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Showing 1-10 of 144 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 395 reviews
on May 16, 2015
Difficult read but well worth the effort , Carroll seems impressed with vocabulary and his approach to answers much self directed towards his desired conclusions. However, his style and factual dialogue definitely command inner thought and conscious review of one's personal religious focus. Additionally, I found his explanation of the impact of the cross on all religions eye opening. It would have been an easy 5 star rating with a more reader friendly style.
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on March 23, 2014
It starts from a minor, though emotionally divisive event, the erection, by the Carmelite order, of a cross at Auschwitz. The cross was to the memory of Edith Stein, a convert to Catholicism who was executed in Auschwitz, along with hundreds of thousands of Jews. To understand why this event caused such anguish, Carroll takes us on a 2000-year journey from Jesus through the Roman empire, the dark ages, the middle ages, to today. Carroll presents details of the Catholic Churches involvement in pogroms, the Crusades, forced conversions, the Inquisition, purity of blood, ghettoes, expulsions, more pogroms, Bismarck, Nazi's, more ghettoes, and the Holocaust. All this told by an active Catholic, a former priest and a civil rights worker, whose father was a major figure in the US military intelligence and whose mother was a devout Catholic.
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on February 8, 2013
Constantine became emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire partly through marriage; he attacked the Western half and killed all other possible heirs to any part of the Empire, including a boy. It was a time when Jewish-Christian sects had splintered into many divisive factions over the course of 300 years. Also, barbarian hordes rimmed the Empire, some blending partial new-sect ideas into their pagan ones. Their main heritage pagan symbol was a stylized cross probably more prevalent among them in the East as icon than it was among the Jewish-Christians in the West.

Constantine claimed he saw a vision of a stylized cross that held meaning for both these enlarging populations in southern Europe that he needed to tame. He called the Council of Nicea to meld all Jewish-Christian sects into one. Some invitees never showed up, resisting him. It took 4 no-doubt raucous meetings for the majority to separate themselves further from Judaism, which had given the Roman Empire more trouble than any other people or ideology (cf Hadrian's Holocaust). Nicea 4 retained most of the Hebrew Bible, against the wishes of the Marcionites. They separated Easter from Passover, proclaimed Sunday the Sabbath rather than Saturday (named after the sun, which Constantine worshipped), proscribed Jews as secondary citizens to Christians, may have declared Jewish-Christian synagogues churches, or the change had begun earlier and he solidified it. Constantine himself never became a practicing Christian, although his mother was a Jewish-Christian of possible semi-Pauline leaning that the Ebionites, among others, contested.

James Carroll, an ex-priest, explores these landmark anti-Semitic events that increased over the ages as de-Judaizing indoctrination. He omits the bitter effect the Roman-Jewish wars had on Rome, Roman cultural cruelty and Hadrian's Holocaust. He focuses on Constantinian deJudaizing and how it insidiously grew into indoctrinated hate thy neighbor, then ghettoes and then Hitlerian rant and mass murder. This book is the most informative and panoramic of a progressive movement among Christian clergy to exercise free inquiry and opinion about the Church and its relations with the Jews (which have improved enormously from just such criticism). For that, and its patient and civil presentation, this book deserves 5 stars. It is a book of conscience. --As for Eusebius, cited by one reviewer, he was Constantine's Goebbels, a propagandist more than a real historian. The known facts of Nicea and its aftermath speak for themselves.

--Al Sundel
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on January 6, 2017
I respect everyone's belief and I believe live and let live. But I also like to research. This is an eye opening book. I recommend it highly.
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on February 26, 2015
It contains a lot of information not found in similar books. However, its a little chatty in its style. As a historian, I believe all books of this nature need to be written from a third person point of view, and eliminate all redundancies and commentary that interrupts the story flow.
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on September 27, 2015
This is a valuable history book that exposes Roman Catholic hypocrisy not only regarding genocidal crimes during the crusades but the original acceptance of the cross as the war symbol of an alleged messiah whose teachings were chosen for this world only because all other beliefs would not forgive murders committed by a self-proclaimed emperor.
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on April 5, 2017
Lengthy church history book.
Challenging reading to the average person.
Applicable to seminary students and readers who are interested in church history..
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on May 31, 2015
Read this when it first came out, lent it out (forgot who to and they must of loved it and kept it), bought it again before a trip to Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Have traveled throughout Europe and and a lot. I know I need to save my pennies and travel to Israel next. I think of this book often when I read world affairs and matters pertaining to current conflict. Well worth the read, well footnoted.
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on December 25, 2012
Constantine's Sword takes us through the development of the church from its beginnings, from when the "Jesus movement" began to sweep the Roman empire to when the powers that be, most notably the emperor Constantine, largely steered this movement toward the empire's own ends. In one of history's great ironies, the Romans crushed Jesus and the Jews, and then essentially appropriated the figure of Jesus, turning him into a idol. The new Christians (now largely Gentiles) painted Jews as the bad guys, and accused them of killing Christ, even though Jesus and his first followers were very much Jews themselves. As Carroll describes, the horrible outcome of this worldview was cruel anti-Semitism over many centuries, and ultimately the horror of the Holocaust. Carroll's scholarship and rigor are impressive, as is his writing. Everyone should read this book.
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on February 15, 2017
I have purchased this work twice: once as a book, once as a Kindle book. I am reading the Kindle one. I find it amazing that Mr. Carroll can write so much and not seem redundant. I am on about page 400 of 750 and haven't become bored yet. I also like his grasp of Catholic Church history, its treatment of the Jewish people, and how doctrines the Catholic popes, friars and other theologians, laid down which led to the Holocaust. It is also not gruesome.
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