- Paperback: 640 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: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
1. The book is largely an ad hominem argument against the character of various heretics, akin to Paul Johnson's work, "Intellectuals." While the technique might have been an interesting supplement to substantive inquiry concerning the theology of the various movements considered, 640 pages of snide and often unexplained criticisms left this reader exhausted and disappointed that a priest of the church directed such relentless hostility toward those who shared his baptism.
2. The author assumes much more knowledge than the average reader would typically possess. There are untranslated passages of Latin, French, and other languages throughout the book. There is often inadequate explanation of the background or significance of issues being discussed. I have a graduate degree in theology, but I sometimes felt like I was listening to a conversation in a faculty club rather than an objective exposition of a complicated subject.
In retrospect I am surprised that this book is found on so many "reading lists" for new Catholics. It would likely overwhelm a newcomer to the faith and the persistent vitriol on its pages cannot be good for anyone's soul. I recommend a more positive and balanced introduction to the faith and its variations such as found in Bishop Robert Barron's work, "Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith."
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.
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).