How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe 

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe ✭ [PDF] ✪ How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe  By Thomas Cahill ✺ – Heartforum.co.uk From the fall of Rome to the rise of Charlemagne the dark ages learning, scholarship, and culture disappeared from the European continent The great heritage of western civilization from the Greek and From Irish Saved Civilization: The PDF/EPUB ² the fall of Rome Irish Saved PDF Î to the rise of Charlemagne the dark ages learning, scholarship, and culture disappeared from the European continent The great heritage of western civilization from the Greek and Roman classics to Jewish and Christian works would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of unconquered Ireland In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little known hinge of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the island of saints and scholars, the Ireland of St Patrick and How the ePUB × the Book of Kells Here, far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes laboriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the west s written treasures With the return of stability in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning Thus the Irish not only were conservators of civilization, but became shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on western culture.

Born Irish Saved Civilization: The PDF/EPUB ² in New York City Irish Saved PDF Î to Irish American parents and raised in Queens and the Bronx, Cahill was educated by Jesuits and studied ancient Greek and Latin He continued his study of Greek and Latin literature, as well as medieval philosophy, scripture and theology, at Fordham University, where he completed a BA in classical literature and philosophy in , and a pontifical degree in philosophy in He went on to complete his MFA in film and dramatic literature at Columbia University in In anticipation of writing The How the ePUB × Gifts of the Jews, Cahill studied scripture at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and spent two years as a Visiting Scholar at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he studied Hebrew and the Hebrew Bible He also reads French and Italian In , he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Alfred University in New YorkCahill has taught at Queens College, Fordham University, and Seton Hall University, served as the North American education correspondent for the Times of London, and was for many years a regular contributor to the Irish Saved PDF ↠ the Los Angeles Times Book Review Prior to retiring to write full time, he was the Director of Religious Publishing at Doubleday for six years He and his wife, Susan, also an author, divide their time between New York and Rome Wikipedia.

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of
    Import EPUB to the Program Import EPUB island of saints and scholars, the Ireland of St Patrick and How the ePUB × the Book of Kells Here, far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes laboriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the west s written treasures With the return of stability in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning Thus the Irish not only were conservators of civilization, but became shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on western culture."/>
  • Paperback
  • 246 pages
  • How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe 
  • Thomas Cahill
  • English
  • 04 February 2019
  • 0385418493

10 thoughts on “How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe 

  1. John Wiswell says:

    Mind numbingly written, building up to a nearly inconsequential conclusion on how Irish monks might have helped preserve some of Europe s classic literature I m descended from the Irish and was looking forward to a little nationalist pride, but this failed by underdelivering from its title and being nearly unreadable from the first chapter It hurts even worse to hear that the claims may have been false.

  2. Jen says:

    This was awful Many reviews say things like charming and pleasant, but I thought it was tedious and meandering Not all history has to be chronological there s interesting stuff in here but it s too long with details of Roman society Also, the author writes like a blow hard, and interjects things like Alas and Dear Reader and It is up to the reader to decide That kind of stuff irritates me to no end.Searching for info online, I found references that refute much of what the author This was awful Many reviews say things like charming and pleasant, but I thought it was tedious and meandering Not all history has to be chronological there s interesting stuff in here but it s too long with details of Roman society Also, the author writes like a blow hard, and interjects things like Alas and Dear Reader and It is up to the reader to decide That kind of stuff irritates me to no end.Searching for info online, I found references that refute much of what the author posits, including info about St Patrick Granted, the author in tedious and blow harded notes acknowledges that no one can say exactly what happened, but he s disguising mythology and folklore as truth

