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God Against The Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and… (original 2004; edition 2005)
by Jonathan Kirsch (Author)
God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism by Jonathan Kirsch (2004)
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Did not review when first read
There was some interesting information in there, but most of it I already knew. I also felt there just wasn't enough information most of the time. To top it off, it should really have had a subtitle about how it focuses almost solely on the Western world, and the Roman one in particular. I was really hoping there would be some information about, for example, Arabian polytheism and those peoples' conversion to Islam. But they barely even get a mention, which was disappointing. And what about the combination of colonization and conversion to monotheism that went on in many African and South American countries? Nothing.
Although a serviceable account of the struggle between polytheism and monotheism in the Mediterranean region, principally from the time of Josiah to the death of Julian, the books cover promises more than the text delivers. This reader was disappointed that Kirsch did not address directly the question as to why Christianity, a minority religion, triumphed over paganism so quickly after the death of Julian. The author mentions, almost in passing, that Roman emperors had totalitarian powers as if that was an obvious and inarguable explanation for the phenomenon without demonstrating that it was true or why it inevitably led to the effective end of monotheism.
A superficial and boring account of monotheism and polytheism in antiquity. It doesn't even come close to living up to its fancy title. The book contains miscellaneous historical anecdotes but not any serious or original historical research. The author fails to put his strange mixture of stories into a broader perspective.
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Wikipedia in English (2)
In this ... book, [the author] explores the final struggle between monotheism and polytheism in the ancient world, a war that was fought by a series of charismatic, visionary but also violent monarchs in the name of the One True God - an Egyptian pharaoh, a Jewish king, and two Roman emperors. Contrary to the conventional wisdom of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the world of classical paganism was not steeped in sin. In fact, [according to the author], religious liberty and diversity were core values of classical paganism, and it was monotheism that introduced the terrors of true belief, including holy war, martyrdom, inquisitions, and crusades.-Dust jacket.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)291.14Religions Other Religions Comparative Religion; Mythology (No Longer Used) Mythologies Categories of Religion
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