Ancient History & Civilisation

The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason

The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason

A radical and powerful reappraisal of the impact of Constantine’s adoption of Christianity on the later Roman world, and on the subsequent development both of Christianity and of Western civilization.

When the Emperor Contstantine converted to Christianity in 368 AD, he changed the course of European history in ways that continue to have repercussions to the present day. Adopting those aspects of the religion that suited his purposes, he turned Rome on a course from the relatively open, tolerant and pluralistic civilization of the Hellenistic world, towards a culture that was based on the rule of fixed authority, whether that of the Bible, or the writings of Ptolemy in astronomy and of Galen and Hippocrates in medicine. Only a thousand years later, with the advent of the Renaissance and the emergence of modern science, did Europe begin to free itself from the effects of Constantine's decision, yet the effects of his establishment of Christianity as a state religion remain with us, in many respects, today.

Chapter 1. THOMAS AQUINAS AND “THE TRIUMPH OF FAITH”

Chapter 2. THE QUEST FOR CERTAINTY

Chapter 3. THE QUEST FOR VIRTUE

Chapter 4. CHANGING POLITICAL CONTEXTS Alexander and the Coming of the Hellenistic Monarchies

Chapter 5. ABSORBING THE EAST, ROME AND THE INTEGRATION OF GREEK CULTURE

Chapter 6. “ALL NATIONS LOOK TO THE MAJESTY OF ROME” The Roman Empire at Its Height

Chapter 7. THE EMPIRE IN CRISIS, THE EMPIRE IN RECOVERY Political Transformations in the Third Century

Chapter 8. JESUS

Chapter 9. PAUL, “THE FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY”?

Chapter 10. “A CROWD THAT LURKS IN CORNERS, SHUNNING THE LIGHT” The First Christian Communities

Chapter 11. CONSTANTINE AND THE COMING OF THE CHRISTIAN STATE

Chapter 12. “BUT WHAT I WISH, THAT MUST BE THE CANON”1 Emperors and the Making of Christian Doctrine

Chapter 13. “ENRICHED BY THE GIFTS OF MATRONS” Bishops and Society in the Fourth Century

Chapter 14. SIX EMPERORS AND A BISHOP Ambrose of Milan

Chapter 15. INTERLUDE Quintus Aurelius Symmachus and the Defence of Paganism

Chapter 16. THE ASCETIC ODYSSEY

Chapter 17. EASTERN CHRISTIANITY AND THE EMERGENCE OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE, 395–600

Chapter 18. THE EMERGENCE OF CATHOLIC CHRISTIANITY IN THE WEST, 395–640

Chapter 19. “WE HONOUR THE PRIVILEGE OF SILENCE WHICH IS WITHOUT PERIL” The Death of the Greek Empirical Tradition

Chapter 20. THOMAS AQUINAS AND THE RESTORATION OF REASON

Epilogue

Notes

Modern Works Cited in the Text and Notes

Picture Section