2017 READING CHALLENGE
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At the end of the first century BC, 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 so as to become priests of Atargatis. In Galilee, holy men turned oil into wine and claimed to be the Messiah. Kings, queens, and emperors were riding on the backs of these religions to increase their power. "And Man Created God" considers how and why religious belief has had such an immense impact on human history by identifying the roots of belief within societies. O'Grady looks at the whole world during one short period and asks a specific question: Why did Christianity grow so quickly and become the predominant world religion? The beliefs held by a tiny Jewish sect in an obscure corner of the then mighty Roman Empire would have seemed doomed to disappear within a few generations. Instead, they became the official religion of the Empire. What was it about Christian ideas that appealed to people in so many different cultures at that time? Beginning in Rome, expanding her review out to Gaul, Germania, North Africa, the Near East, Persia, and beyond to China, the author sifts through the economic, political and sociocultural facts to understand why some ideas die and others thrive in a thrilling new work of history.
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