The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity : The Great Courses: Ancient History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Kenneth W. Harl
  • Series: The Great Courses: Ancient History
  • 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Explore the dramatic interaction between Judaism, Christianity, and paganism in Rome from the 1st to the 6th centuries. Why did pagan Rome clash with the early Christians? What was it like to be a Jew or a Christian under Roman law? And how did Christianity ultimately achieve dominance in the Roman Empire?
Over the course of 24 lectures, Professor Harl enables you to grasp the full historical sweep of this critically important era and its key figures. You'll examine why Christianity was able to emerge and endure and, in turn, spark a critical transition for religion, culture, and politics that underpins much of how today's Western world - both Christian and non-Christian alike - thinks about ethics, sin, redemption, forgiveness, progress, and so much more.
While the Judeo-Christian values that have shaped society's ideas are ones we might today take for granted, their emergence from an ancient era dominated by loyalties to a vast array of gods would once have seemed the most unlikely of narratives. Even after the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in A.D. 312, it would not be until the 6th-century reign of Justinian that medieval Christianity would emerge and this new historical pathway confirmed.
In this magnificent course, Professor Harl brings to life some of the most important and fascinating episodes of the era, taking you on a vibrant trek through the past - one that will lead you to a deeper understanding of the bedrock beliefs of Western culture.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not what they told you in Sunday School

What made the experience of listening to The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity the most enjoyable?

I grew up in a very Christian family, but hardly knew anything about the history of my faith. Of course, I was told how the religion started in Sunday School, but years later I have grown to seek accurate information. After years of study, I've realized much of the church history presented in Sunday School is the religious equivalent of urban legends. Religion is a powerful force in our lives, and everyone, religious or not, ought to seek out scholarly works (not apologetics) that throw the light of reason and real facts into our world.


Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Professor Kenneth W. Harl did a fantastic job of taking all the complex social issues and weaving them into a coherent whole. It does take careful listening, and the professor never talks down to us. Sometimes you can really hear the passion in his voice.


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- Lee

An excellent and thought provoking series

Which scene was your favorite?

The "what if" moment of Julian the Apostate. Here was a pagan emperor who was born as a Christian, and attempted to turn back the clock on the Christian revolution. He knew what was necessary for a neo-pagan resurgence, and had he lived it might have worked.This lecture in particular opened my eyes to the realization that the history of the West and possibly the whole world didn't have to turn out the way it did.


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- shane

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses