When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome

When Jesus Became God The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome A thoroughly researched and vivid re creation of one of the most critical periods in the history of Western religion The life of Jesus and the subsequent persecution of Christians during the Roman Em

  • Title: When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome
  • Author: Richard E. Rubenstein Michelle Brook
  • ISBN: 9780156013154
  • Page: 490
  • Format: Paperback
  • A thoroughly researched and vivid re creation of one of the most critical periods in the history of Western religion The life of Jesus, and the subsequent persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire, have come to define what many of us know about early Christianity The fervent debate, civil strife, and bloody riots within the Christian community as it was forming,A thoroughly researched and vivid re creation of one of the most critical periods in the history of Western religion The life of Jesus, and the subsequent persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire, have come to define what many of us know about early Christianity The fervent debate, civil strife, and bloody riots within the Christian community as it was forming, however, is a story that is rarely told Richard E Rubenstein takes readers to the streets of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, where a divisive argument over the divinity of Jesus Christ was underway Ruled by a Christian emperor, followers of Jesus no longer feared for the survival of their monotheistic faith, but they found themselves in different camps led by two charismatic men on the topic of Christian theology Arius, an Alexandrian priest and poet, preached that Jesus, though holy, is less than God, while Athanasius, a brilliant and violent bishop, saw any diminution of Jesus godhead as the work of the devil Between them stood Alexander, the powerful Bishop of Alexandria, in search of a solution that would keep the empire united and the Christian faith alive.

    One thought on “When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome”

    1. Read this with The Subversion of Christianity by Jacques Ellul. Rubenstein describes the battle between the Arians and the Athanasians, a dispute finally resolved by Constantine in the 4th century. The alliance with Constantine's political force then made orthodoxy and heresy possible. Levy's book on the history of Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred from Moses to Salman Rushdie is also a really good companion book)The Arians, lead by Arius, believed that it was crucial that Jesus was h [...]

    2. Read this on the recommendation of a friend, and it was an amazing find. The Council of Nicea and the Arian heresy had been on the fringes of my consciousness, but I never really understood their significance. Much like Misquoting Jesus did, this book shows how arbitrary much of current Christian theology is. The Arian heresy could well have become the dominant belief, but the Trinity conception triumphed thanks to intrigue, murder, and politics. Any Christians who feel morally superior to Islam [...]

    3. I inherited a few nonfiction books from my grandfather years ago, this among them. I'm finally getting around to reading a couple of them to see what I want to hold on to.This book added somewhat to my knowledge of the Council of Nicea and its aftermath, of which I really knew nothing. However, it was rather dry and I probably would have been at least as enlightened, if not more, by reading a condensed article. I was interested in the subject! But I guess I like my history humanized a bit, and t [...]

    4. A very readable and engaging history of Christianity's transition from a marginalized underground mystical movement to the state religion. The focus is on the Arian controversy, which was a major obstacle to unity as well as representing an open theological question that had direct ramifications on the political conception of the state. The book gives peripheral treatment to the ennoblement of bishops and the creation of the Christian establishment, which were the largest structural changes in t [...]

    5. This book is engagingly written. That's about the best thing I can say about it. The book's Preface gives the sub-text. The author (whose books, Aristotle's Children and Thus Saith the Lord I admired) conceived of writing this book over 30 years ago. Having researched it to satisfy his curiosity, he ought to have stopped there. Otherwise it is a re-hash of secondary literature and primary documents in translation.The Preface tells us that Professor Rubenstein, as a Jew, had long been fascinated [...]

    6. After nearly three hundred years of persecution, Christianity made a breakthrough in 324, when Constantine became emperor of Rome. Led by two charismatic priests—Arius, who preached that Jesus is subject to God, and Athanasius who argued that Jesus is God himself in human form—the debate over Jesus’ degree of divinity escalated from heated argument to violence and bloodshed. Rubenstein guides you through the power struggles of the time, concluding in the year 381, when the Council of Const [...]

    7. I read this a decade ago, and I find that I recommend it to people once or twice a year. I've just been reading some of the reviews here on , and some people seem very concerned that the controversy explored in this book is over the divinity of Christ. I would point out that it's much more the one-in-body vs one-in-purpose argument, are God the Father and God the Son the same personage? Anyone who believes this question is settled, popularly, in the present day, is mistaken. I know of at least t [...]

    8. I would give this book five stars if you have an inherent interest in the formation of the Nicene Creed and the details of the Arian controversy of the early Christian church. This book is immensely accessible, reading like a historical potboiler, while providing thorough examination of fact and reasonable supposition, with a clear identification of which is which.But if you don't have that inherent interestwhew, this topic can wear you out. Answering the seemingly simple question of whether Jes [...]

    9. I belong to a book group at church that reads about church history and many of the authors that are getting people all riled up these days -- Bishop Spong, Marcus Borg, etc. I affectionately refer to us as "Heretics Anonymous". This is our latest choice.It's really a gripping story of the Christian church in the 4th century and how the Council of Nicea came to be, which led to the Nicene Creed, which "settled" the question of who Jesus was, his relationship to God (and the Holy Spirit), and that [...]

    10. Quite interesting look at the Council of Nicea, the opposing factions of early Christianity and the political maneuvering that resulted in the doctrine of Jesus' divinity as opposed to him being just the son of God. Not for light reading, this is a dry read for a casual historian, but it portrays the story behind the events that kept apologists employed trying to explain the trinity.

    11. It wasn't as good as other books I've read covering the same historic period. The author seemed to scatter his telling, making it hard to follow, and was perhaps too reverent to his subject.

    12. First details upon the form of the book itself before going into its contents. This book is by a non-specialist academician writing outside of his area of expertise. It is however a well researched book and highly readable with an easy flowing narrative of the events of the Arian controversy, from the Christian persecutions preceding Constantine to its conclusion with the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381. While not exactly a scholarly work, it however organises in a succint and clear manne [...]

