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Review of The Christians as the Romans Saw Them - Book Report/Review Example

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Review of The Christians as the Romans Saw Them

Since the book is not written in a strictly academic setting, it is easily comprehensible by most readers as it has quoted and summarized significant sources of history. This aspect has made the book a useful reading to those interested in history as well as Christians who seek an insight into the controversies that have shaped their coming into being, doctrines, theology and the church. The writer has drawn from widely known Christian and pagan sources to offer readers an enlightening account of the way Romans perceived Christianity before it was established as their empire’s religion. This paper will present a review of the 238-page book, which was published in 2003. The book offers an absorbing depiction of the Christian movement of the early era from the Roman’s point of view and an understanding of human thought. In the introductory chapter, Wilken points out that his intention is to put Roman history and early Christianity into a closer conjunction than has been offered by previous literature. As a Christian scholar, he believes the most effective way to achieve that is by studying the thoughts of pagan critics and giving clarifications from Christian sources. One of the critics, Porphyry, who was also a literary scholar and philosopher, viciously attacks the Christian perspective of a book in the bible (Daniel). He also passes harsh judgment on the Christian practice of worshipping both God and Jesus as though they were equals. A reader gets an early impression that all criticism that targets Christianity is usually contextual. Wilken’s subject, which is predominantly on apologetics of the apostolic era, teaches that although modern criticism may not be new, the context is considerably different. As Porphyry opines, Jesus did not deem himself as divine at any one time, and the fact that early Christians are the ones who made him divine is not a new concept. He emphasizes that not many Jews are not in acceptance of the divinity of Jesus, with only a small number being in Christianity. Through Wilken’s portrayal of Galen, one of the critics and a philosopher and physician of the second century, a reader understands that Christians achieved considerable learning from their critics. Galen expounds on the contradiction of the story of creation in Genesis with that of the concept held by the Greeks. He acknowledges the works of Christian scholars like Justin Martyr who pointed out the parallels between Christianity and Plato, both of which defined a divine being through which the world was created. However, Galen also stresses that Plato defined a divine being that brought the world into being from matter that already existed, and that is where the conflict with the details of creation by God as described in Genesis lies. In Genesis, Christians are told God created the world out of nothing, which is termed as ex nihilo, as opposed to Plato’s view that is termed as ex materia. The book presents Galen to readers as a person who viewed Christianity as a philosophy that was second rated and incorporated admirable attributes mainly based on deceptive reasoning. His ideas are shown to have drawn anger from Christian apologists, who preached the faith as bearing significance to all people and conform to universal notions. Wilken shows how Galen, together with the other critics, may be at war with their own ...Show more


Book Review of “The Christians as the Romans Saw Them” Name: Institution: Book Review of “The Christians as the Romans Saw Them” In his book, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, Robert Louis Wilken assesses the criticisms towards Christianity by looking at the faith through the point of view of five pagan critics…
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