  3. John says:

    This is the kind of book where the title really seems to over commit to an idea and overstate the reality of history I went into this book thinking that Cahill was surely using hyperbole to say that the Irish saved civilization He may be, but this is still a remarkable and relevant history This is a great, great book that deserves the wide readership it has received.The book begins with a retelling of the fall of Rome Cahill does this to show the peril in which Western Civilization was steep This is the kind of book where the title really seems to over commit to an idea and overstate the reality of history I went into this book thinking that Cahill was surely using hyperbole to say that the Irish saved civilization He may be, but this is still a remarkable and relevant history This is a great, great book that deserves the wide readership it has received.The book begins with a retelling of the fall of Rome Cahill does this to show the peril in which Western Civilization was steeped with the fall of Rome He makes it clear that Rome fell for good reason it was top heavy, indolent, decadent, and diseased But there was much that merited preservation the libraries of Ancient Rome and Roman learning were in great peril The barbarian hordes were pagan and illiterate and gave no consideration to books of any kind.Enter St Patrick Here is where the Irish come to the rescue of the West Some know some of Patrick s story, and Cahill does a good job of telling a condensed version Patrick was not the traditional type of bishop or missionary for his formative years were spent as a shepherd and slave He was not learned as many on the continent He brought Christianity to Ireland but apart from the traditional type of Roman Catholic influence His theology wascatholic, than Catholic This distinction is significant, as it left Irish Christianity to beheavily influenced by Irish culture and language than anywhere else on the continent where the Romans held sway.As Irish Christianity grew and matured, it was a kind of rival to Roman Catholicism The Irish sent abbots and monks all over the pagan and backwater continent and brought Christianity back where it had been lost or never really held influence They copied manuscripts and handed them down through generations when they d been lost on the continent They wrote in the vernacular Irish language the first time a vernacular language was written down This surely led to the Protestant insistence on the Bible being translated into the languages of the people, though Cahill does not make this connection specifically.Many are aware of the manner in which the Irish monks preserved the literature of the Roman Empire, but this was only the part of it The fingerprints of Irish monks and missionaries are all over a wide band of Great Britain and Europe This is perhaps the most important legacy of the Irish during the Dark Ages They restored Christian learning in Europe and sowed the seeds for the Renaissance and the Reformation.In his conclusion, Cahill observes that it will be the marginalized of the world that will preserve the best of today in the next crisis of the West It will not be the powerful, the influential, and certainly not the rich I think his thesis is sound, for this is the way of God he humbles the proud and exalts the humble Thank God for the tradition of faithful Irish saints.I must add onething that I am seeingandas I ve read recently of the ancient world The un Christianized world is remarkably barbaric vicious almost beyond imagination Cahill shows the pagan Irish and compares them to other similar Iron Age cultures It is clear their worldview and life stand in stark contrast to that of today We take so much for granted in our Christianized cultures Yes, we ve lost so much of this heritage and are working to squander it But our world is tame and predictable compared to that of the ancient world The ancients were a vicious lot violently demonic in truth We can scarcely even imagine the truth of this today, for it is so unimaginable as to be thought fictitious But it was real, and it is there for the historian and archaeologist to see May this be a lesson to those who dismiss the Christian transformation of cultures that has come with the advancement of the gospel Christ has truly transformed the world from one of vicious, violent, and demonic forces into his advancing kingdom of light and grace.In this way, this book is not simply about the way the Irish Saved Civilization but a retelling of the great transformation the world has undergone from barbarism to Christian peace through the spreading of the gospel in Europe The best part of the book is the very end where Cahill projects this model on the future For that is what history is truly about how the lessons of yesterday become models for tomorrow In this case, we may take great hope in the advancing gospel in Africa, Asia, and South America I suspect that the resurgence of Western Christianity will largely be due to the recolonization of the West by the Third World This is a great book one of my favorites

  4. Mark says:

    Though not exactly news to anyone who went to school in Ireland Cahill seems to have an Irish American readership as his target audience, particularly given away by his repeated and annoying generalizations about the Irish Spirit and such like what does he mean, Jameson or Bushmills , this nevertheless has lots of good stuff in it and the overall argument is strong.I particularly liked the early material contrasting the moribund writing of Roman Gallic poet Ausonias with St Augustine, and Though not exactly news to anyone who went to school in Ireland Cahill seems to have an Irish American readership as his target audience, particularly given away by his repeated and annoying generalizations about the Irish Spirit and such like what does he mean, Jameson or Bushmills , this nevertheless has lots of good stuff in it and the overall argument is strong.I particularly liked the early material contrasting the moribund writing of Roman Gallic poet Ausonias with St Augustine, and the philospohical and literary revolution ushered in by his Confessions It reads as a great argument in a nutshell for the decline of the Roman Empire and the notion that the artistic output of a given culture can be a true reflection of its inner health or otherwise It is also hard not to share his enjoyment of the lusty heros and heroines of early Celtic Irish literature And, finally, his descriptions of the bustling, worldly monastic centers that were translating and transcribing not only the key texts of Christianity, but the epic literature of their native country and the canons of Classical antiquity, are remarkable and inspiring

