- Paperback: 48 pages
- Publisher: Nimble Books (March 18, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 193484036X
- ISBN-13: 978-1934840368
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,757,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Revolutionary Strategies in Early Christianity: 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) Against the Roman Empire, and the Counterinsurgency (COIN) Campaign to Save It Paperback – March 18, 2008
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My background in these areas is very limited, and alphabet-soup of strategic theories (PISRR, OODA, etc.) can be intimidating. Fortunatly, Strategies takes each theory one step at a time and makes it easy for laypersons to comprehend things like a 'Penetrate-Isloate-Subvert/Subdue-Reorient-Reharmonize' loop. This is the book's biggest strength in my opinion. Many, if not most, of its complex ideas are best illustrated graphically, and Abbott is not afraid to supplement his explanations with a plethora of clear, simply constructed graphs and charts. Even if early Christianity in particular is not of interest to you, Strategies is worth picking up just for the clear explanations of military theory that is relevant in today's political debates - Counter-Insurgency Operations (COIN) in particular. Other examples, such as Vichy France and IMB, assist the reader's understanding.
Its hard to quibble with Abbott's theory. I would have liked a slightly longer book, that supported some of his claims more. Descriptively, 4GW has great explanatory power for the rise of Christianity in Rome, but its difficult for me to believe that the apostles had the strategic co-option of the Empire in mind when they penned Matthew 5:41, Ephesians 1:10 or 1 Timothy 2:12. Strategies is for the most part a work of political science and history, but it slides into theology at points, especially in Chapter 7. Although Abbott is right, some more support for his characterizations of the world's three major religions is needed. It wouldn't be too difficult for someone wanting to pick a fight to find Islamic thinkers opposed to legalism or to bring up 2.256 in the Koran.
However, these problems are only a couple steps about spotting typos. The book is a must for anyone with an interest in broad war theory, counter-insurgency and the rise of Christianity, and makes current ideas accessible to those with little background in them.
"By ruling out destruction, conquest, and neutralization, the Apostle [Paul] and the Christ forced the faithful to co-opt the Empire. Roman counter-insurgency (COIN) experience had taught the Empire how to defeat enemies who hated it, but not how to vanquish an enemy that loved it. And indeed, by AD 313 the Roman Empire had submitted itself to the Christian faith. The Christians accomplished this by denying the Romans the chance to fight in a way they were used to. Rather, the Christians were a functioning 4GW army, relying on a highly-motivated corps of men and women that refused to fall for the tricks of Roman COIN."
tdaxp then provides a good overview of xGW/Generations of War for the reader who is unfamiliar with those concepts.
tdaxp then details how the Christians broke Rome's will to resist, pointing out that The Lord and Paul both understood Roman COIN (Paul was part of the Temple Police and an experienced persecutor/suppressor of troublesome minorities. Whether he was the first COIN operator to see the Light is unrecorded). Rome couldn't be be defeated in conventional battle by any means a Jewish sect had at its disposal. The long record of failed Jewish revolts from Pompey the Great to Hadrian both before and after The Lord's life demonstrated that clearly (to everyone but the Jews that is). tdaxp argues that Christianity had to adopt an alternate strategy. Time would wear down the Roman state. If Christianity could avoid being physically wiped out by Rome, it would eventually win.
tdaxp argues that some Roman authorities and quislings saw this. One quisling, Joseph Caiaphas, the priest responsible for the Crucifixion, clearly saw The Lord's political threat:
"And one of them, [named] Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not."
Where Caiaphas saw the end of the Jewish nation (and the rule of the Sadducees), Diocletian saw the end of Rome. tdaxp argues that this was because the early Church would replace the Roman system where the state and human male authority figures was supreme over religion with a system where the state and human relationships were subject to the ultimate authority of God (even if God commanded that Christians should subordinate themselves to the state, God would still be the one offering the marching orders). Caiaphas and Diocletian decided that if a few undesirables had to die to keep the Roman power architecture alive than that was an acceptable price to pay. Pilate plays the Diocletian role in Taylor Caldwell's novel I, Judas. When Pilate's wife implores him not to execute Jesus, Pilate recognizes that Jesus's subversion is not a parochial Jewish problem but a Roman problem as well: this obscure carpenter's message can infect Gentile as well as Jew. Pilate orders Jesus's execution because of this accurate perception of the threat.
tdaxp has a section I found particularly useful on the subversive power of women, an aspect of warfare that's overlooked by most war commentators (a notable exception is Kautilya in The Arthashastra). Paul designed a strategy that used men, argues tdaxp, to spread the Good News in a loose network and women to form tight networks to support raising children for Christ. The family, instead of being an extension of the Roman state with the pater familias standing in for the Emperor, would become a subversive breeding ground for the Christian anti-state. I've seen similar arguments that one reason orthodox Christianity won out over its heretical variants like Gnosticism is that it gave women a valuable role (and played a valuable role by domesticating the male of the species).
When Constantine made Christianity his new tool in solidifying his control over the Rome (Under this sign (the cross) you shall conquer), the Christians were able, with occasional bumps like Julian the Apostate), to use the machinery of state to spread catholic (whole) and orthodox (true) Christianity at the expense of pagans and heretics. Christianity had roadblocks in the future, facing the integrated vendor solution of Islam but that was the burden of incumbency, not of subversion.
Read the whole thing for the surprise conclusion.