Yet this Christology, which I take for granted, came at the cost of many lives and centuries of debate, schism and reconciliation. Unfortunately, this did not settle matters, and it took another couple hundred years where the two views see-sawed in dominance and bishops met at several more councils before the Two Nature belief triumphed. The behavior of Christians of this era was like that of radical Muslims of today. The general medieval belief was that “earthly error had cosmic implications.” (p. 127) Thus, a government that tolerated sin and heresy would be punished by God with natural catastrophes, plagues, and defeat in war. hummm our current trend towa. For example, the Egyptians “followed the kind of religious approach that was familiar and customary in their church [….] How did Christians go about constructing what is today regarded as orthodoxy? However, the movie also takes liberties with The Bible, which at times makes it a compelling perspective on the most influential person in history. Profound! Adelina Alexe is a Ph.D. student in systematic theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. It is a bit typical of modern (Western) Christians to narrow in on the Council of Nicea while missing the grander picture. In contrast, many modern believers struggle with contemplating a Jesus who is more than human.” (p. 275). In the plethora of current works on non-orthodox early movements from the likes of excellent scholars such Bart Ehrman and Elaine Pagel (plus the absurd novels of Dan Brown and his imitators, which I shutter to mention in the same sentence), there has been precious little recent consideration of the establishment of Christian orthodoxy from a historical perspective. 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. Jesus Wars is one such book. The ‘second round’ of this protracted Christological struggle is the focus of a new book by Philip Jenkins titled Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years (HarperOne, 2010). Still, he admits that the Scriptures in general and the Gospels in particular are inconsistent in their narratives about Jesus’s life. But the death the following year of the Eastern emperor, Theodosius II, who believed the One Nature account, and the support of Pope Leo, among others, led to the Council of Chalcedon where the creed of the 4th century councils at Nicaea and Constantinople were affirmed. Some formal unity was achieved in 433, after two years of reconciliatory negotiations. Jenkins has a very folksy way of going about describing the machinations of the 4-6th centuries, honing in of the religious controversy between mono- and dyophysitism within Christianity, and the political climate during those centuries. But in a world where it was sincerely believed that believing the, I had seen a review of this book, and duly checked it out of the library; who knew that Church controversies of the 5th century could be so interesting, and so much fun to read? Any study of the history of Christianity will lead one to realize just what a human-constructed faith it is, and how detrimental it has been to the development of mature political and social structures since the Roman Empire. The rebels make a desperate attempt to escape. What struck me was just how violently Christians attacked one another over the smallest variation in whatever was the "orthodox" view of the moment. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots. The title is self explanatory: Jenkin's is looking to show how 9 people (Patriarchs, Queens and Emperors) decided what sort of Christian doctrine would win out in the end as the world moved towards our current age. Jesus Prays for His Disciples – John 17:6-19. The last major council of the fifth Century, Chalcedon, took place in 451 and was attended by some five hundred bishops. The Problem This book details how the political maneuverings in the 5th century affected what is officially thought and taught about Jesus. As someone looking for more history than philosophy, this didn't work for me. In 1978, he obtained his doctorate in history, also from Cambridge. Jenkins demonstrates complete command of his material, which is always presented in a balanced, concise manner. What an accomplishment! by Philip Jenkins. The One Nature crowd, using violent gangs and forceful intimidation at this council, thought they were triumphant. Jesus Wars is a must for the bookshelf of those who enjoy the work of Jared Diamond, Karen Armstrong, … Director: J.J. Abrams Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Keri Russell, Mark Hamill, Naomi Ackie, Lupita Nyong'o, Billy Dee Williams, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid Running Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes Of course a quick glance at the appendix reveals a larger list of characters who are inevitably enveloped in this historical narrative (and one should reserve the need to access this appendix often if they are to make their way through to the end of this somewhat disorganized material). With Khalid Kelly, Aaron D. Taylor, Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad Fostok, Sam Harris. That, probably, was the level at which the baker and the money changer carried on their debates.” (p. 66). Was he a man? Stop your fighting—and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” (Psalm 46:9, 10 HCSB) This is clearly a … Into that breach steps Philip Jenkins with his interesting and readable //Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians would Believe for 1,500 Years//. Those who read it with only skepticism will miss his ending in which he understands that God works through our messy history. I appreciated the