‘The Closing of the Western Mind’ by Charles Freeman – A Book Review

The Closing of the Western Mind; The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason

By Charles Freeman, published 2002

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For anyone who is interested in the roots of Christianity, how it developed, and eventually swept the Western world, this book is the book to read. Greek philosophical tradition and paganism, were the losers.

To me personally, the most interesting chapters in the book, were those which dealt with the way in which a particular sect of Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire; Roman Catholicism.  It was largely because of political expediency; more power and control over the masses, by Roman emperors. I was fascinated by  the fierce in-fighting surrounding the  ‘correct’ early  interpretation and establishment of Christian dogma, as early as the 4th Century ACE.  It largely centred around the ‘Godhead’ of Christianity: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and whether or not all three were as ‘one’ or of three levels, (to put it very simply).  Part of the problem was that early Christian dogma was formulated from several different sources: scriptures, gospels, old testament, Greek philosophy, Hebrew, Latin and Greek translations.  Also  taken into account was the life and status of Jesus, and in this case, there were so many disputed ‘facts’ about who he was and how he lived, that it appears the Jesus we know, could have been a ‘collage’ of several different prophets or holy men who lived around the same time.

In the book, Freeman writes about Emperor Julian (who ruled from 361) – Dismayed by the vicious infighting he saw around him…Experience had taught him that no wild beasts are so dangerous to man as Christians are to one another.  Ammianus Marcellinus further suggests that  Emperor Julian believed that the Christians left to themselves would simply tear each other apart. Julian was well aware of the brutality of Christian generals and emperors.

-Anne Frandi-Coory 27 October 2011

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One more review of many:

“One of the best books to date on the development of Christianity…beautifully written and impressively annotated, this is an indispensible read for anyone interested in the roots of Christianity and its implications for our modern world view….Essential.”

-Choice

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