The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World
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The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

4.6 out of 5 stars 810 ratings

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Product details

Listening Length 9 hours and 19 minutes
Author Catherine Nixey
Narrator Lalla Ward
Audible.in Release Date 14 June 2018
Publisher Macmillan Digital Audio
Program Type Audiobook
Version Unabridged
Language English
ASIN B07B8VDWLK
Best Sellers Rank #7,930 in Audible Audiobooks & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Audiobooks & Originals)
#4 in Ancient & Classical Roman History
#8 in Christian Church & Church Leadership
#17 in History of Religion (Audible Audiobooks & Originals)

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
810 global ratings
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Reviewed in India on 10 June 2018
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Top reviews from other countries

nothingsperfect
5.0 out of 5 stars Contrary to what Christian apologists would have us believe, the early history of Christianity wasn't about tolerance, empathy and understanding. It tolerated no religion but its own. Paganism and philosophy was characterised as lies from Satan and should be treated as such.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 August 2018
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Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile, informative read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 July 2018
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Gingerdad
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, ahistorical and repetetive
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 May 2019
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25 people found this helpful
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markr
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, sad and timely
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 January 2019
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Djilly L.
2.0 out of 5 stars About religious and cultural genocide - an overview of the many awful things the Christians did
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 January 2020
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2.0 out of 5 stars About religious and cultural genocide - an overview of the many awful things the Christians did
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 January 2020
I am interested to learn more about the spread of Christianity in Europe - not one of the most obvious or popular topics these days. But it is right up my historical alley as I, first of all, got an ever growing interest in classical history. And secondly I am quite fascinated by the early middle ages and so called European ‘dark ages’. So that's why I picked up this book, that I read with growing amazement.

This book is built on an interesting concept that is brought to you with passion, a lot of passion. And therefore it reads very well as it is full of colourful descriptions of events. However it only reads easily as long as you don’t start to question the writers’ narrative and arguments. It is immediately clear that the writer has a strong bias in favour of the pagans, which is reflected throughout the book.
Now, I have a fairly neutral opinion on Christians, and I’m more sceptical about religions in general. And indeed the early Christians weren’t the nicest bunch of people, they forced non-believers to accept their religion and convert or face torture and ultimately execution. This was enforced by spying on communities, even on bishops themselves. Ect ect. However when you think of it, not all aspects of the rise of Christianity have been negative. It did wonders for female emancipation (the early church was driven by women). It paved the way for humanism. It curbed the power of totalitarian rulers. It redistributed wealth. And even though corrupt and infective, it often was the only institution to support charity in communities.

The Darkening Age describes the period that followed the supposed collapse of civilization (i.e. the gradual fall of the Roman Empire over the period of about 30 AD to about 500 AD. Well.. first of all, there might be something wrong with that statement. While culture, art and science did take a step back, civilisation didn’t collapse; Romans and Roman governmental structures were still around in France and England in about 500-600 AD, even though the centrally organised empire withdrew. Constantinople, though a Christian city, was very Roman at heart and lasted until 1453. Moreover, important elements of the Roman culture and governance were simply adopted by the church.

The book explains how the polytheist faith Roman empire eventually transformed into a monotheist Christian society – rather surprisingly from what was at first a tiny, fanatical much-despised sect - a “degenerate sort of cult” as Pliny referred to it! The book however portrays the early Christian church, as an institution of fanatic, hypocritical people rather than gentle, open-minded ‘love your neighbour’ type of worshippers. It furthermore asserts they vigorously and purposely destroyed all aspects of the former Roman culture and religion. Well, that’s an very interesting notion. First of all, you can’t judge historical decisions by todays‘ moral standards. And tolerance wasn’t a very popular concept until a couple of hundred years ago. Secondly, historical intolerance was the essence of most monotheist religions.. until some people got enlightened. Thirdly, I wonder whether there was really a clearly outlined 'project' to destroy the non-Christian culture and thinking.

A big point is made of the Christian destruction of the largest repository of knowledge and history – the library at Alexandria. There is nothing to counter that factually. Apart from the issue that if it wasn’t the result of a Christian riot, it would have been naïve to think the library would still be intact today after subsequent Egyptian invasions of Arabs, Mongols Turks, the rule of Mamelukes or the WW2 bombing raid on Alexandria.
Similarly it’s a little naïve to think that the promotion of Christendom less barbaric, less intolerant that what we’ve seen from most other religions. Small extremist groups usually have to rely on radical methods to have an impact. It goes a bit far to push this all on Christianity - it’s a common habit seen throughout history for the supposedly "right" to wipe out or correct those that think differently. You even see it between generations. At the same time I’m sure there that throughout the centuries there has been a lot of saint-washing of what actually happened during the conversion to Christianity. And without doubt have the wrong perception of a lot events. But this book could easily put you on the wrong foot as well as many things remain unsubstantiated.

For example the book suggests that during the dark ages Christianity held absolute power, and pushed for destruction of the classical world. Yet until around the year 1000 Christianity itself wasn’t in a safe and established place at all. There was centralisation but it did not have such a pronounced and far reach as it had in the later middle ages. There generally wasn’t a clear distinction between the local church and kingly power. And in many countries across Europe including France and Germany there were large swathes of pagans that could have easily tilted the balance in their favour. Let alone the Islam invasion in Spain and the Mongol invasions later on.
And to suggest that Roman culture was one “of excess without shame” to which Christianity counteracted is quite blunt. Yes in Rome had less restraint with respect to sexuality and perhaps cruelty. However shame was a very serious thing in Rome, reputational- or family shame was a big taboo and a big driver of historic events. Was there excess of wealth? yes, in the early empire by the time Constantine took the throne which kickstarted the adoption of Christianity it already lost parts of its former holding and silver in the denarius was less than 5% than it was at the peak.
Oh well, I can go on. But what I’m trying to say is that the book takes a strong stance, makes provocative statements while it pulls many things out of context. Just be aware of that. Don’t take everything that is written for granted even when it is well-phrased - including what I put down here.
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