endnotes and appendices that summarize various ecumenical councils, the leading players, and the various gradations of interpretation of the supposed relationship between Jesus and the Hebrew god (or how does one put it). I wish there was some way I could know. The ones who walked beside Him on the journey, the ones who left everything to follow Him, the ones who shared meals with Him and watched Him perform miracles. The term ‘Jesus Wars’ … If the horse of emperor Theodosius II had not stumbled, Chalcedon might have never happened, and the Catholic Church might not have flourished while the Eastern Church declined? In 268, the church dismissed the word as heretical nonsense; sixty years later, it was the watchword for unifying orthodoxy.”, Thought Provoking Books Every Christian Should Read, Must Read Books for the Thinking Christian, Goodreads Members Suggest: 32 ‘Vacation’ Reads. I am glad I did, because I now have a single volume popular history on the late antique church councils and the politics that surrounded them that I can pass on to others as a good book. In 1978, he obtained his doctorate in history, also from Cambridge. "Review Of "Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, And Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe For The Next 1,500 Years" By P. Jenkins". Mob actions such as beatings or kidnappings were endorsed by influential figures like Cyril and Athanasius. If one thinks about how the Church decided what was normative in belief at all, one imagines conferences with debate teams, with everyone working out their differences amicably. Touching down in four hotbeds of religious fundamentalism - Pakistan, Lebanon, UK, and heartland … This book poses us to reality of what was happening surrounding the Christological dogma. It is both over-simplified and under-simplified. In Antioch, where historical context informed the interpretation of Scripture, theologians favored a Two Natures Christ. What struck me was just how violently Christians attacked one another over the smallest variation in whatever was the "orthodox" view of the moment. Jenkins discusses the Christological debates leading up to the Chalcedon Creed and beyond; the book centers around the fifth century. The Church of Rome would be the one to carry Christianity further, and the debates with Alexandria and the East ceased by default. It is the hope of Jenkin's that he can bring to light the bloodied and politically charged landscape that represented the actual reality of how the Church creeds developed. This is a fantastic, thorough, and fairly neutral historical run through the 3rd-6th centuries of the Christian church. ... It’s been ten years since the last Star Wars movie ... Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a … I skimmed forward and found that vari. This is a nice back door way to get some basic theology while ostensibly reading history. The questions are endless. We’d love your help. Calvin, in contrast, was much more Antiochene in insisting on the reality of both natures, human as well as divine.” (p. 272), Since the sixteenth century, the idea of kenosis (God deliberately relinquishing divine attributes in incarnation), which implied that one of the Persons of the Trinity suffered, has been at the forefront of theology. The winning and so called orthodox doctrines adopted by the church (or, at least the western half of the church), according to Jenkins, are more about the political power and influence of the professors of those doctrines than about the possible spiritual insights and revelations that such professors may or may not have received. While it is good to learn about the post-First Council of Nicea history of the Catholic Church (back when “Catholic” meant basically everybody who was Christian), with all its colorful clerics, Emperors, Princesses and barbarians who affected the development of same, as well as the various Christian Heresies which read like hair-splitting on the sub-atomic level, I guess I was looking for more of a philosophical exploration of the ramifications of the Heresies themselves. Focusing on the seven critical ecumenical councils of the Church, the events leading up to & surrounding each of them, and the key persons involved in forging this history (and its evolving theologies). By mid-sixth century, the Justinian dynasty reinforced the Chalcedon formulations, and regularly persecuted and discriminated against the Monophysites, who eventually reorganized and seceded from the Church. She identified herself with the Theotokos (God-Bearer) mother of Christ, calling herself the Bride of Christ, and acting “almost as matriarch of the church, as well as Augusta. Why would you describe the debate over the natures of Christ as a war? It reads like a story, but not like a novel. But he is very clear-eyed and honest about the darker side of church history. Alexandrian theologians, influenced by the Egyptian culture and the Greek philosophical heritage, read the Bible allegorically, and fought for a One Nature Christ. Of course a quick glance at the appendix reveals a larger list of characters who are inevitably enveloped in this historical narrative (and one. Assassinations were too common, and tens of thousands of Christians died battling other Christians. Theodosius I declared Christianity the official religion of the empire, and enforced religious conformity. Jenkins shows us why loyalty to, say, Monophysite ideas could inspire violence, treason and martyrdom. While the subject matter may seem to be a rebuff to religion in general pointing to violence engendered by debates over transcendent subjects, the distillation actually produces a potent brew of providential