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Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion Paperback – September 30, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0268009328 ISBN-10: 0268009325 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 622 pages
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press; 1 edition (September 30, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0268009325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0268009328
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Sue on April 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you're British, you'll know 'Desert Island Discs', where celebrities name the eight records and one book they'd want to be marooned with on a desert island. Well, Enthusiasm is my Desert Island Book, and has been for many, many years; re-read at least fifteen times, and known partly by heart, it never palls.
The book itself is a survey of Christian 'enthusiasm' from the Corinthians to Father Divine, though focusing most on the 17th and 18th centuries; the nearest equivalent in recognisable modern times is the charismatic movement. (It was largely this book, together with the same author's 'Belief of Catholics', which converted me from a charismatic evangelical to a Catholic.) It's elegantly written, but that's only the half of it; there's a depth of learning and scholarship worn lightly, wit and humour which few other religious writers have ever achieved (Chesterton springs to mind); and, most of all, a compassion and sympathy for many of his subjects (not all; he's very scathing about the Jansenists and Mme Guyon). In all, a book which is wonderful to read, but also full of almost prophetic insights into the current situation in the Catholic Church, which Knox never saw (he died several years before the Second Vatican Council).
All I can say is "Buy it"!" You won't regret it.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Mozarabica@aol.com on August 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read Mgr Knox's book when I was in high school, but have re-read it several times. I was taken aback by his sympathy & understanding of John Wesley. I haven't read anything more inspiring about Wesley written by a Methodist.His account of the struggle between Fénelon & Bossuet is masterful. One wonders what he would have thought of the modern televangelists. He would not have made fun of them, but would have discerned the basis of their appeal.This is a work of humanism, grounded on faith, but in no way condescending or superior.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By "gerard77" on March 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Hard not to be very enthusiastic about this magnum opus of Msgr Ronald Knox. It deserves to be republished today--in a lovely paperback edition. This has been one of my favorite books over the years; read and re-read for the sheer joy of reading! Knox takes us on a marvellous journey through history, unveiling some of the mystical and "enthusiastic" movements, going back to Corinth and Montanism, and some of the "enthusiastic" personalities behind these movements. His chapters on John Wesley are the best I know; alone worth the price of this book.  You may be surprised--as Knox himself was--at his conclusions! ENTHUSIASM COMES FROM THE GREEK MEANING "GOD WITHIN!"
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By radtrad on April 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
Knox's "Enthusiasm" is a survey of the history of certain mystical trends, which the author dubs "ultra-supernaturalist", throughout the course of Christian history. Knox examines the various outbreaks in detail, especially those of the 17th and 18th centuries. Furthermore, he successfully and profoundly analyzes the psychological basis for all such movements.
This book is necessary reading for anyone interested in the history of fringe religious movements in general, any of the sects described here specifically, or the psychology of fanaticism.
I also recommend that students of Eric Voegelin read this book, as it provides much food for thought in light of his comments about the nature of gnosticism. Likewise, anyone who finds the psychological portions of this book interesting should look at Voegelin's work, which deals with similar issues from a philosophical perspective. I suggest that you begin with "Science, Politics, and Gnosticism" and then move on to "The New Science of Politics" to get a basic grounding in Voegelin. He and Knox share a fundamental insight - that fringe religious groups are motivated by an antinomian hatred for reality and society that seeks to destroy nature rather than to heal it, which is the goal of more mainstream religion. What Voegelin adds to the discussion is a deeper fund of historical examples of such attitudes, an investigation of a paralell set of ideas to be found in modern philosophy, and an understanding of how these ideas have influenced modern culture and politics (for example, Voegelin regards socialism, in all it's forms, as a secularized version of the same kind of anitnomian millenarianism to be found in, say the Montanists, who Knox investigates at length).
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a well-written history of the various sects of Christianity which demonstrated "enthusiastic" characteristics from the year 1 to the Modern age. Written with humor and with sympathy.
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