Cover image for Gibbon’s Christianity: Religion, Reason, and the Fall of Rome By Hugh Liebert

Gibbon’s Christianity

Religion, Reason, and the Fall of Rome

Hugh Liebert

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$104.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09235-5

204 pages
6" × 9"
2022

Gibbon’s Christianity

Religion, Reason, and the Fall of Rome

Hugh Liebert

“Liebert has made extensive use of the most recent scholarship, and his study broadens the context for understanding Gibbon’s words by discussing in detail the kinds of narratives of conversion that were familiar to Gibbon and in light of which he shaped his own distinctive story. One of the most striking features of Gibbon’s Christianity is that it re-creates the genealogy of Gibbon’s evolution in telling his own story and that of Rome. The connection of the two, as shown here in detail, is an outstanding advance in the scholarship on the author and his great work.”

 

  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
There has never been much doubt about the faith of the “infidel historian” Edward Gibbon. But for all of Gibbon’s skepticism regarding Christianity’s central doctrines, the author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire did not merely seek to oppose Christianity; he confronted it as a philosophical and historical puzzle. Gibbon’s Christianity tallies the results and conditions of that confrontation.

Using rich correspondence, private journals, early works, and memoirs that were never completed, Hugh Liebert provides intimate access to Gibbon’s life in order to better understand his complex relationship with religion. Approaching the Decline and Fall from the context surrounding its conception, Liebert shows how Gibbon adapted explanations of the Roman republic’s rise to account for a new spiritual republic and, subsequently, the rise of modern Europe. Taken together, Liebert’s analysis of this context, including the nuance of Gibbon’s relationship to Christianity, and his readings of Gibbon’s better- and lesser-known texts suggest a historian more eager to comprehend Christianity’s worldly power than to sneer at or dismiss it.

Eminently readable and wholly accessible to anyone interested in or familiar with the Decline and Fall, this groundbreaking reassessment of Gibbon’s most famous work will appeal especially to scholars of eighteenth-century studies.

“Liebert has made extensive use of the most recent scholarship, and his study broadens the context for understanding Gibbon’s words by discussing in detail the kinds of narratives of conversion that were familiar to Gibbon and in light of which he shaped his own distinctive story. One of the most striking features of Gibbon’s Christianity is that it re-creates the genealogy of Gibbon’s evolution in telling his own story and that of Rome. The connection of the two, as shown here in detail, is an outstanding advance in the scholarship on the author and his great work.”

Hugh Liebert is Associate Professor of American Politics in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. He is the author of Plutarch’s Politics: Between City and Empire.

Acknowledgements

List of Abbreviations

Introduction

1. Religious Controversies and Conversions in the Time of Gibbon

2. Gibbon’s Autobiographies

3. Essai

4. The Rise of Christianity

5. General Observations

Conclusion

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Download a PDF sample chapter here: Introduction