  5. Lisa (Harmonybites) says:

    I do get why this book on How the Irish Saved Civilization was a bestseller Not only is it the perfect gift for St Patrick s Day, it is entertaining and readable But I also found it superficial and not reliable It may be the contrast with some really fine histories and biographies I ve read lately, but several things in this book made it suspect to me Cahill isn t a historian The short biography at the end says only that he has a MFA in Film and Dramatic Literature and that he has studi I do get why this book on How the Irish Saved Civilization was a bestseller Not only is it the perfect gift for St Patrick s Day, it is entertaining and readable But I also found it superficial and not reliable It may be the contrast with some really fine histories and biographies I ve read lately, but several things in this book made it suspect to me Cahill isn t a historian The short biography at the end says only that he has a MFA in Film and Dramatic Literature and that he has studied theology His pro Catholic bias is notable throughout He even takes gratuitous slams at Mormons and Jehovah s Witnesses I don t claim a writer of a solid history has to be a historian some of those great histories and biographies recently read were by journalists And all writers have their take, from conservative to Marxist, that are evident to me But notably, the good ones, whatever their background or worldview, have pages of sources and notes to back up their claims this didn t But the reason I ended up feeling the book was dubious was the actual content, starting with the title and the very premise Irish monks saved civilization by preserving classical literature Other reviewers have pointed out that the Western world isn t the whole of civilization Even as Cahill at one point conflates the whole of the civilized world with the Roman Empire What about China, for instance And others preserved the old Latin learning Not just in Europe, the Eastern Roman Empire remained in existence until 1453 Cahill though claims the Irish wereliberal in what they copied than those on the continent And of the Eastern Romans, he claimed that the literature of ancient Greece were well enough preserved at Byzantium, but Latin literature would almost certainly surely have been lost without the Irish I find that hard to credit They didn t read Vergil at Constantinople I think part of why I also find it hard to swallow his encomium to Christianity as a preserver of classical Greek and Roman civilization is that it also did so much to destroy it One poignant illustration of that is the fate of the works of Sappho Cahill himself notes that among the treasures of antiquity lost were almost all her poetry What he doesn t tell you is that her poems were preserved until nearly A.D 1000, at least according to A Book of Woman Poets, when a wrathful church destroyed whatever it could find In 1073 her writings were publicly burned in Rome and Constantinople by order of Pope Gregory VIII So, I guess I wonder, why is it these great gift givers of civilization didn t preserve her for us But Cahill doesn t give me a good answer for this, especially because so little of the book even focuses on that part of the story We don t get to Ireland at all until Part III starting on page 71 The section that tells us how the Irish saved this learning doesn t begin until Part VI on page 145 in a book of 218 pages Between that we get a biography of St Patrick, who Cahill claimed was the first human being in the history of the world to speak out unequivocally against slavery And he d be wrong by nearly a millennium look up the Cyrus Cylinder, called the first charter of human rights from the Persian king who ended the Jewish Babylonian exile a biblical scholar such as Cahill should know better Other things irked me Particularly the comparison of the barbarian hordes that destroyed Rome to the Mexicans, Haitians, and other dispossessed peoples seeking illegal entry to the United States It s a point he repeats at the end, and seemed all theironic considering Cahill s condemnation of the prejudice their fellow Catholics, the Irish, experienced in America It s not that there weren t interesting points in the book I d like to readabout Such as the case for Augustine s Confessions as the first real autobiography and story of a soul and the indomitable Brigid of Kildare, an abbess with the power of a bishop Cahill might even be right in his take on history but I didn t find the case presented in his book convincing

