- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (March 9, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061768944
- ISBN-13: 978-0061768941
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 117 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years Hardcover – March 9, 2010
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*Starred Review* The fifth-century Christian church faced a doctrinal issue, now largely forgotten, that precipitated intramural Christian savagery unparalleled until the 11-centuries-later Thirty Years’ War. The bone of contention was the nature of Jesus Christ. That he wasn’t a mere man was indisputable. But was he a human-divine cross-breed, so to speak, or was he purely divine and his human body an illusion? Neither was accepted, but the conclusion of the council of Chalcedon in 451 that he was fully divine and fully human—that is, said dissidents, of two natures—incensed those who held he was of one nature, entirely divine. The fight broke out well before Chalcedon, entailing the death-from-assault of the patriarch of Constantinople during the 449 council of Ephesus, thereafter disowned as the “Gangster Synod.” Chalcedon eventually triumphed, but not until well after 250 years of intermittent violence in which monks behaved like the Waffen SS. Jenkins condenses centuries of church and imperial strife with admirable clarity despite the continuous blizzard of historical names and ecclesiastical terms the narrative entails. He suggests that this era, not the later Dark and Middle Ages, is the most violent (un-Christian?) in Christian history and that it may have lessons for the present and future conflict between Christians and Muslims over the nature of God. --Ray Olson
“Are you hungry for a rip-roaring tale of theological intrigue filled with conspiracies, Byzantine plots, murder, and mayhem? Or are you longing for a solid, informative, and accurate history of the development of Christian orthodoxy? If your answer is yes to both, Philip Jenkins’s Jesus Wars...is your book.” (Christianity Today)
“Jenkins...has done a remarkable job of documenting this little-understood slice of history. There’s lots of excitement and plenty of intrigue, and Jenkins does a fine job in his recitation of this strange story.” (Publishers Weekly)
“In showing general readers how he finds fresh ideas and the resurrections of past teachings invigorating to religious studies, Jenkins provides an accessible book . . . the book enlightens readers on the backstory to current Christian divisions . . . ” (Library Journal)
“Jenkins condenses centuries of church and imperial strife with admirable clarity...” (Booklist (starred review))
“Jenkins manages to explain very clearly why people in the early Christian era were so passionately concerned with issues of high theology.” (The Economist)
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It has taken us some 14 centuries to recover from this period, but, as they say, slow but steady wins the race.
The history of the Christian Church is bloody conflict over the nuances and fine points of whether Jesus was all divine (monophysite) or of dual natures (God and man) or some combination or whether He fit in some third category. Being on the losing side of the arguments could cost you your home, possessions, bishopric, or throne, or could result in your torture and death. And if that wasn't good enough, then how about a little desecration to go along with it. Many were burned alive by other Christians who were hell bent (literally) on perfecting dogma by rooting out the apostates. This went on for centuries until the Christians discovered they could spend more useful time flogging and burning and looting and torturing and desecrating Muslims.
It all started when someone 2,000 years wrote a Biblical gospel that had Jesus ask, "Who do you say that I am" which doomed the Christian Church to centuries (if not millennia) to conflict, murder, assignation, torture and war until heterodoxy become "orthodoxy" and each changed places over and over as the conflicts never seem to end.
My guess is that is why Jesus never wrote anything.
And, he does this mostly without theological discourse or expressing a personal opinion but rather quoting the historic facts and words of the personages concerned. The book is well researched.
One is left asking the question Jesus, himself, asked: Luke 6:44 ". . . . For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes."
"The Jesus Wars" should be required reading at all theological colleges.