Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review

When Jesus Became God:  The Struggle to Define Christianity  in the Last Days of Rome.

Author:  Richard E. Rubenstein  267 pages

I am well on my way to finishing this book.  A great read that gives a  lot of details about the lives and battles of the Roman Emperors, Caesars and such along with a whole lot of history of the early church.  So far the book has really concentrated on the 300's or the Fourth Century.

It is quite apparent that the Christians have had substantial arguments about the Christ figure and have never gotten along.  When Constantine got involved, the differing opinions about the godness of Jesus were brought into the political arena as Constantine tried to get the differing factions on the same page.  He wanted to unite his empire by using religion.  He may have been quite sincere in his belief in Christianity, as well.

The story is very complicated. The Nicene Creed was being developed.  The anti-Arians described god as "the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only-begotten, tha is, from the ousia of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, homoousios with the Father, through Whom all things came into being."  [page 82]

Frankly, it all sounds like gibberish go me:)  Fortunately, the book does a great job of explaining what the controversy was about.  The Arians were thinking that Jesus was a man that became God through his life's work, the anti-Arians  thought that Jesus was God even though he was a man.  After all, who would want to worship a man, even a great man like Jesus.  Nope, Jesus was God but he was God in human form.

There were lots of opinions floating around and some of them felt that Jesus was a demi-god since he was born of a virgin impregnated by God.  Others thought that Jesus might be ranked as an angel.  This was totally unacceptable to those who worshiped Jesus as God.

In my opinion, no one has ever come up with a theological theory that actually makes sense on this issue so there has been a huge reliance on the mystery of God.

I'm on page 197 and so I have a bit more reading to do but if you want to understand more about late Roman history and the early chapters of the Christian story, this is certainly a book you will want to read.

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