    13. I found this book to be magnificent. It casts light on a topic that is oft-ignored by the modern church, and one that most Christians know little about. Most Christians either believe that Christ is God, or that he is the son of God. Few ever consider the other side's arguments, or realize that this debate was silenced by violence. It should be read by all.

    14. A very useful look at late antiquity and at how close we came to defining dogmas in a very different way--and at how very violent people were in their feelings on both sides.

    15. I thought it might be interesting to see how a Jewish writer would portray the divinity of Jesus so I bought this book. Since I am a Christian writer and teacher I also need to stay aware of other works in this field. I was surprised to hear his portrayal of early church history. It is sometimes difficult to separate history from the author's opinion and that was true in this case. Fortunately, I am well read on this subject and felt that he cheated his readers out of a fair analysis of the subj [...]

    16. This book by Richard E. Rubenstein examines the battle between Arian and Nicene Christology. In this well-researched book the author steps into the historical and political context that initiated, shaped and "terminated" this conflict. Indirectly, the author taps into many of our commonly accepted views and challenges them. This conflict, which is mostly about the nature of the relationship between Jesus (the son) and the Father is not simply a theological issue. Civil wars and imperial strategi [...]

    17. Were you to awaken the average 21st century Christian at 3 am and demand that they quickly give their beliefs on the nature of the Trinity, the odds are good that their description of religious mysteries central to their faith would be deemed heresy by at least one faction of fourth century Christians. Actually, this is an unrealistic scenario as the average 21st century Christian would most likely give you a most un-Christian response that had nothing to do with the Trinity and go back to sleep [...]

    18. An excellent and engaging historical overview on the Arian controversy in the later days of Rome. If one is interested in a concise history surrounding this important theological debate in the early church, this book won't disappoint. Rubenstein explains how the emergence of an obscure, persecuted religion started by a Jewish Rabbi became the central institution of the entire Roman world. The narrative continues on to highlight the issues that arise when the line between church and state begin t [...]

    19. I skimmed through this very quickly looking for some specific information, but I'd give this three and a half stars based on its general approach and writing style.The author describes it, in the acknowledgements, as "a work of storytelling and interpretation," and this seems an apt description. If you'd like to know more about how Christianity came to believe that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine (ie, the Arian controversy) with more attention to human history and historical context [...]

    20. A bit heavy going at times, but all the same a fascinating look at the early history of the Christian church and the first heresy. Very interesting to see the way the Socratic tradition of the Eastern empire precluded the blind devotion that the early church fathers required and how, as the power of the church grew it became more and more disinclined to accept anything but strictly orthodox belief. I never really gave much thought before to how Jesus can be the son of God and yet not a separate [...]

    21. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have read some of the early church fathers before, such as Eusebius, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and many more. But this book puts them into historical context. It covers the period when Rome (Emperor Constantine) embraced Christianity as a means of uniting the empire, and with persecution lifted, theological disputes came to the fore. The Arian controversy was the key theological disagreement between the Eastern (Greek) church, and the Western church (Europe) [...]

    22. Buku ini saya baca dari koleksi di rak buku seorang teman.Dibuka pada awal seperti novel, tetapi ini adalah buku semi sejarah dengan tuturan yang mengalir lancar untuk dapat disimak kaum awam.Menceritakan tentang kekristenan pada awal awal abad perkembangannya. Banyak informasi yang saya tahu dari buku ini, di antaranya bahwa ternyata perdebatan njlimet tentang Tuhan Yesus lebih banyak lahir di Gereja timur, sementara Gereja barat lebih pasif alias menerima apa adanya.Dituturkan juga tentang cam [...]

    23. I really appreciate hearing the story of the earliest years of Christianity told by someone who doesn't have any skin in the game. I myself am a Mormon, and frequently found myself growing up getting told by my evangelical friends that my belief that the Father and the son are not physically the same being, and that our efforts to follow Christ could eventually lead us to have the same divinity as Christ was blasphemy and satanic. I really related to the heated debates (although we never took it [...]

    24. Is a narrative account of Christian church history concerning twhe debate over the nature of Jesus in the third and fourth centuries. It gives slightly Arian-biased account of the arguments for/against Jesus being "very God" and highlights how the Roman poer structure was exploited by unscrupulous bishops on both sides of issue. That part actually gave me nightmares - churchmen wielding the salvation-stick for their own ends.I found its tone very easy to listen to, reminiscent of undergrad histo [...]

    25. This book was quoted in a Phillip Gulley book so I decided I needed to read it. The struggle between Arius and Athanasius, two 4th c. Priests , became violent. Arius preached that Jesus, although holy, is less than God. Athanasius preached that Jesus is God. The two sides battled until Constantine settled the Question when he, as the emperor of Rome, endorsed Athansius and his followers. With the meeting at Nicaes and the Niceum Creed that followed, Christianity set a course and a belief system [...]

    26. This book is a good entry to some of the political and cultural context of the development of the "Nicene" and "Arian" theology of God and Jesus. The author does a good job balancing complex theological discussions with lively descriptions of the political intrigue and violence that accompanied their debate. It is not uncommon for a discussion of the finer connotations of certain Greeks words and how they were interpreted by clergy at the time to veer rapidly to a vivid recount of a bishop's fai [...]

    27. I read this for a class and am glad I did. Anyone that seeks to understand the conflict and challenges in early church should read this. It's too easy to sit from and our vantage point in time and assume that once the church was accepted by Rome the difficulties were past. This well written book helped me to understand the identity crisis faced by the church after the early church leaders like Paul and John had passed.I appreciated the unbiased viewpoint of the author. As a Jew, he was not writi [...]

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