governance for those who view the subject through faith filled eyes. In Jesus Wars, he takes one of the most complex, abstruse questions in the history of the Western World and make it clear enough for the average joe in the fifth pew to understand. I had seen a review of this book, and duly checked it out of the library; who knew that Church controversies of the 5th century could be so interesting, and so much fun to read? Their emphasis on the historicity of the text brought into relief the humanity of Jesus, and therefore both his divinity and his humanity were upheld as biblical truth. Or if Mary were not considered the “Mother of God” and instead only the “Mother of Christ?” How would that have affected the development of the Church and, thus, the development of Western civilization through the Middle Ages (when the Church was preeminent in Europe) and beyond? What an accomplishment! Dr. Jenkins includes maps at the beginning and several appendices that list the dramatis personae, briefly explain the outcomes of the several councils, and define the beliefs of various groups, but a more visual representation of the timeline would have been helpful, too. They routinely attacked pagan temples, fought against any beliefs and practices suggesting loyalty to multiple gods, and were aggressive towards Christians whom they perceived as compromising the oneness of God (hence their hatred of the Two Natures Christians). Sunday Salon – Review of “Jesus Wars” by Philip Jenkins. I admit that I was extremely skeptical when I first saw it, assuming it to be some sort of modern nonsense on how Constantine created Christianity or something like that. I am absolutely fascinated with the Roman Empire. This is a fantastic, thorough, and fairly neutral historical run through the 3rd-6th centuries of the Christian church. Jesus Wars is one such book. It rejected Dioscuros of Alexandria and the One Nature teaching, declared that Jesus had two natures (the hypostatic union of the divine and human), and attributed Mary the title of Mother of Christ (both of the human and divine incarnate Christ, but not of the eternal God). 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. Ironically, the See of Rome, who participated in dispossessing Nestorius, now favored a Two Natures Christ (granted, in a modified form than Nestorius’s) over the former Alexandrian ally. It was Reimarus, writing in the 18th century, who basically invented the modern Jesus wars, by postulating a gulf between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. This is like a 200 level history course on the history of the Church councils during the 5th century. In addition, Alexandria and Antioch were no more theologically united after First Ephesus than before. These patriarchates were involved in very heated debates regarding the nature of Christ, the Trinity, and the nature of Mary, the mother of Christ? Imperial forces were present to forestall violence. The complex issues of Christology are addressed comprehensively by mashing up the various theological councils from the fourth though seventh centuries and their resulting creeds. The Christian patriarchate in Egypt acted almost as a theocracy, asserting its authority over the civil sphere when the latter was seen as contradicting the divine will. While Jenkins is most comfortable with the theology, he is clearer in the socio-political context of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Centuries. If the victorious Emperor or Queen happened to like your Christology, then you got more support and votes at the council. But mostly it is about the battles within the Church about what people were supposed to believe. Barely, the rebels jump to light speed. Since seeing the film in the theaters opening night and writing the above review, I've seen it several more times, including in 3D on IMAX and in its 4K UHD presentation here. For the union … of two natures has been accomplished.” (p. 160), Pope Leo of Rome, through the skilled Tome, provided overwhelming arguments for the two natures of Christ. Subscribe. She became leader … of an extravagant cult devoted to Mary, and together with her following of virgins and holy women, she played a visible role in the public liturgies.” (p. 117-118). This book is an eye-opener for Christians who are engaged in church conflict over theological issues. At work were cultural aspects too. Choice. by HarperOne. I wish I could take half a star: first, the author only balks about the violence and tyranny involved in the Christological debates, not at the idolatry and superstition already constituting a kind of Christopaganism usually associated with latter Dark Age; second, he ends up commemorating Chalcedon without telling us if its (kinda) triumph was better than the alternatives, and why. Rather than thinking through the implications of theology, they followed personalities and names: they were Cyril’s party, or Dioscuros’s.” (p. 66) “Ideological debate became a game of guilt by association.” (p. 67) Theological ideas were often summarized in slogans and simple phrases, such as: “We will not divide Christ! John Philip Jenkins was born in Wales in 1952. Chalcedon accomplished both goals. The rivalry between Pulcheria and Nestorius benefitted Cyril of Alexandria, who fiercely defended the Monophysite view that Christ had only one nature—divine. Star Wars: The Last Jedi may be the most polarizing episode in the saga yet. But in a world where it was sincerely believed that believing the wrong thing could remove your hope of Heaven in the next world and your hope of Peace in this world, perhaps the process couldn’t have happened any other way. There is a wealth fo