When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ's Divinity in the Last Days of Rome

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Aug 16, 2013 - Religion - 368 pages
40 Reviews
The story of Jesus is well known, as is the story of Christian persecutions during the Roman Empire. The history of fervent debate, civil strife, and bloody riots within the Christian community as it was coming into being, however, is a side of ancient history rarely described. Richard E. Rubenstein takes the reader to the streets of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, when a fateful debate over the divinity of Jesus Christ is being fought. Ruled by a Christian emperor, followers of Jesus no longer fear for the survival of their monotheistic faith but break into two camps regarding the direction of their worship. Is Jesus the son of God and therefore not the same as God? Or is Jesus precisely God on earth and therefore equal to Him? The vicious debate is led by two charismatic priests. Arius, an Alexandrian priest and poet, preaches that Jesus, though holy, is less than God. Athanasius, a brilliant and violent bishop, sees any diminution of Jesus' godhead as the work of the devil. Between them stands Alexander, the powerful Bishop of Alexandria, who must find a resolution that will keep the empire united and the Christian faith alive. With thorough historical, religious, and social research, Rubenstein vividly recreates one of the most critical moments in the history of religion.

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Review: When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome

User Review  - Robert Schut - Goodreads

I thought it might be interesting to see how a Jewish writer would portray the divinity of Jesus so I bought this book. Since I am a Christian writer and teacher I also need to stay aware of other ... Read full review

Review: When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome

User Review  - Ashish Jaituni - Goodreads

With great detail and good research, the author has shed light on the religious controversies of the early Church. It is a very good book! I recommend it to those interested in history of the Christian Church. Read full review

Selected pages


2 The Silence of Apollo
3 A Quarrel in Gods House
4 The Great and Holy Council
5 Sins of the Body Passions of the Mind
6 The Broken Chalice
7 Death in Constantinople
8 East against West
9 The Arian Empire
10 Old Gods and New
11 When Jesus Became God
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About the author (2013)

RICHARD E. RUBENSTEIN is professor of conflict resolution and public affairs at George Mason University and an expert on religious conflict. A graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, he was a Rhodes Scholar and studied at Oxford University. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

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