  6. Susan says:

    I ve noticed that history books on Goodreads are often given lower star ratings by people who are upset to find that the author was using information to present a cohesive thesis rather than providing an unbiased account Although it is right to bring up slant in evaluating the truth of a thesis, it s somewhat sad to see these complaints for Cahill s defense of pre Joycean Irish civilization when one of Cahill s major arguments is that biased English historians prevented any appreciation of Iris I ve noticed that history books on Goodreads are often given lower star ratings by people who are upset to find that the author was using information to present a cohesive thesis rather than providing an unbiased account Although it is right to bring up slant in evaluating the truth of a thesis, it s somewhat sad to see these complaints for Cahill s defense of pre Joycean Irish civilization when one of Cahill s major arguments is that biased English historians prevented any appreciation of Irish civilization in the past I haven t read enough on Irish history to know if Cahill s desire to show an unblemished era of Irish greatness allows him to present Ireland entirely falsely, but I can t help thinking that even if it does, it s about time that the early Christian Irish get a book slanted towards them.And though I want to give Cahill and his peaceful, practically polytheistic Christians as much chance to greatness as I can, I will admit that Cahill is at least exaggerating the title The Irish didn t exactly Save Civilization they saved Latin writing of the pre Christian Roman Empire, thus allowing us to read Cicero and Seneca today Cahill, to his credit, seems to use that contribution of the Irish as only a part of his claim for an Irish golden age The Irish s greatest contribution to civilization, he argues, was their counter Augustinian Christianity In the Irish hey day, St Patrick wrote of God s love for all creatures and people despite their foibles, the Irish developed universities and brought limited literacy to lay people, and Irish missionaries brought their tolerant Christian beliefs and love of writing across Europe.Cahill is a gentle writer, often stopping to say, Let us explore this world a littlebefore we move on, and presenting a picture of what life may have been like in the capital in the last century of the Western Roman Empire, and in Britain, and also in Ireland I particularly enjoyed hearing about the miseries of Roman tax collectors and shepherds all over Cahill is a convincing writer too His version of Irish history may be as compelling for the Irish today as the Christian resurrection was for the Irish of St Patrick s day.I only wish that Cahill had made the book longer andscholarly As fascinating as the epic Tain is, it doesn t seem quite right to base the entire view of pre Christian Irish civilization on literary works and the evidence of a sacrifice victim volunteer in a bog I would have appreciated somearcheology, riotous debate between scholars who ve argued about when human sacrifice in Ireland took place, and careful footnotes Most disappointingly Cahill doesn t like to do normal bibliographies he prefers to write about his favorite sources and hope you ll be encouraged to read them yourself As the book is, it s a light history that shows the Irish as a scribal powerhouse of the early mediaeval period

  7. Wealhtheow says:

    As the Roman Empire crumbled, so too did literacy and libraries suffer By the seventh century, however, Patrick had converted enough men into being Christians and scribes that many ancient Greek and Roman books were preserved in Ireland, even as the originals crumbled elsewhere The preservation of ancient texts is a fascinating theme upon which to relate a history, but alas, the majority of the book concerns how awesome Plato is Seriously, there is a three page quote from Plato, followed by a As the Roman Empire crumbled, so too did literacy and libraries suffer By the seventh century, however, Patrick had converted enough men into being Christians and scribes that many ancient Greek and Roman books were preserved in Ireland, even as the originals crumbled elsewhere The preservation of ancient texts is a fascinating theme upon which to relate a history, but alas, the majority of the book concerns how awesome Plato is Seriously, there is a three page quote from Plato, followed by a good fifty page digression about what all that philosophy means First off, I don t much like Plato his logic is fuzzy and his arguments are based on premises that are easily proven false So telling me that the Irish saved some Plato texts doesn t impress me all that much Plus, it seems like many of these texts were saved elsewhere anyway, so its not like we would have no ancient philosophy at all without Irish monasteries Second, two thirds of this book is a recounting of Greek and Roman philosophy and ways of thinking, one third has to do with the conversion of the Irish to Christianity, and about three pages actually address scriptoriums and scribes and all the rest of that good stuff Not as advertised I assumed we d get at least a few pages on how copying out manuscripts actually worked, with maybe a little information about early monasteries, but Cahill is too busy endlessly telling us how super cool Greek philosophers are to recount any actual scholarship This is particularly frustrating because the little tidbits Cahill does share about early Irish scholars are fascinating the punny poems in margins of manuscripts, the fights with European Christians over everything from tonsures to orthodoxy, the melding of pagan and Christian ways of thinking into something new and unique We only get about a sentence on each of these things, though, and then the book abruptly ends

