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Review: The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World

Catherine Nixey

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World

The book “The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World” by Catherine Nixey is a position that attempts to show Christianity in the ancient world in a slightly different and more controversial way. The author boldly presents her view on the role of Christianity in the fall of Rome and ancient culture. The book was published by the Filtry publishing house, which publishes items encouraging social discussion on many controversial topics.

Catherine Nixey is an English journalist and historian who was awarded the prestigious Jerwood Prize by the Royal Society of Literature (based in London) for her reviewed book. The publication was also recognized by The New York Times, The Spectator, The Observer, and BBC History as one of the most important titles in 2018.

As the author herself points out, she comes from a religious home, where her mother is a former nun and her father is a former monk. However, as it turns out, the author did not have any unpleasant experiences in the world of the church, and her publication is not offensive against the institution as such. It is a kind of manifesto, aimed at revealing to society the unpleasant pages of the history of the church and the Christian faith in ancient times. The publication is intended to encourage discussion and raise the controversial topic of the role of the church in history.

The author bases her content on sources, a large part of which are the notes of Christian writers who, just two centuries after the death of Jesus on the cross, created propaganda, called for an unfavorable attitude towards classical culture, and rejoiced in the destructive actions of the followers. The gradual expansion of the Christian faith, its legalization, and its triumph at the end of the 4th century CE as the only state religion meant a change in the approach to the values ​​proclaimed by the first followers of Christ. Persecution began with the destruction of ancient statues, the marking of sculptures with the sign of the cross, the confiscation of property, the burning of libraries and ancient works, and the prohibition of old rituals.

However, what is most shocking is the fact that the author in her descriptions is based primarily on sources. The book includes many footnotes, references to literature, and source texts. We learn the story of the brutal murder of the outstanding woman scientist Hypatia of Alexandria in 415, the destruction of the temples in beautiful Palmyra in 387, the destruction of the temple of Serapis in Alexandria in 392 or the escape of the last Neoplatonist philosophers from Athens in 529; these are brutal stories and proofs of how sometimes faith can obscure the vision and lead to the worst things.

As the author repeatedly points out, it is obvious that the church, monks, and other Christians have repeatedly done worthy things and allowed, among others, to preserve part of ancient creativity or promote equality among people. Unfortunately, however, only the good deeds of the church have gone down in history; however, its true face is not fully known to us.

Moving on to the content – it has almost 400 pages, which has been divided into 16 chapters, in which subsequent issues are discussed that outline the controversial attitude of the church and the Christian faith. In the end, we will find a review of the position by Professor Stanisław Obirek, a bibliography, an index, and a list of footnotes.

The item was released in an eye-catching way – a black cover with a fragment of a flame. In addition, the content was enriched with illustrations. Cons: footnotes at the end of the book and very poor binding of the pages; After turning the pages several times, the pages began to detach.

Overall, I think the book is highly recommended. The author uses very pleasant language in her work, and the descriptions are concise and interesting. All stories and tales are based on sources, which only adds to the professionalism of the work.
Naturally, I realize that many people may perceive this publication as an attack on their own ideals; I think, however, that sometimes it is worth looking at everything from the other side and not seeing everything only in white or black colors.

Purchase book in Amazon

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