Saving Paradise - How Christianity traded love of this world for crucifixion and empire
by Nakashima Brock, Rita and Parker, Rebecca Ann
pub. by Beacon Press, Boston, USA - 2008      isbn 978-0-8070-6754-3 - - 552 p. - - extensive notes p. 425 - 515 -- index p.517 - 552 - - pictures b&w -
During the first 900 years of Christianity religious art did not depict the crucified Jesus. There were no crucifixes and literature did not dwell on the suffering death of Christ. Instead early Christianity celebrated the creation of the Christian community and the prospect of living in heaven, including withing the Christian community living in as close to heaven on earth as could be managed. After Constantine and as Christianity became enmeshed with ruling an the empire of the west (Rome), the idea of suffering and the price paid for sin, and how it could be expiated by personal suffering took hold.
The authors say much about the excesses of the time of Charlemagne and after. They also cross the Atlantic and have much to say about how the Pilgrims in New England preached and lived. The last chapter brings their ideas up to date near the publication date (2008).
This book is chock full of very interesting tidbits of history, both in the first millennium and later times. I believe I learned more about history than theology. It challenges what one experienced and experiences as a Christian in the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.
~ 2010-11-27 ~

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