How to ruin a fair book in one brief statement January 20, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, Basics, disaster, error, foolishness, General Catholic, history, horror, paganism, persecution, pr stunts, rank stupidity, reading, scandals, secularism, self-serving, silliness, Society.
So I’ve always wanted to learn a bit more about the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. I think the Byzantine Empire generally gets very short shrift in the West. It’s just basically ignored, or at most a footnote. But the Byzantine Empire preserved very high standards of the Greco-Roman civilization for centuries after the West had been reduced to bare barbarism, and, more importantly, largely kept Islam out of Eastern and Central Europe single-handedly. They preserved a great deal of ancient knowledge that, when transferred back west during the course of the Crusades, greatly assisted in the great achievements of the High Middle Ages.
So I got a mass market book that provides a sparse but fairly useful broad overview of the thousand-year run of the Byzantine Empire from the collapse of Rome to its sad fall to the Turkish Mohammadans in the 1450s. It’s called Byzantium by Giles Morgan. It was a pretty fair book, though much of it read as if it had been cobbled together from Wikipedia and other online sources. But it did about what it was sold to do in workmanlike, if far from inspired, fashion – give a very brief synopsis of the high points of Byzantine history.
But ate the very end the author made a statement that was so hair-pullingly inane that it really undermined whatever worth the rest of the work held. In fact, the author made a similar statement early on that I let pass. But once it was repeated I had to assume he really believed what he was saying. Here it is:
Within the arena of modern popular culture, Byzantium continues to fascinate in ways that often deeply divide opinion. The best-selling author of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, caused huge controversy with his questioning of the origins of Christianity, and, in particular, with his suggestion……..that Constantine the Great had invented the divinity of Jesus Christ, turning Him from a man into a God through the medium of the Council of Nicaea.
Well……..that’s true. It’s true in the sense that 2001: a space odyssey continues to polarize students of the history of the manned space race between the Americans and Soviets, what with its claims of manned missions to Jupiter in 1999 and the proof of intelligent life off the planet earth uncovered on the moon.
That is to say, it’s not true at all. It’s completely, totally made up, and is “controversial” only in the sense that any outrageously stupid and obviously false claim is controversial.
Talk about obliterating the credibility of the author. The history of Byzantium is inexorably bound up with the Christian Faith. And to reveal such a shocking, mind-blowing ignorance of the subject matter at hand – there are literally thousands of references to the Divinity of Jesus Christ prior to the Council of Nicaea, including the entire Canon of the New Testament – reveals a level of ignorance of the subject matter under study that it simply beggars the imagination. Sadly, but predictably, especially given the modern-day progressive milieu from which the Brit Giles Morgan hails, the author appears to feel that Dan Brown’s fabulist screed is as worthy of belief/debate as orthodox Christian belief, instead of simply completely dismissing them as ludicrous as any responsible historian would do. That is the only conclusion I can reach from his twice mentioning Brown’s claims, in a book on a subject matter which really merited no such inclusion.
It is almost like he was trying, in a rather underhanded way, to cast doubt on Christian belief for his (presumed) reading audience. Obviously, knuckle-dragging faithful Christians haven’t the least interest in history, right?
So, can anyone make a recommendation for a decent one-volume history of the Byzantine Empire and its culture?