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Founding of Christendom > Founding of Christendom Chapters Nine & Ten

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike I really enjoyed Dr. Carroll’s treatment of the fourth century B.C.; in fact I view the fourth century as a very special time in history.

We see Ezra returning from Babylon and preaching isolation to Judah but we also see the spreading of Greek culture throughout what was then the known world with which the Jewish population would have contact. This would eventually lead to the entire New Testament being published in Greek.

What a fantastic century, we have, briefly, Socrates followed by his brilliant student, Plato. Enter Aristotle and his student Alexander the Great. I can hardly imagine having men like these walking the streets of Athens, interacting with one another. What set of circumstances brought them all together at this time and place?

These philosophers are still influencing the civilized world, twenty-two centuries later. And Alexander was responsible for the Hellenization of his known world. By the time he reached his mid-thirties he had conquered every country that was on his map. He is the reason our Bible was in Greek. The Jews living in the diaspora were speaking Greek, not Hebrew; therefore, in the third century, the need for the Septuagint, the Jewish scriptures in Greek. The New Testament in the main followed in Greek.

Dr. Carroll then shifts to the founding or firm establishment of Rome, in the third century B.C. As I read his account of Rome in the early days it reminded me of the United States; founded by men of integrity and values. Their moral qualities and fair system of government laid the foundation for hundreds of years of success. I really appreciated his account of how many times Rome had to pick itself up after being beaten and get back on track.

Interestingly, Dr. Carroll refers to the abortion practices of 1985 as “murder in the dark” and the practices in Carthage as “murder in the very light of Hell’s furnace”. I think he would be shocked and surprised to see how close to Hell’s furnace we have come.


message 2: by Leslie (last edited Aug 23, 2015 07:37PM) (new)

Leslie | 360 comments I'm really enjoying these chapters as well. I loved reading about the famous philosophers and poets as well as the behind-the-scenes stories of things like.....everyone in the city was destroyed except for the famous poet. LOL.

Doesn't your heart break for Socrates? It's so frustrating....this repeating circle in human life of people who are amazing, who changed the world forever for the better, and then were completely destroyed by their own people. Over and over and over it repeats.

I can't help but feel that God was behind Alexander's success. Again, like so many other times in history it is the cornerstone rejected by the builder (his father), that is critical to everything. Adversity makes us stronger. Doubters led us to push ourselves farther than anyone else would ask of us.

Alexander was truly amazing, but I think it was his desire to unite people, to find common ground that caused him to be in such good graces with God, thereby able to win against impossible odds, coupled, of course, with highly intelligent decision making during battles. It is amazing the way he approached the problems and solved each one.

I will say as I was reading battle after battle after battle it did start to wear on my psyche. I have/had PTSD from past traumas and even though this is distant past, I noticed myself feeling depressed. Mankind was moving in the right direction towards a more civilized state and coming away from very barbaric and cruel ancestors. Change takes time and it took many years for the leadership wisdom of the great philosophers to settle into people's minds, convincing them that democracy fares better longitudinally than totalitarian rule. In the interim, it was brutal out there.

I also found myself imagining how anyone could possibly travel 11,000 miles in those days. And weren't the battle scenes impressive the way word to stop an action made the day before DID reach the destination at the last possible second! The communication between people was amazing considering they had no internet, no radio, no email, etc.

I recently had an opportunity via Early Bird to get a free book on Alexander.

The Nature of Alexander The Nature of Alexander by Mary Renault by Mary Renault Mary Renault

I haven't read Chapter 10 yet, but will come back tomorrow to comment on it. :-)


message 3: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 360 comments The book on Alexander the Great is really good. It starts out with his death and the controversy about his funeral, etc. Ties in very nicely with our reading.


message 4: by Galicius (new)

Galicius | 438 comments I was curious what Mr. Carroll’s research revealed on Alexander “the Great” having recently read Alexander’s biography based on writing of ancient writers. (“Alexander the Great” by Tania Gergel (Editor), Michael Wood) I was surprised and somewhat disturbed when I read Carroll’s comment: “the greatest commander of this or any other age”. I don’t think I misunderstand this line. Mr. Carroll seems to be genuinely impressed by Alexander’s exploits and summarizes them briefly at the end of the chapter that he built a bridge between the East and West.

When I read Alexander’s biography I noted the numbers of counted soldiers and civilians who met death because of Alexander. There are also uncounted thousands mentioned. The counted figure adds up to about 147,200. That is the reason I put “the Great” in quotation marks.


message 5: by Leslie (last edited Aug 25, 2015 09:32AM) (new)

Leslie | 360 comments Galicius wrote: "I was curious what Mr. Carroll’s research revealed on Alexander “the Great” having recently read Alexander’s biography based on writing of ancient writers. (“Alexander the Great” by Tania Gergel (E..."