  8. David A. says:

    I m Irish Don t let my last name Zimmerman fool you I m the proud son of a guy whose surname unfortunately obscures the fact that my mother of whom I m also a proud son is 100 percent Irish, so assuming my dad has a little Irish in him who doesn t I m at least 50 percent Not sure why that s so important to me, but it is There s a mystique to Irishness that simply isn t there with other countries of distant origins Ireland is ever green, it s charmed and charming, thick with thin spac I m Irish Don t let my last name Zimmerman fool you I m the proud son of a guy whose surname unfortunately obscures the fact that my mother of whom I m also a proud son is 100 percent Irish, so assuming my dad has a little Irish in him who doesn t I m at least 50 percent Not sure why that s so important to me, but it is There s a mystique to Irishness that simply isn t there with other countries of distant origins Ireland is ever green, it s charmed and charming, thick with thin space So you would think that by now I would have made my pilgrimage there But I haven t Ireland remains a place of fanciful imagination for me You would also think that by now a proud wannabe Irishman would have read the 1995 national bestseller How the Irish Saved Civilization, but again you would be wrong It s been on my shelf for at least fifteen years, waiting for me to finally crack the spine and dig into it I m not sure what kept me otherwise occupied it might be that my copy has a very distracting manufacturing error on the cover the spot gloss over the title is offset by about an inch, or it might be that I have so much time sensitive reading to do that I just left this one slow cooking on the back burner, or it may be that I know that calling myself Irish is absurd and vaguely insulting to people who actually are from Ireland, so I felt guilty and avoided the uncomfortable feeling Whatever 2012 is the Year of Overdue Books, so I swallowed my pride and indulged my self perception and dug in How the Irish Saved Civilization is popular history at its apex Part of a series of audacious arguments from Thomas Cahill The Hinges of History , this one observes that the fall of the Roman Empire, and the corresponding neglect of the archives of Western Civilization, was paralleled by the Christianization of Ireland, whose nascent monks saw their calling as twofold with no real opportunity to experience the Red Martyrdom of persecution unto death for their faith, the Irish took first to Green Martyrdom, or the cloistered life of studying the Scriptures and the works of the early church The prodigality of the Irish mind from p 131 In Patrick s world all beings and events come from the hand of a good God, who loves human beings and wishes them success And though that success is of an ultimate kind and, therefore, does not preclude suffering all nature, indeed the whole of the created universe, conspires to mankind s good, teaching, succoring, and saving was such that enthusiasm for these early works extended to pagan classics and other ancient culture Irish monks became archivists for the ancient West at a time when Roman civilization could no longer be bothered by its own history, its own legacy Simply archiving history wouldn t save civilization, of course And the Irish historically were not known for sitting around all day Irish folk history, told compellingly by Cahill, is lusty and brazen, sometimes violent and always earthy, painting a portrait of a culture consumed with life Such virility informs monasticism in unique ways, and the Green Martyrs eventually created an outlet for Irish wanderlust with White Martyrdom, self surrender that involved taking to sea and going where the waves took you White Martyrs went everywhere some undoubtedly to their death and some of them wound up in Europe, where they reintroduced Europe s classics to itself Not only Western civilization s culture was restored but a culture of being cultured was introduced the love of learning and the life of the mind, and ethical responsibility that flows from it, can be traced back to the missionary efforts of these White Martyrs Thomas Cahill made me want to beIrish, not less His writing is elegant and exhilarating you assume the truth of his absurdist claim that a tiny island in the North Atlantic known mostly for famine, fantasy and fatalism gave Western civilization its life and soul back I m struck by the lessons from Cahill s take on European history for people today invested in the mission of the church There are plenty of parallels between late antiquity and the modern day, from the comparable dominance and moral vulnerability of ancient Rome and the contemporary United States to the increasing cultural irrelevance of the Christian church Cahill does a great job of noting the different worldviews of the two great Confessors of the era Bishop Augustine of Hippo and Patrick of Ireland one who developed an intricate and complex theology that over time proved oppressive and confining, the other whose theology was informed by and responsive to the people who surrounded it Patrick s Christianity, focused as it is on God s good desire for his creation, iswelcoming than Augustine s, which emphasized the fall from grace and led to an emphasis on human depravity and eternal conscious punishment If the church wants to win some, it could stand to learn from Patrick s winsome approach From the last paragraph of Cahill s book Perhaps history is divided into Romans and Catholics or, better, catholics The Romans are the rich and powerful who run things their way and must always accruebecause they instinctively believe that there will never be enough to go around the catholics, as their name implies,instinctively believe that all humanity makes one family, that every human being is an equal child of God, and that God will provide If our civilization is to be saved forget about our civilization, which, as Patrick would say, may pass in a moment like a cloud or smoke that is scattered by the wind if we are to be saved, it will not be by Romans but by saints

