- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Icon Books (2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1848311508
- ISBN-13: 978-1848311503
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God's Philosophers Paperback – 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is the latest entry in a controversy with a history of its own. Hannam speaks of the myth that "there was no science worth mentioning in the Middle Ages," and "the Church held back what meagre advances were made." These beliefs originated as late as the 19th century with Thomas Henry Huxley, John William Draper, and Andrew Dickson White, who tried to paint religion as the enemy of science. Their story has been told often; Hannam himself has blogged on it.
A.D. White's part is particularly unfortunate, in that he produced a highly influential, heavily footnoted, apparently scholarly tome on the historic warfare between science and religion. Hannam assesses his work this way:
"Anyone who checks his references will wonder how he could have maintained his opinions if he had read as much as he claimed to have done."
Other recent historians have treated White less gently than that.
Hannam situates these myths in historical context:
"The denigration of the Middle Ages began as long ago as the sixteenth century, when humanists, the intellectual trendsetters of the time, started to champion classical Greek and Roman literature. They cast aside medieval scholarship on the grounds that it was convoluted and written in `barbaric' Latin. So people stopped reading and studying it.... The waters were muddied further by ... Protestant writers not to give an ounce of credit to Catholics.Read more ›
There are several reasons to recommend this book. Firstly it is a good historical drama with a rich cast of interesting characters and contexts. The author is a good narrator and takes us through the stories briskly and thoroughly. He gives enough detail to make the point, and if you need further evidence there is a useful reference list as well.
Secondly this book is good at separating the events that happened during the middle ages from the myths and pejorative labels that have been attached to the middle ages by later observers for their own purposes. This book shows that there were never many believers in a flat earth. This book shows that the Christian milieu provided a fertile growing ground for science and was not opposed to science. Conflicts between a literal reading of the bible and science were resolved sensibly and quickly.
The people living in the middle ages did not know they were in the middle of anything. They were humans with their own strengths and weaknesses trying to make sense of the world they found themselves in. They struggled with this as well as they could do and made huge intellectual and technological progress, which we in turn have built on. This book is a glorious story of people and how they used knowledge to better their understanding of the world. It is a glorious example of a historian writing to explore and understand how the world appeared to his subjects, rather than to impose his modern views on a past people.
This book increases our respect for the great medieval scholars and their work, and its role in helping us to get to where we are now. It is a great rehabilitation exercise on an often unjustly mocked period of history. I can recommend it highly to other readers.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's certainly true that various authors have, in the past, exaggerated the hostility of Medieval Catholicism towards rational inquiry about nature, and also that a distinction has... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alejandro Jenkins
Do not buy this book. Have a look at this [google Why God's Philosophers did not deserve to be shortlisted for the Royal Society prize]
and then seriously consider if... Read more
“God’s Philosophers” (2009) by James Hannam, PhD is definitely the standard introduction on the topic of natural science during medieval Europe. Read morePublished 6 months ago by JustHistoryThings
I went into this book with little more than typical notions of the "Dark Ages" and was perfectly open to being dissuaded from them. Read morePublished 8 months ago by N. Stevens
My fiance and I simply adore this book. I've wanted to purchase it for years, and I could not be happier that I did. Read morePublished 8 months ago by ChaChaRealSmooth
God Philosophers chronicles science during the Middle Ages and how there was actually good science during this period, contrary to popular belief. Read morePublished 15 months ago by J Martin
The book is very readable, virtually no prior knowledge of history, Chistianity, phylosophy or mathematics is needed. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Daniel N.
Mr. Hannam is a Christian apologist, but, having said that, this is a fascinating history of the evolution of science from the Medieval world of Europe and through Early Modern... Read morePublished on May 14, 2014 by David S. Wellhauser