The Darkening Age: A Review


A lament, a eulogy, a grief observed – whatever you call it Catherine Nixey’s book The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World is a brilliant, deftly written historical work that presents us with one of the little talked of consequences the rise of Christianity – that of the ultimate loss of classical Greek and Roman thought, art, culture and philosophy – and the consequences of that loss.

Nixey writes with an ascerbic wit and compelling pen that draws the reader in. Presented in a narrative style the work thankfully retains solid footnotes and endnotes that back up the claims and observations.

The reader is transported to the ancient world where they are led about by Nixey who acts as a tour guide pointing out subtle and not-so-subtle evidences of Christianity’s slow but increasingly powerful impact on the traditions of the ancient world.

Unlike an historical text the author’s voice, the obvious pain of loss and her anger at what has occured is plainly evident in the text. Is this a bias? Maybe. Is it simply the rational response of an historian to what has been lost – most certainly.

The focus of the book on loss and the negative impact of Christianity in this sense is appropriate given the vastness of historical tradition that is woven with Christianity and has sought to, consciously or otherwise, ignore negative portrayals. Essentially there is little within the historical canon that has chosen to focus on this subject in this way and so this focus is necessary.

A well backed-up chronicle of a systematic destruction of art, culture, law, religion, philosophy, architecture and more, Nixey’s work is a must read by Christian and non-Christian alike because it is not simply a chronicle of the ancient world but a compendium of reports and acts that bear a frightening resemblance to the current state of the world with the rise of populaism and the fear-driven violence that goes with it.

This resemblance is by no means an accident and highlights how this book is a book borne out of our own age.

An excellent overview of almost 600 years of history with varying focal points complete with beautiful illustrations, and a handy map of the Roman empire circa 100 AD.

Clear, concise and emminently readable (unlike many works of history) Nixey’s book is brilliant. One can hardly wait for her next work.

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