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The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity Paperback – November 1, 1999
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Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I also want to add that this book provides the best overview of the situation of the Jews in Europe during the early Middle Ages that I have ever seen (and I have been looking). Most authors begin with the persecutions of 1096 and only toss off a line about the tolerance that marked the first 500 years of the Middle Ages; Fletcher actually examines the tensions and accomodations during those centuries, and his account has thoroughly persuaded me that looking at the fluidity between Judaism and Christianity casts a needed light on the larger characters of both religions at that moment in history. Likewise, his extensive treatment of the conversions of the Slavic and Baltic regions alongside the more familiar terrain of Western Europe is a welcome reminder that the history of the Middle Ages must include Eastern Europe. Although only a devotee of the subject matter would want to read a 500-odd page book on the barbarian conversions, a medievalist who does will be richly rewarded.
So, it took me a while took get over that little disappointment.
But when I stopped waiting for some non-existant explanation of pre-Christian beliefs, I found that this is actually quite a good book. Many other people have already described the main themes, so I won't bother. But one thing I will say, is that the book covers a huge amount of ground and is a very good overview of a little-know period in Church history.
I would recommend reading this right after "Who wrote the New Testament" That book leaves off in about 400 after the solid foundation of the Christian Church proper had been established and Fletcher's book begins just as Christianity has taken a firm hold in Rome. The two back to back give a thorough history of the early church as a political, military, and diplomatic institution, rather than some mystical brotherhood.
Yeah, it's a little dense in places, but it's still worth it.
The conversion of just about every group in western Europe is covered in detail and Fletcher gives us a well rounded chronicle of religious conversion on both the personal and societal level. He also never fails to iterate any or all of the reasons why an individual or people might convert.
Fletcher can be accused of going into too much detail at times. The chapters tend flow in biographies from one obscure monk to another with very little overview in between. This makes for difficult reading in the middle chapters. However, given the lack of published materials on the subject, this error can be overlooked.
Stellar research, recommended reading for any scholar of religious change or of the early middle ages.
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