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barca

The Darkening Age by Catherine Nixey

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Catherine Nixey’s The Darkening Age sounds like an interesting and controversial work

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073XBS8S5/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

It has received a number of negative reviews. For example

“If correct, Nixey’s arguments merit a reevaluation of the relationship between Christianity and Western civilization. Her arguments, however, are not sound. She bases her conclusions on faulty premises which illustrate a lack of awareness in three areas: Christianity, history, and logic.” 

https://acton.org/publications/transatlantic/2017/12/22/book-review-darkening-age-catherine-nixey

I’m interested in hearing From all of you. Is it worth reading?

 

 

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I did read Tim O’Neill’s vitriolic review. He almost convinced me that her book was not worth reading. He was on a mission to totally discredit her. As much as he accuses her of biases, he cannot help but show his own biases with a very unbalanced review.

having read the book anyway, I found it a compelling read even though there are some imperfections and exaggerations, Nixey should perhaps write a revised version where she addresses all the complaints of her critics.

Edited by barca

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I've changed my views about that romantic myth about "intolerant Christians suppressing those peace-loving, tolerant, and enlightened Pagans."

From the thoughtful article below by Alan Cameron:

 

Quote

Cameron opens his introduction with a quotation from Gibbon about the "ruin of paganism, in the age of Theodosius" as "a singular event in the history of the human mind". He grabs our attention by proclaiming that "the romantic myth" of a class of pagan aristocrats who in the 380s and the following decades were "fearless champions of senatorial privilege, literature lovers, and aficionados of classical (especially Greek) culture as well as traditional cults" must be dismantled.

He proceeds to do so by reconsidering how the history of the period was shaped, what effect the perspective of Christian writers had on creating the false constructs of a "pagan revival" and a "last pagan stand" spearheaded by an aristocracy who, in Cameron's view, were "arrogant, philistine land-grabbers, most of them". To be successful, members of the Roman elite also had to be shrewd, politically adept and pragmatic. This is hardly a pool that would contain many zealous champions of paganism, which, after all, was not even a formal religion. Cameron argues convincingly that few of those whom we now call "pagan aristocrats" self-identified as pagans. Nor did they rally around the usurper Eugenius for religious reasons. And there was no true pagan revolt.

Our age of ever-increasing wealth disparity gives us ample reason to support Cameron's incredulity at the prevailing notion of a senatorial aristocracy devoted to classical culture, literature and philosophy and to collecting and correcting manuscripts. Ironically, Christian leaders such as Jerome and Augustine were truly learned in what we call the Classics. They "could not resist to show off their classical culture when writing to members of the elite, whether pagan or Christian". By contrast, Ammianus Marcellinus, "the most important pagan writer of the age", pillories late 4th-century Roman aristocrats for "arrogance, ostentation, superstition, gluttony, and cruelty". He notes that former houses of what we would call literary patrons now shunned "men of learning and sobriety" and "their libraries are like tombs, permanently closed"

http://sites.utexas.edu/pasp/tag/alan-cameron/

Alan Cameron and his book The Last of the Pagans of Rome were mentioned in this four year old post:

 

guy also known gaius

Edited by guy

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6 hours ago, guy said:

 

 

 

6 hours ago, guy said:

I've changed my views about that romantic myth about "intolerant Christians suppressing those peace-loving, tolerant, and enlightened Pagans."

From the thoughtful article below by Alan Cameron:

 

http://sites.utexas.edu/pasp/tag/alan-cameron/

Alan Cameron and his book The Last of the Pagans of Rome were mentioned in this four year old post:

 

“Christian leaders such as Jerome and Augustine were truly learned in what we call the Classics. They "could not resist to show off their classical culture when writing to members of the elite, whether pagan or Christian". “

Well yes, of course it is well known the St Augustine was steeped in Classical Learning. One doesn’t have to go very far reading his Confessions to see his contempt for the Classical World. For example, he resents having to read Virgil as part of his education. He also expresses his dislike and condemnation of theater.

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17 hours ago, barca said:

I did read Tim O’Neill’s vitriolic review. He almost convinced me that her book was not worth reading. He was on a mission to totally discredit her. As much as he accuses her of biases, he cannot help but show his own biases with a very unbalanced review.

having read the book anyway, I found it a compelling read even though there are some imperfections and exaggerations, Nixey should perhaps write a revised version where she addresses all the complaints of her critics.

Where would be the money in that? She'll write another book on another subject. 

And yep, I wouldn't have read Nixey's book had I seen O'Neill's review first, at no great loss. This reader doesn't really need emotional polemicizing against Christianity to convince himself that it's intolerant etc., the basic tenets of three Abrahamic faiths repel him anyway. Reading Momigliano, both A. Camerons, David Potter, and Peter Brown on the period has much to be recommended over Nixey's own vitriol.

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6 hours ago, barca said:

 

“Christian leaders such as Jerome and Augustine were truly learned in what we call the Classics. They "could not resist to show off their classical culture when writing to members of the elite, whether pagan or Christian". “

Well yes, of course it is well known the St Augustine was steeped in Classical Learning. One doesn’t have to go very far reading his Confessions to see his contempt for the Classical World. For example, he resents having to read Virgil as part of his education. He also expresses his dislike and condemnation of theater.

As a religious skeptic, I don't reflexively defend any faith. That said, I don't have a need to defend the Pagans, either.  What I do criticize is the simplistic dichotomy of the enlightened and tolerant Pagans vs. intolerant and benighted Christians.

Thank you, again, for the inspiration to question some long-held ideas and dogma.

 

guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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Another thoughtful critical review of Catherine Nixey's "The Darkening Age":

 

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/08/book-review-the-darkening-age-catherine-nixey-christians-and-antiquity/

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