When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome / Edition 1

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Overview

A thoroughly researched and vivid re-creation of one of the most critical periods in the history of Western religion

The life of Jesus, and the subsequent persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire, have come to define what many of us know about early Christianity. The fervent debate, civil strife, and bloody riots within the Christian community as it was forming, however, is a story that is rarely told. Richard E. Rubenstein takes readers to the streets of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, where a divisive argument over the divinity of Jesus Christ was underway. Ruled by a Christian emperor, followers of Jesus no longer feared for the survival of their monotheistic faith, but they found themselves in different camps—led by two charismatic men—on the topic of Christian theology. Arius, an Alexandrian priest and poet, preached that Jesus, though holy, is less than God, while Athanasius, a brilliant and violent bishop, saw any diminution of Jesus' godhead as the work of the devil. Between them stood Alexander, the powerful Bishop of Alexandria, in search of a solution that would keep the empire united and the Christian faith alive.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Rubenstein] has taken one of the major religious controversies of the early Christian church, a controversy that consumed its energies for most of the fourth century, and turned it into a flesh-and-blood encounter of real people that reads like an adventure story."-The Christian Science Monitor
"A splendidly dramatic story . . . Rubenstein has turned one of the great fights of history into an engrossing story."-Jack Miles, The Boston Globe; author of God: A Biography
Jack Miles
A splendidly dramatic story...Rubenstein has turned one of the great fights of history into an engrossing story.
The Boston Globe
Christian Science Monitor
[Rubenstein] has taken one of the major religious controversies of the early Christian church, a controversy that consumed its energies for most of the fourth century, and turned it into a flesh-and-blood encounter of real people that reads like an adventure story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156013154
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/10/2000
  • Edition description: First Harvest Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 159,634
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD E. RUBENSTEIN is professor of conflict resolution and public affairs at George Mason University and an expert on religious conflict. A graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, he was a Rhodes Scholar and studied at Oxford University. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi
Acknowledgements xvii
1. An Incident in Alexandria 1
2. The Silence of Apollo 22
3. A Quarrel in God's House 48
4. The Great and Holy Council 68
5. Sins of the Body, Passions of the Mind 89
6. The Broken Chalice 108
7. Death in Constantinople 126
8. East against West 148
9. The Arian Empire 169
10. Old Gods and New 192
11. When Jesus Became God 211
Principal Characters 233
Select Bibliography of Works in English 237
Notes 241
Index 257
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

4 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2002

    Superbly written journalistic account of doctrinal conflict

    One would not have expected a book on early Christian doctrinal controversies by a professor of contemporary conflict resolution to have in the few short years since it was published become almost a bestseller and standard work. One reason for this is the objectivity that an academic outside the normal inner circle of writers on patristics brings to bear on the subject - coupled with the added objectivity that a Jewish (and one suspects agnostic) writer has in treating a controversy that is still live among Christians today. However I feel the real reason for this book's success is in the quality of the writing. Without 'dumbing down' Rubenstein has managed to communicate a substantial amount of information and argument in a compelling, almost novel-like journalistic narrative. This ability to communicate complex ideas and events is where the book really earns its five stars. A third reason why this book has struck a cord is that it fills a void in terms of human treatment of the Arian-Athanasian controversy. Classic historians of dogma such as Harnack concentrate on the ideas to the exclusion of the personalities - which has its place, but not to the point where key events such as Athanasius' murder of Arius by poisoning are ignored (as in some histories of doctrine). Not here - Rubenstein treats the doctrinal battles through the people who fought them. The book naturally does not cover the pagan background (J. G. Griffiths), nor much in the way of source material (W.G. Rusch), nor a scriptural critique of the Trinity (J.H. Broughton or A.F. Buzzard) but what it does cover is done excellently.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted November 26, 2013

    To agree to disagree did not exist or was not even contaplated,

    To agree to disagree did not exist or was not even contaplated, a very good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Recommended for early Christian history buffs

    Here's an interesting take on early Christian church history by a Jewish scholar who is curious about this guy Jesus. Most Christians who ritually speak the creeds of the church probably have no idea about the origin of the words they're uttering. The time frame is the 4th century of the Common Era. The battles, both verbal and physical, then surrounding the choice of words and their meaning is fascinating to follow. Jesus as a great personage in the history of religion is an easily accepted interpretation by Jews and Muslims. The struggles that ended with Jesus being seen as more godlike than human, is worth exploring. This book takes a reader on that journey.

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

    Posted October 11, 2013

    When Jesus Became God

    Unfortunately I have not yet read this story so I don't believe it would be fair to rate this book just yet. This is why I just gave it 3 stars and for no other reason.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2013

    JAKE WALTON REVIEWS IN RESULT 2

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2013

    To Jake walton

    A good idea would be to Reply once and awhile to your readers in the next result

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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