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Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three…

Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided…

by John Philip Jenkins

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For those that think that the church councils and creeds were created out of the ether without a context or history this book is a good learning experience. This work intends to show that significant political forces were at work during the church councils. Also, it seeks to demonstrate that substantive theological arguments did not have a large impact on the decisions of church councils. Overall, I think this book makes a passionate case for these ideas, and has a compelling narrative. Thus, a good layman's overview of the era. ( )
  aevaughn | May 2, 2016 |
This book details how the political maneuverings in the 5th century affected what is officially thought and taught about Jesus. It's all quite complicated and bloody, filled with armies of monks marauding across Europe and the Middle East, and all over philosophical differences so slight I can hardly keep them straight. Alas, this book delves deep into convoluted details of theology, which I could not possibly care less about, and so I gave it up on page 23. I skimmed forward and found that various battles, massacres, and historical personages do get page time, but it seems the book skips around in time a good deal and gets far more detailed in some areas than others. If you're truly interested in the antecedents of Christianity, and you're willing to put up with numerous pages arguing about whether Jesus had a mom, then this is the book for you. As someone looking for more history than philosophy, this didn't work for me. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Wow what a struggle to determine if Jesus was divine or was he human or was he
both. Nestorius advocated the two natures theory but even though he was accused of being a heretic his view ultimately prevailed over the one nature (divine) theory. I had no idea how contentious this was. I thought the Council of Nicea had resolved everthing but it was ot that simple.

Also, just finished the Jesus Wars. The titanic struggle from 300 AD to about 500 AD over whether Jesus had just one nature (divine) or two natures (divine and human). I had never thought of some of these questions that were raised. For example, one group argued Jesus did not become Divine until he was baptised. Was Jesus the Mother of God or just the mother of the huiman Jesus. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
There were enough good things about this book that I gave it 3.5 stars, but in its attempt to cram a lot of material into a densely packed book it jumped around historically more than it should have. While the writing was fairly engaging at times, it needed to be longer or broken up into more than one book as it doesn't really cover the entire time these disputes occured, although it aptly points out that these same basic disagreements continue to the present.

Although they cover different time periods so aren't exactly the same, How Jesus Became God is better done as far as limiting its topic and keeping the uninitiated reader on track with the five w's being covered (who, what, why, etc). ( )
  Karin7 | Jan 20, 2016 |
This book is a brisk review of the religious controversies that racked Christianity from the Council of Nicea in the early fourth century until the Council of Chalcedon in the middle of the fifth century -- and for some time thereafter. The controversies were about theological issues centered on the nature of Christ, but the way in which they played out was very, very political. The author contends that eventual triumph of orthodox Christianity (the root of both Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christianity) was in large part a matter of chance -- who was doing what to whom at what moment in time. He also contends that these issues still have impact today; as an agnostic, I find that less convincing. What is fascinating (and well described) is the passion and violence with which groups of people acted to dominate other groups of people, even when the issue seems arcane to a modern reader. The issues may change, but human nature, it appears, remains the same. ( )
  annbury | Nov 2, 2012 |
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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. --from publisher description… (more)

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