Wealhtheow's Reviews > Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years

Jesus Wars by Philip Jenkins
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's review
Jan 25, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: historical, non-fiction
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Cera

This book details how the political maneuverings in the 5th century affected what is officially thought and taught about Jesus. It's all quite complicated and bloody, filled with armies of monks marauding across Europe and the Middle East, and all over philosophical differences so slight I can hardly keep them straight. Alas, this book delves deep into convoluted details of theology, which I could not possibly care less about, and so I gave it up on page 23. I skimmed forward and found that various battles, massacres, and historical personages do get page time, but it seems the book skips around in time a good deal and gets far more detailed in some areas than others. If you're truly interested in the antecedents of Christianity, and you're willing to put up with numerous pages arguing about whether Jesus had a mom, then this is the book for you. As someone looking for more history than philosophy, this didn't work for me.
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Reading Progress

January 25, 2012 – Shelved
June 27, 2013 – Started Reading
June 27, 2013 –
page 1
0.28% "Very first paragraph of this book details how in 449 the leading Fathers of the Christian church met in Epheus sot debate. "At a critical moment, a band of monks and soldiers took control of the meeting hall, forcing bishops to sign a blank paper on which the winning side later filled in its own favored statement" against Flavian, the patriarch of Constantinople. "a mob of monks" attacked Flavian & beat him to death"
June 27, 2013 –
page 5
1.42% "Monophysites vs Chalcedonians: tens of thousands die over fight about whether Jesus was both divineANDhuman or just divine. "the intra-christian violence of the 5th and 6th century debates" involved burning dissidents, infecting with leprosy, and according to Gibbon Jerusalem was occupied by an army of Monophysite monks, who pillage, burn, murder, defile sepulchre of Christ, murder & mangle patriarch in baptistery."
June 27, 2013 –
page 6
1.7% "Both hilarious and sad: Chalcedonian clergy attack Monophysite nuns, armed with consecrated bread. They forced the Eucharist into the nuns' mouths as they struggled and cried. Once they had eaten, they were officially in communion with Chalcedon, even though they were forced into it. This is batshit crazy stuff."
June 27, 2013 – Shelved as: historical
June 27, 2013 – Shelved as: non-fiction
June 27, 2013 –
page 16
4.55% "The split within ancient Christianity prepared the way for outside powers who would exploit intra-Christian divisions...Without the religious crisis, Islam could not have stormed into the political near-vacuum it found in the 7th century, into an empire where most Eastern subjects--Monophysite and Nestorian--rejected their Orthodox Catholic emperors. So alienated were the Christian dissidents that few were prepared.."
June 27, 2013 – Shelved as: didn-t_finish
June 27, 2013 –
page 245
69.6% "Abraham, bishop in Amida, used his soldiers to force communion bread into the mouths of the reluctant. One priest who resisted even these efforts was remembered ever after under the heroic name of Cyrus the Spitter--although Cyrus himself was burned alive shortly afterward."
June 27, 2013 – Finished Reading

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