Thursday, January 21, 2010

New in Paperback: Charles Freeman's A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans, and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State

New in paperback this month is A.D. 381 by acclaimed historian Charles Freeman, author of The Closing of the Western Mind. In this groundbreaking book published by Overlook last Fall, Freeman argues that A.D. 381 was a pivotal turning point in the history of the Christian church.

It was AD 381 when Theodosius, emperor of the eastern Roman empire, issued a decree in which all his subjects were required to subscribe to a belief in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This edict defined Christian orthodoxy and brought to an end a lively and wide-ranging debate about the nature of God; all other interpretations were now declared heretical. It was the first time in a thousand years of Greco-Roman civilization free thought was unambiguously suppressed. Freeman argues that Theodosius's edict and the subsequent suppression of paganism not only brought an end to the diversity of religious and philosophical beliefs throughout the empire, but created numerous theological problems for the Church, which have remained unsolved. The year AD 381, as Freeman puts it, was a turning point which time forgot.

Praise for A.D. 381

"Exceptional. Of the many excellences in Freeman s book, not least are the eloquence, grace, and subtlety of argument with which he presents his case. Invaluable."- Library Journal
"Clearly written, well organized, and compellingly argued, A.D. 381 provides an absorbing window into one of the most important moments in the history of European thought." - Houston Chronicle

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