And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus

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St. Martin's Press, Mar 26, 2013 - Religion - 416 pages
12 Reviews

At the time of Jesus’ birth , the world was full of gods. Thousands of them jostled, competed and merged with one another. In Syria ecstatic devotees castrated themselves in the streets to become priests of Atargatis  In Galilee, holy men turned oil into wine, healed the sick, drove out devils, and claimed to be the Messiah.  Every day thousands of people were leaving their family and tribes behind them and flocking into brand new multi-ethnic cities. The ancient world was in ferment as it underwent the first phase of globalisation, and in this ferment rulers and ruled turned to religion as a source of order and stability. Augustus, the first emperor of Rome (though he never dared officially to call himself so) was maneuvering his way to becoming worshipped as a god – it was one of the most brilliant makeovers ever undertaken by a ruler and his spin doctors. In North Africa, Amanirenas the warrior queen exploited her god-like status to inspire her armies to face and defeat Rome. In China the usurper Wang Mang won and lost his throne because of his obsession with Confucianism.

To explore the power that religious belief has had over societies through the ages, Selina O’Grady takes the reader on a dazzling journey across the empires of the ancient world and  introduces us to rulers, merchants,  messiahs, priests and holy men. Throughout, she seeks to answer why, amongst the countless religious options available, the empires at the time of Jesus ‘chose’ the religions they did? Why did China’s rulers hitch their fate to Confucianism, a philosophy more than a religion? And why was a tiny Jewish cult led by Jesus eventually adopted by Rome’s emperors rather than the cult of Isis which was far more popular and widespread?  The Jesus cult , followed by no more than 100 people at the time of his death, should, by rights, have disappeared  in a few generations. Instead it  became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Why did Christianity grow so quickly to become the predominant world religion? What was it about its teachings that so appealed to people?  And Man Created God  looks at why and how religions have had such an immense impact on human history and in doing so uncovers the ineradicable connection between politics and religion - a connection which still  defines us in  our own age. This  is an important, thrilling and necessary new work of history.

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Review: And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus

User Review  - Mark - Goodreads

Titles can be so misleading, don't you think? In this case, I feel that it is all too true but, again - in this case, that's a good thing. What I feel this work is really about is, how does a ruling ... Read full review

Review: And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus

User Review  - Kevin Mack - Goodreads

A 'good read,' a little dry at times. When she pulled all the threads together at the end it was beautiful. : ) Read full review

About the author (2013)

Selina O’Grady was a television producer for BBC1’s moral documentary series Heart of the Matter, Channel 4’s live open-ended chat show After Dark and was also a producer on Radio 4’s history series Leviathan. She was a regular reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Literary Review and Tablet and the co-editor of two books: Great Spirits: The Fifty-Two Christians who Most Influenced their Millennium and A Deep But Dazzling Darkness, an anthology from Anglo-Saxon to modern times of the experience of belief and disbelief.

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