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
Fabulous book on history from 300-1300 AD. I have a much better understanding of what happened in the days following Christ's advent and death and how Christianity took the world by storm. Christianity did not have a very good testimony in the later years of that time. So many people were forced into service then being wooed with the love Jesus wanted His followers to impart.

Definitely recommend reading.
Jul 08, 2015 Charles rated it really liked it
Will Durant is one of those lords of philosophical history, or what is history is in the Greek mind - political philosophy (see Herodotus).

The so called "age of faith" spans the time from Julian "the apostate" (mid-4th century) to Dante Alighieri (early 14th century), the former an emperor, the latter a poet and statesman. Again, this is a history of ideas and the movement of those ideas. And so, given the years this history attempts to cover, this is primarily a study of Christianity, Judaism,
David K.
Apr 13, 2011 David K. is currently reading it
1,086O pages not counting index etc..Oh boy! Volume 4 is the real meat of this series, at least for me. It focuses on the era between the fall of Rome and the rise of Dante. A fascinating period in western and mid-eastern history when our nascent nations and peoples of today came together. This is the volume that most spark my young interest in early medieval history. Can't f'n wait!!
Nov 19, 2009 Eremite rated it it was amazing
Goodreads says it took me 456 days to read this book. But it was so worth it. It was a pleasure to read and I learned tons about Medieval history. The details fade but I'm left with a much firmer grasp of the fundamental causes, effects and legacy of the Age of Faith. And how they relate to where Western cultural is today and where it's going.
Troy Soos
Dec 20, 2009 Troy Soos rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Durant again does a thorough job, but I didn't find the book as interesting as the previous ones in the series. I simply don't care much about all the religious material. (If this book was a stand-alone, it's unlikely that I would have read it at all.) But now I'll be happy to go on to volume 5 of his Story of Civilization: the Renaissance.
Jul 30, 2012 Dad rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Durant skillfully presents the period in his usual thorough style. Extremely readable without being dumbed down.
Nov 28, 2013 Kaye rated it it was amazing
Shelves: znon-fiction, history
These are such good books. I continue to be amazed by the quality of the writing. On to the Renaissance!
May 22, 2010 Ruth rated it liked it
Medieval Civilization rom Constantine to Dante - 325 to 1300. 1196 pages. Donated to the library 2010 March.
Aug 04, 2013 Dan rated it it was amazing
If you are going to read history, start with Will Duran'ts Story of Civilization. Four down; six to go!
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William James Durant was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for the 11-volume The Story of Civilization, written in collaboration with his wife Ariel and published between 1935 and 1975. He was earlier noted for his book, The Story of Philosophy, written in 1926, which was considered "a groundbreaking work that helped to popularize philosophy."

They were awarde
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Other Books in the Series

The Story of Civilization (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Our Oriental Heritage (The Story of Civilization, #1)
  • The Life of Greece (The Story of Civilization, #2)
  • Caesar and Christ (Story of Civilization, #3)
  • The Renaissance (The Story of Civilization, #5)
  • The Reformation (The Story of Civilization, #6)
  • The Age of Reason Begins (The Story of Civilization, #7)
  • The Age of Louis XIV (The Story of Civilization, #8)
  • The Age of Voltaire (The Story of Civilization, #9)
  • Rousseau and Revolution (The Story of Civilization, #10)
  • The Age of Napoleon (The Story of Civilization, #11)

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“...but which of us has read every line of the Iliad, or the Aeneid, or The Divine Comedy, or Paradise Lost? Only men of epic stomach can digest these epic tales.” 4 likes
“Pagan professors of philosophy, after the death of Hypatia, sought security in Athens, where non-Christian teaching was still relatively and innocuously free. Student life was still lively there, and enjoyed most of the consolations of higher education—fraternities, distinctive garbs, hazing, and a general hilarity.” 1 likes
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