Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years

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Overview

Jesus Wars reveals how official, orthodox teaching about Jesus was the product of political maneuvers by a handful of key characters in the fifth century. Jenkins argues that were it not for these controversies, the papacy as we know it would never have come into existence and that today's church could be teaching some-thing very different about Jesus. It is only an accident of history that one group of Roman emperors and militia-wielding bishops defeated another faction.

Christianity claims that Jesus was, somehow, both human and divine. But the Bible is anything but clear about Jesus's true identity. In fact, a wide range of opinions and beliefs about Jesus circulated in the church for four hundred years until allied factions of Roman royalty and church leaders burned cities and killed thousands of people in an unprecedented effort to stamp out heresy.

Jenkins recounts the fascinating, violent story of the church's fifth-century battles over "right belief" that had a far greater impact on the future of Christianity and the world than the much-touted Council of Nicea convened by Constantine a century before.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
“Jenkins condenses centuries of church and imperial strife with admirable clarity...”
The Economist
“Jenkins manages to explain very clearly why people in the early Christian era were so passionately concerned with issues of high theology.”
Christianity Today
“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.”
The Economist
“Jenkins manages to explain very clearly why people in the early Christian era were so passionately concerned with issues of high theology.”
Christianity Today
“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.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Jenkins condenses centuries of church and imperial strife with admirable clarity...”
Library Journal
Jenkins (history & religious studies, Penn State Univ. & Baylor Univ.; The Lost History of Christianity), a well-seasoned scholar of Christianity, focuses here not only on the theological definitions of the nature of Christ, promulgated by various Christian political and ecclesiastical leaders from the fourth through the seventh centuries, but also on the political machinations, violent persecutions, and scheming that made "wars" of these debates. Jenkins includes many helpful tools for the general reader—he's writing here chiefly for interested general readers—listing the many emperors and church councils of the time, along with their chief concerns. An appendix describes important participants in these doctrinal struggles. Jenkins shows that views (e.g., on God's suffering) became somewhat silenced, only to regain vigor, especially in the 16th century and thereafter, which resulted in ancient heresy often becoming modern orthodoxy. VERDICT In showing general readers how he finds fresh ideas and the resurrections of past teachings invigorating to religious studies, Jenkins provides an accessible book, and one with mild suspense and intrigue. Although there is some overgeneralizing, the book enlightens readers on the backstory to current Christian divisions and realignments. Seminary libraries would do well to acquire this as well.—Carolyn M. Craft, emerita, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA
Booklist
"Jenkins condenses centuries of church and imperial strife with admirable clarity..."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061768941
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/9/2010
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 598,578
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Jenkins, the author of The Lost History of Christianity, Jesus Wars, and The Next Christendom, is a Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion. He has published articles and op-ed pieces in The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Washington Post and has been a guest on top national radio shows across the country.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Who Do You Say That I Am?

Terms and Definitions

Maps

1 The Heart of the Matter 1

Pt. 1 God and Caesar 39

2 The War of Two Natures 41

3 Four Horsemen: The Church's Patriarchs 75

4 Queens, Generals, and Emperors 103

Pt. 2 Councils of Chaos 129

5 Not the Mother of God? 131

6 The Death of God 169

7 Chalcedon 199

Pt. 3 A World to Lose 227

8 How the Church Lost Half the World 229

9 What Was Saved 267

Appendix The Main Figures in the Story 279

Notes 289

Index 319

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    MUST READ HIGHLY RECOMMEND

    This is the best book I have read on the history of the Christian faith and church. Clear easy to read well done book. Author is highly credited and has taught this subject his entire life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    I thought the book was well written, using both humopr and intri

    I thought the book was well written, using both humopr and intrigue to show the reader just how turbulent the early church period was.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    Ewww!!

    Didnt care for it

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    50/50

    While the book had several interesting points, I found it hard to follow at times and was a bit bored at times.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted November 17, 2010

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    Posted May 16, 2010

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    Posted April 12, 2011

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    Posted May 5, 2010

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