Dr.Carroll gets a bit biased at times. Those were big losses, but I think his point was that the gains were so enormous and truly changed the world. If those far reaching areas had not experienced Greek culture and writing as they did, Christianity would not have taken hold, or perhaps as strongly, as it did. I think from a Christianity perspective, it wouldn't have happened without him. Looking from a lives lost point of view, you might have a different outlook.

This book is free today on Kindle if anyone is interested.

Characters and Events of Roman History, from Caesar to Nero (Dodo Press) by Guglielmo Ferrero Characters and Events of Roman History, from Caesar to Nero by Guglielmo Ferrero

I was actually trying to find something else, unrelated, and saw this on a book list, then went to Amazon and saw it was free today.


message 6: by Susan Margaret (new)

Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) | 547 comments After the retelling of many battles, Dr. Carroll leaves us with two statements (one from chapter nine and the other from chapter ten) which summarizes their important lasting impact:

Pg. 207 "...but Hellenization provided a cultural unity, and the bridge between East and West that Alexander had built would endure for a thousand years, until the coming of Islam."

Pg. 219 "The Roman Empire, pagan and mortal, vanished long ago. But Rome lives still, and until the end of time the Bishop of Rome will be Vicar of Christ. In what Rome was from her early days lay the germ, however much later transfigured, of what she was to be both to the world and to the Church."

In chapter ten, Dr. Carroll makes a good observation:

Pg. 216 "...even the best political structure is of very little value without public and private moral virtue and respect for the natural law..."


message 7: by Mike (new)

Mike Susan Margaret wrote: "After the retelling of many battles, Dr. Carroll leaves us with two statements (one from chapter nine and the other from chapter ten) which summarizes their important lasting impact:

Pg. 207 "...b..."


Good observation! Without public and private moral virtue and respect for natural law, we are left with very little to hold us together.


message 8: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 360 comments I liked those passages too Susan Margaret. I just finished Rome this afternoon. I really didn't know much about Hannibal, but had heard the name. It's strange but I found myself rooting for Alexander the Great, but not Hannibal.

I felt really sad and frustrated at the misuse of animals, elephants and oxen, in these battles. The history of man is so disappointing at times.

It was a bit detailed, but I really appreciated the way Dr. Carroll explained the way in which Rome governed itself. It's amazing how closely our own system fits in with this. I can see why you'd want property owners to have a greater ability to vote than common people. I'm not talking about slavery, just as a property owner things come up that you should have more say over than the people unaffected.

I have never studied Rome's history, or if I did it's been forgotten, so for me it was news that every time they went to war they switched to a dictatorship. I wonder how and why that started. You can't help but think someone got burned before on a popular vote. Maybe I missed that part.


message 9: by Susan Margaret (new)

Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) | 547 comments Mike wrote: "Good observation! Without public and private moral virtue and respect for natural law, we are left with very little to hold us together.
..."


Dr. Carroll made a similar comment about government and men of character in chapter 8, Galicius makes reference to this in his comments in the section for chapters 7 & 8. It appears that Dr. Carroll will be reinforcing this idea about good men and government throughout his book. Something to be remembered at every election.


message 10: by Susan Margaret (new)

Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) | 547 comments Leslie wrote: " I really didn't know much about Hannibal, but had heard the name. It's strange but I found myself rooting for Alex..."

I do not think it is strange that you were cheering for Alexander the Great as opposed to Hannibal in his fight against Rome. Alexander was spreading Hellenism whereas Hannibal was fighting for a country (Carthage) that practiced child sacrifice. Dr. Carroll calls Carthage the successor of Jezebel's Tyre. Apparently descendants of the Canaanites were the founders of Carthage, hence the continued sacrifice of babies to the god Baal. I like the way that Dr. Carroll describes Hannibal "...he had made his choice for the devil he knew, against the good he did not know." His comments remind me of the saying "Dance with the devil you know".


message 11: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 360 comments That wasn't what I meant. Sometimes when you read battle scenes you find yourself rooting for someone even though they never made it big in history, or maybe were not as ethical, etc. Hannibal was cited as a military general of excellence, but in simply considering each battle, the way he fought frustrated me. It felt good to see a turning point in civilization were people aren't just simply being taken over by the next group. Under Rome, people had rights, a say in their lives, and that was part of what caused them to unite and actively close the gates to shut him out, every able bodied person to take arms and fight.

For all the talk about child sacrifice, that's not why Rome was fighting Carthage. It wasn't about ethics, it was about power.


message 12: by Susan Margaret (new)

Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) | 547 comments Leslie wrote: " For all the talk about child sacrifice, that's not why Rome was fighting Carthage. It wasn't about ethics, it was about power.
.."


That is true.


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