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Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire Paperback – April 15, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0674005495 ISBN-10: 067400549X Edition: New Ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; New Ed edition (April 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067400549X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674005495
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Barnes's contribution to late Roman studies has been of the first importance. He often plays the role of devil's advocate, scrutinizing our preconceptions about the period and provoking us to think again about issues of central importance...Barnes has provided us with another masterpiece of historical reconstruction. A lucid narrative is supported by appendices and notes so detailed that they take up more than one-third of the book...No review can really do Barnes's work justice and it is impossible not to admire its richness...At a time when such studies are unfashionable, it is good to know that they have a defender of remarkable calibre. (Mark Humphries Classical Review)

An indispensable chart for the tricky waters of fourth-century history. [Barnes>] has written another classic. (John F. Drinkwater The Historian)

About the Author

Timothy D. Barnes is Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Matthew T Donaghue on June 9, 2003
I put myself on a summer reading course of important Late Roman/Early Byzantine Emperors. I started with Diocletian and hope to stop with Maurice. After reading Constantine the Great by Micheal Grant I began to cast around for a book on his successors. Of Constantine's three sons, this is the only major work in the past ten years that deals with any of them, the eventual victor in their succession struggle, Constantius. This book focuses on the Christian Bishop Athanasius' struggle for legitimacy within the late Empire.
Barnes discusses, in overwhelming detail, the multitude of early Christian squabbles and power-struggles that sought to define Christian orthodoxy within the Christian Roman Empire. Little is known of Athanasius as a person but his religious impact is enormous and Barnes dives into this and drags his reader down with him. There are too many names, councils and conflicts for anyone other than a true expert to keep straight.
One important idea I learned, though, was the absolute power the Emperors truly had. Most books give you an idea of this when they say, "Emperor So-And-So ordered the deaths of 10000 people." This book explains Imperial power in a new way. When Constantius wrote condemning letters about Athanasius, you can sense the man's panic as he tried to explain his way back into the Emperor's good graces.
This is what saves the book. You begin to root for Athanasius to survive (which he did as the Bishop of Alexandria for 45 years) as conspiracy after conspiracy strives to destroy his reputation and anathemize him and his teachings.
Don't try this book unless you have a good grasp of early Christian history or late Roman history.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on March 14, 2008
This well documented study focuses on the career of Archbishop Athanasius of Alexandria during the 300s AD. But beyond that, Barnes illuminates the surrounding age with its assumptions, passions, and realities. Behind the official statements of a winner in church history, Barnes shows us the evidence of a fallible, ambitious, vindictive man, striving to defeat his rivals by almost any means necessary. The ups and downs of this man's career are close to breathtaking. Barnes' careful research reveals a saga of disturbing political hardball over the future of power in Rome's new imperial religion.

--author of Correcting Jesus
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