I love being pleasantly surprised. I know the author, I have read most of what he has previously written, and I was expecting a good read. I was NOT expecting the scope of the scholarship wrapped up in wonderfully readable text. This is not a textbook – although based on the content it certainly could be. But the use of language, the added color and stories along the way, make this a delight to read and real stimulation for the mind. Even when he was dealing with material with which I am familiar, I learned new things.
I heartily recommend this as a book to read and then keep on the shelf as a valuable reference.
For over two thousand years, the Catholic Church has relied on both Holy Scriptures and its Living Tradition to explain the Word of God. This highly readable and informative history of that amazing tradition recounts the major schisms, heresies, and slanders that were aimed at the Church in each danger-filled generation and how the Church countered those attacks.
No student of the Catholic Church can ignore its traditions and its need for a teaching authority—a Magisterium. From the Fathers of the Church to recent popes, from Doctors of the Church to its saints, the human race has benefited by the teachings of the Church. This enjoyable and fascinating revelation of the Deposit of Faith from one generation to another explains the need to inculcate new cultures, new languages, new ways of explaining the road to salvation passed down from the lips of Jesus Christ to the Universal Church.
While the audience for this brief but highly interesting book is expected to be high school, CCD, and home school students, any history buff or Catholic adult will find in it an excellent overview of the religious influence wielded by the Church over the years. An influence which cries out for acceptance in today’s secular world.
Alexander the Great created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece into Egypt and northwest India. Along the way, he founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most notably Alexandria of Egypt. Today we like to speak of the Jewish Diaspora, but the Greek Diaspora, the scattering of Greeks throughout the lands conquered by Alexander, was just as significant. Alexandria became, in effect, a Greek city with all aspects of that city controlled by the Greeks.
Unlike most cities of that time, Alexandria was designed with straight parallel streets, one at least two hundred feet wide, with monuments, palaces, government buildings, and parks all erected according to a beautiful artistic plan ordered by Alexander the Great. It was called the City of Marble for its lavish use of marble.
In 323 BC, Alexander died and Ptolemy, one of his generals, became the ruler of Egypt. Ptolemy’s descendants ruled Egypt for almost three hundred years, maintaining a Greek culture in the city. Possessing a magnificent double harbor, Alexandria’s main industries became education, trade, and shipbuilding. Eventually, it became the wealthiest and most powerful city in the world, surpassing Athens and the early Rome.
However, in 30 BC, the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt was annexed to Rome when Octavian (the future Roman emperor Augustus) defeated his rival Mark Antony and disposed of Antony’s lover, Queen Cleopatra VII. Out of the Ptolemaic Kingdom arose the new Roman province of Egypt, administered from Alexandria. Rome did not colonize the city with its citizens as Alexander the Great had done earlier with Greeks. Instead, the culture remained primarily Greek for several centuries after the annexation, but the taxes and the crops became entirely those of Rome.
While Octavian allowed the Greek culture of the city to remain in place, he became so enamored with the beauty of Alexandria that he ordered a cluttered and trash-ridden Rome reconstructed to match it in grandeur. Alexandria became a city of 700,000 people, primarily Greek, Jewish, and native Egyptians. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Alexandria became the center of religion and culture for the world’s Jewish people and a prime source of Christian converts.
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