Are you hungry for a rip-roaring tale of theological intrigue filled with conspiracies, Byzantine plots, murder, and mayhem? Or are you longing for a solid, informative, and accurate history of the development of Christian orthodoxy? If your answer is yes to both, Philip Jenkins's Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years (HarperOne) is your book. The church historian's latest is a page-turner for anyone even remotely interested in the history of Christianity and/or the Roman Empire.
Jesus Wars recounts in vivid detail the centuries-long struggle to define and enforce the orthodox doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ. The story begins in fourth-century Constantinople, where Roman emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the official religion of the empire and called a council of all Christian bishops to settle once and for all the controversies about Jesus' humanity and divinity.
Far from settling the matter, however, Constantinople I (First Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381) engendered a dispute about Christ that eventually led to the fall of the Roman Empire and permanent divisions between Christians. Jenkins is well known as a scholar of Christianity's rise in the "Global South," a catchall for the non-Western world. In Jesus Wars, he explains the origins of some little-known (to Westerners) branches of Christianity, including the churches of Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Armenia, and Persia (roughly modern Iraq and Iran).
Virtually all Christians since Constantinople I have agreed that Jesus Christ was and is in some sense both human and divine. But the question of how that truth is to be expressed and defended led to the first killings of ...1