  9. Ron says:

    The title may be a slight exaggeration, but it s a good read for students of western history Lots of good Middle Ages as well as the expected Irish background.Multiple readings pull out a wealth of details and insights.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Cahill may occasionally engage in exaggeration and speculation, but he increased my interest in history I have read the first four books in the Hinges of History series, starting book 1 almost 20 years ago, so my memory is not bright However, the books stuck with me fairly well Kudos to the author for that Since then, Cahill wrote twobooks, but I have not read them This is quasi history told in a fairly accessible narrative style if at times meandering Cahill is not a historian, Cahill may occasionally engage in exaggeration and speculation, but he increased my interest in history I have read the first four books in the Hinges of History series, starting book 1 almost 20 years ago, so my memory is not bright However, the books stuck with me fairly well Kudos to the author for that Since then, Cahill wrote twobooks, but I have not read them This is quasi history told in a fairly accessible narrative style if at times meandering Cahill is not a historian, per se, but his education reflects an interest in history, theology, classic texts, and performing arts.Each book examines how a particular European people changed the world alas, no gifts mentioned from Asia and Africa The four cultures one per book Irish, Jewish, Christian of mixed ethnicity , and Greek I enjoyed them all but am not a historian, so cannot adequately argue Cahill s points He probably stretched the story to make a strong case for the particular gifts he suggests the culture brought to the world, but I always read history through a strainer.I cannot recall whether Cahill included the contributions women made I think not.This book How the Irish Saved Civilization is the most memorable in the series, for me It s set primarily in the Dark Ages, after Rome fell, when Visigoths, Goths, and Vandals plundered, burning books, libraries, monasteries, etc I found some bits riveting, but doubtless there are holes in the author s argument that Irish monks saved civilization by saving various classic texts from extinction They did this by copying and illustrating ancient Greek and Latin writings Ptolmy, Euclid, Cicero, Plato, etc , as well as ancient scrolls and scriptures I was rather captivated by these industrious monks, safe from invaders across the Irish Sea, scribbling away in their beehives, creating illuminated manuscripts However, I felt Cahill overplayed his hand, makingof his grand theory than history warrants, and his own Irish ancestry may have led him to wax poetic, suggesting bias I was also interested in the descriptions of Augustine and St Patrick, even though Cahill admittedly embellished what little we know about Patrick.Other Books in the Series According to The Gifts of the Jews How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels book 2 , the Hebrew people introduced various concepts to Western Civ hygiene and kosher food, the written word along with Phonecians, Greeks, Sumarians, etc , a code of law, and monotheism, including caring for widows and orphans via a tithing system much like paying taxes That s all I remember.Book 3,Desire of the Everlasting Hills The World Before and After Jesus, is thought provoking Cahill describes how the message of Christ changed civilization He attributes to Christ and to Christians the gradual propagation of widespread principles of mercy, forgiveness, eleventh hour second chances, and unconditional love opposed to the eye for an eye system of retribution encoded in Hamurabi s Code used by ancient Babylonians, Old Hebrew, the Romans, etc Cahill also attributes to Christianity the transformation of cultures that had engaged in human sacrifice, as well as the spread of literacy, eventually enabling commoners to read sacred scriptures He was a little scattered in his arguments It felt at times weak, yet he makes some good points However, he made slight mention of the atrocities perpetrated by the Spanish Inquisition I have mixed feelings about book 4,Sailing the Wine Dark Sea Why the Greeks Matter I was anticipating a rich account of who the Greeks were and how much they influenced modern civilization, but in that sense, it fell short of expectation The entire book felt a little flat However, I was intrigued by the notion of the Greeks as intellectual scavengers, sailing the Mediterranean to various ports and bringing the best ideas and inventions back to Athens and integrating them into their culture Eventually, these ideas trickled or gushed into other cultures, and remain part of civilization today

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