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Book Reviews

The Jesus Wars – My review

This isn’t a book for the lay reader. If you’re looking for a thriller filled with blood and gore, with schemes and machinations galore, this isn’t the book for you.

What it is, instead, is a very deep, very erudite, very skilful dissection of the internal politics of the Christian world as it came to terms with its own pre-eminence. It is a study of the factionalism, the inter-personal rivalry, the theological conflicts and the bitter schisms that afflicted the Christian church in a most crucial period in its history – Rome lay dying, pagan barbarians engulfed entire provinces and Islam was waiting in the wings, just a little way ahead in the future.

The issues described are complex, the twists and turns frequent and the minutiae involved very intricate and finely nuanced. You would be well advised to bookmark page 69 (appendix to chapter 2) and page 279 (appendix); you’ll find yourself constantly referring back to these pages to remind yourself of who was who and who believed what and what that belief entailed. Miaphysite, Monophysite, Nestorian? This was a world where whether you believed in homoousios or homoiousios could mean the difference between life and death.Make no mistake, this book demands time and patience.

What you get in return is a very good idea of how Christians sought to, and decided to answer a question that is at the heart of their faith, the very basic question, “Who was Christ?”

This deceptively simple question was what brought people into the streets, armed for war; it turned monks into club wielding thug, it brought Primates of the church to ignominious deaths and emperors on their knees before hermits. It got the greatest centres of the Christian faith, from Rome to Antioch to Alexandria embroiled in a generational war for supremacy that spared no one, from the humblest preachers to the rulers of the land.

The question of the identity of Christ, his divinity and his humanity, the relative proportions thereof, the exact point in his life when he turned Christ from Jesus – these continues to inflame passions and inspire reams of essays and brought about tragic consequences for Christians that would lead to so much more bloodshed in the future. In some ways, as Dr Jenkins notes, this history mimics what has happened in the Islamic world in the recent past. I’m not sure how deeply I believe this assertion, but he isn’t too off the mark either.

The book and the story it narrates is, in its own way, a sweeping epic worthy of George R R Martin. For anyone interested in the origins of modern orthodox Christian doctrine this book is a must-read. I enjoyed it immensely, I hope you do too.



About hbhatnagar

I need to fill this up with much better content than I had populated it with earlier. Why I write a blog maybe? I started blogging in 2009 or thereabouts. I was a newly turned atheist and wanted to converse with others of the same persuasion. We're not exactly a big population group in India! It didn't go very well and I sort of lost interest, posting a few things now and then. I got a lot more regular over the last few months and have been posting almost daily since February '15. There were many reasons why I gradually became more regular in posting, but one way or the other, here I am! So this blog has taken shape, being at different points in time my showcase, my comedy club, my art gallery, my book club, my therapist, my close friend, my innermost self....but always my little corner of the world. You are all welcome to visit and I hope you stay awhile! A few points about me because I don't want to lead anyone on(and trust me this does become an issue more often than I'd care to admit). I'm Indian, the brown-skinned variety; if race, ethnicity or skin colour is an issue, you don't have to get to know me any more than what you see on my blog. I'm 40, so if age is an issue, please be informed accordingly. I was a doctor, an ophthalmic surgeon for 10 years before I quit practice.


15 thoughts on “The Jesus Wars – My review

  1. Another insightful book review, Dr Hb. I’m sure it takes some patience and time, also knowledge to read this book

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Amy | 18/02/2016, 7:40 AM
  2. Well this looks like something right up my alley!! Thanks for the review, I’ll add it to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Uday | 16/02/2016, 11:04 PM
    • Oh, I should have recommended it to you on goodreads itself! I’ll try to keep that in mind next time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by hbhatnagar | 17/02/2016, 6:26 AM
      • Well that’s alright, as long as you review them here I can pick them up 🙂

        I checked this out on Amazon. Looks like you’re the only Indian who’s read it so far 😛 But no Kindle edition, bummer!

        Liked by 1 person

        Posted by Uday | 17/02/2016, 8:52 AM
      • 😀
        Quite possible, but then few Indians bother reviewing their purchases
        BTW, there is a cheaper edition on flipkart if you want to check that out.


        Posted by hbhatnagar | 17/02/2016, 8:57 AM
  3. You might like it… in its simple form.. you agree a Contract with God. All goes well with your life until you break your contract; change your path and if so, all amount of Sh1T! hits your fan!


    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by looneybitch | 16/02/2016, 7:30 PM
  4. Thank you for the recommendation. I just finished Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and this seems to be a good continuation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Otto von Münchow | 16/02/2016, 6:59 PM
  5. Without being flippant ( for a change!) I would say that that is a very interesting Reading Choice for
    an Indian! ex Hindu ? ( maybe not ) but an atheist! Are you thinking of coming over to the dark side…..

    The Catholic Church is built on fear and, as someone (you?) said on here, without religion, the whole world would have dissolved into anarchy. I have passed this onto my friend who has just finished reading about the Seven Covenants. Again more scary propaganda

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by looneybitch | 16/02/2016, 2:31 PM
    • I read a lot on religion, including but not limited to Christianity. Hindu, yes, and atheist. I would reply to that and say that religion has done a bang up job on its own, we don’t need it to preserve the peace, such that it is.
      What is the seven covenants about? Another book for my reading list? 🙂


      Posted by hbhatnagar | 16/02/2016, 3:02 PM

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