Has Anyone Read Catherine Nixey's "Darkening Age: Christian Destruction of the Classical Age"?

  • I am thinking that this looks worthwhile, but am wondering if anyone can recommend it or assess just how worthwhile it might be. Wikipedia:


    The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World is a 2018 book by Catherine Nixey. It discusses historical accounts of how early Christianity played a role in the destruction and suppression of culture.[1][2] It has been chosen as one of the New York Times' Notable Book for 2018 and among the book of the year lists of the Telegraph, the Spectator, the Observer, and BBC History Magazine.[3]


  • Yes. It's been a little while, but I seem to remember giving it an enthusiastic (albeit depressing) thumbs up. So much lost momentum by losing the classical learning.


    As I remember, the book opens with a book burning of Epicurean texts.

  • Hi Cassius,


    I am currently working through this book. Unfortunately as I understand it, academic historians do not like to engage in broad sweeping historiographic narratives which may be overly simplistic (the biggest example of this usually given is Edward Gibbon's 1776 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). Apparently Stephen Greenblatts's The Swerve is also held in a similar level of contempt. That being said, I intend to eventually go through it and develop my own opinion, though I am certainly out of my area of expertise here as regards to historical textual criticism and historiography.


    My preconceptions on these kinds of popular histories has been shaped by the historians at these links:


    https://historyforatheists.com/the-great-myths/


    https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHi…roid_app&utm_source=share


    https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHi…roid_app&utm_source=share


    https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHi…roid_app&utm_source=share


    You may want to try "The Triumph of Christianity" by Bart Ehrman instead. Bart is a New Testament scholar who has journeyed from evangelical Christian to liberal Christian to agnostic atheist in the span of his career and writes even-handed, relatively unbiased historical accounts based on the available evidence to the best of my knowledge.

  • Quote

    Unfortunately as I understand it, academic historians do not like to engage in broad sweeping historiographic narratives which may be overly simplistic (the biggest example of this usually given is Edward Gibbon's 1776 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire).

    This is certainly the case, even when it has nothing to do with theology; Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier Thesis and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel both elicit a similar response, and the debate proceeds forever and forever ad nauseum.


    My own observation is that those who detract the historical thesis that they dismiss as merely a "Whig Fable" do so by trying to prove too much. I once read an argument put forward suggesting that the totemic power ascribed to books by medievals was a sign of their love of literacy. This could not, of course, be further from the truth; what could be a more obvious sign of illiteracy, than to think of books as sacred or totemic!? A literate person reads books, hungry only for what the contain. They reproduce books so that they can save them from oblivion, or else pass them on to other readers. It is only the illiterate who content themselves with the dry crust of the thing itself.


    And does it matter whether Giordano Bruno was murdered for free inquiry or for occult heresy? In either case the salient point remains; he was murdered by a tyrannical and imperious church for holding the wrong opinion. With nearly all of these quibbles, the fault-finding historians succeed only in failing to grasp the obvious. St. Paul delivered his most powerful sermon on the Areopagus in Athens, and he left that city a free man. He preached in a synagogue in Jerusalem, and he left Jerusalem in chains.