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A World Full of Gods: The Strange Triumph of Christianity





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About the book:

A World Full of Gods: The Strange Triumph of Christianity by Keith Hopkins is a rollicking work of revisionist history about Christianity's ascent as the dominant religion of the West. In its tour of Roman paganism, Judaism, Christianity, and Gnosticism, A World Full of Gods employs a range of techniques of description, analysis, and historical reportage. The first chapter is a report from two time-travelers visiting Pompeii just before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius; soon after comes a description of the ascetic Jewish sect at Qumran that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls--in the form of a TV drama. Hopkins, a professor of ancient history at King's College, Cambridge, justifies his experimental style by asserting that "to reexperience the thoughts, feelings, practices, and images of religious life in the Roman empire, in which orthodox Christianity emerged in all its vibrant variety, we have to combine ancient perceptions, however partial, with modern understandings, however misleading." Rather than presenting a focused argument, A World Full of Gods offers immersion in a sensibility--a history of Christianity that has little interest in the historical Jesus and instead traces the influence of imagination on the growth of Christianity. Jesus, Hopkins argues, "is not just, nor even primarily, a historical person. Rather, like the sacred heroes of other great religions, he is a mirage, an image in believers' minds, shaped but not confined by the images projected in the canonical gospels." --Michael Joseph Gross

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