information, and the lists of figures and councils at the end of chapters was appreciated. If one thinks about how the Church decided what was normative in belief at all, one imagines conferences with debate teams, with everyone working out their differences amicably. Truly well done. Eventually, the Muslim population outgrew the Christian communities, who were gradually subjected to discriminatory laws. Jesus Wars is a well-written book. He makes the case for tolerating religious diversity. He tells us about the personalities involved and how their interactions advanced this idea or that faction. Jenkins is always profound in rewriting history. Christian Movie Reviews Christian Blog and Commentary. The formative years of Christianity, when malicious political maneuvering, murder, mob incitement, mayhem, martyrdom, and armies of militant monks split the church, and emperors and empresses helped determine the beliefs we take for granted today. The times had turned, and “Leo’s representatives made it clear that they would not take their seats if Dioscuros was allowed his.” (p. 204) The Egyptians “literally threw themselves on the ground to plead not to be forced to sign Leo’s Tome [saying:] ‘We shall no longer be able to live in the province…. Luther “leaned toward an Alexandrian interpretation of Christ’s role [and] taught that Christ’s divine and human natures experienced an interchange of divine and human qualities …which mingled the two natures in a way that Chalcedonians forbade. To a more objective reader it appears that the evidence for Christ’s divinity is pretty thin, and that makes the struggle for asserting his alleged true identity even more tragic. (p. 174) The attack on Nestorianism resurrected in a war against Antiochism. Aside from their distinguished Christian roots, they boasted of the Egyptian culture—in their view the oldest and most prominent in the world. Popes, patriarchs, abbots and Princes contested for the reputation of their cities and their holy places. I am glad I did, because I now have a single volume popular history on the late antique church councils and the politics that surrounded them that I can pass on to others. Not unlike other eras of development within the life of Christianity, the fifth century proved to be a time of political and religious uncertainty—an instability with profound effects on Christian theology. … [a]fter the union of human and divine, Christ contained no ousia [being] except the divine. By Islam Religion Guardian On May 12, 2020. It is a jumble. One of the striking aspects of this conflict, as Jenkins points out, was its resemblance to religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries and to the religious battles in contemporary Asia, especially the Muslim insurgencies against American occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. DOI: 10.5860/CHOICE.48 … It is boring. I have little respect for Christianity (or any other religion, but Christianity is the one that most affects my culture so I feel more entitled to speak to it). Each side was represented by popes and patriarchs, emperors and empresses, theologians and the masses. I saw Larry Larson reading in the cruise and it peaked my interest. God the Word died! 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. These are fabulous stories and Jenkins shows how these themes have resonated through Christendom for over a thousand years. Book Review: Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years. Another good read on the history of Western culture through the lens of Christianity. 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. I read a lot about Christian history and what most strikes me how hard it was to go from the Jewish cult of Jesus - which sort of made sense in its apocalyptic message, to the post-Jewish cult religion that took shape among the non-Jews. The result is a book that appears to be both digestible and indigestible. Jenkins discusses the Christological debates leading up to the Chalcedon Creed and beyond; the book centers around the fifth century. Focusing on the seven critical ecumenical councils of the Church, the events leading up to & surrounding each of them, and the key persons involved in forging this history (and its evolving theologies). For several hundred years, especially in the 400s and following centuries, the whole world revolved around literal and figurative wars over who Jesus was. “He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He is also a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion. Who was Jesus? Ephesus and Chalcedon were the result of a decades-long war between these two major centers of Christianity. Share. It seems that one faction's heresies are another faction's orthodoxies. Compared to the Old Testament, the Koran is almost a hippy-dippy text.) In late antiquity, the tongues of opponents, even if they were bishops, were cut off, as were right arms. Readers can easily see that Jenkins wrote this book for television. Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome were the “bounding triangle” of early Christianity; Constantinople, on the other hand, was a Christian community without a pagan past. The difficult but critical doctrine that Jesus Christ is two different reflections of the same phenomenon – fully God and fully man in one being – was developed during late antiquity. However, when I saw that the Philip Jenkins is indeed an academic historian with serious credentials, I decided to give the book a read. Given his Christian faith (according to Wikipedia he converted to Episcopalianism from Catholicism), it isn’t surprising that he dismisses doubts that Jesus is God, that such a view is the harbor for cynics. The winning and so called orthodox doctrines adopted by the church (or, at least the western half of t. Jenkins reviews in great detail the history of Christian doctrinal infighting from the first century through the middle-ages, and even currently. This post is inspired by a book I read about early Christian history. Cyril continued to read the Bible allegorically, and insisted on drawing symbolic connections between random passages (for example, he preached the ark of the covenant explained incarnation: “’God the Word was united to the holy Flesh…. This eye-opening read that would have horrified Jesus might serve, if we let it, as a warning about the deadliness (and the soul deadening effects) of our very human attraction to the fun and righteous sport of intolerance. Paul exhorted the church in Ephesus, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. What did they do for a living in Rome? Distinctions that boggle the mind. The One Nature advocates were primarily the patriarchs of Alexandria and the Two Nature supporters were patriarchs from Antioch. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. With no heir to the throne, and a woman being ineligible to rule, Pulcheria married Marcion in order to give the empire a ruler. The complex issues of Christology are addressed comprehensively by mashing up the various theological councils from the fourth though seventh centuries and their resulting creeds. The church depended financially on the state, and the large sums received, through which they could provide social services (and thus buy the loyalty of the Christians), had not a small impact on the shaping of Christian beliefs. His talent in story-telling makes this book easy to read, yet still provokes us to place our world in a world full of disputations. Many educated Westerners have a vague memory that there were councils that produced creeds and definitions and edicts, but most have little understanding of the processes, personalities, and agendas that so greatly shaped Christianity and therefore much of the world's culture. Sadly, the book only touches lightly on these more interesting issues. Note: This book is reviewed by my husband Jim. It is ecclesiastical history written in the way that a modern journalist would report the inside workings of a hard-fought political campaign. Philip Jenkins, a noted scholar of historical and religious studies and professor at Penn State University, examines the political conflicts … Jonathan Merritt’s A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars (FaithWords, 2012) gives voice to many in the millennial generation. I like thinking about it. He was educated at Clare College, in the University of Cambridge, where he took a prestigious “Double First” degree—that is, Double First Class Honors. He was educated at Clare College, in the University of Cambridge, where he took a prestigious “Double First” degree—that is, Double First Class Honors. The debate, however, continued, and by 600 AD the Church had still not achieved unity on the nature of Christ. Gives an "insider look" at the issues and personalities involved, at the forces that shaped and determined the outcome, that gave us the Chalcedonian Statement of Faith, that created the orthodox understanding of orthodox Christianity. I just finished this book. The author of Jesus Wars, Peter Jenkins, who is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University and Distinguished Senior Fellow, Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, … As lines of distinction were drawn, battles waged and people died - in the name of homoiousia or heteroousia among other notions. It is quite fitting that Rogue One was released so close to Christmas as the parallels between the Christmas Story and the Star Wars story seem so similar — minus the violence of course. Nestorius is deemed to have written: “when I found and read this account, I gave thanks to God that the Church of Rome was confessing correctly and without fault, although they were otherwise disposed towards me myself.” While Nestorianism continued to be seen as a heresy, “most of what Nestorius actually viewed now stood an excellent chance of being publicly reaffirmed.” (p. 187). Jenkins covers a huge amount of information that I cannot keep straight without referencing the material. He does so by acknowledging the Christian struggles of the first threee centuries (when the question was whether Jesus was divine), and some of the consequences of those centuries (too briefly mentioning the relation between non-orthodox Christians and Islam in my opinion), yet staying focused on the time and politics in question. He also has a sense of humor that peeps out on occasion "In any theological struggle, the first thousand years are always the bitterest.". In the plethora of current works on non-orthodox early movements from the likes of excellent scholars such Bart Ehrman and Elaine Pagel (plus the absurd novels of Dan Brown and his imitators, which I shutter to mention in the same sentence), there has been precious little recent consideration of the establishment of Christian orthodoxy from a historical perspective. Directed by Stephen Marshall. Jesus was born into a time where the Roman Empire was the most … In Jesus Wars, he explains the origins of some little-known (to Westerners) branches of Christianity, including the churches of Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Armenia, and … Take one Muslim advocate for global jihad and put him in a room with one conservative Christian on a mission to evangelize the world's Muslims. Jesus Wars is a well-written book. 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