Crucible of Faith: The Ancient Revolution That Made Our Modern Religious World
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Crucible of Faith: The Ancient Revolution That Made Our Modern Religious World

Basic Books / 2017 / Hardcover

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Stock No: WW096404


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The New Testament proclaims a mighty cosmic vision of Heaven and Hell, angels and Satan, the Messiah and the Apocalypse. Yet although these ideas have their roots in the Old Testament, those earlier books imagined a very different and usually more limited spiritual universe than we find in historic Judaism and Christianity. What led to such a radical transformation of religious thought in the centuries following the closing of the Hebrew Bible?

In Crucible of Faith, Philip Jenkins describes how the Judeo-Christian tradition we know today was born between 250-50 BCE, during the turbulent “Crucible Era”—a time when Jews grappled with overwhelming forces of Hellenization and globalization. As a result, Judaism produced new religious ideas that responded to a changing world. The revolutionary politics of the 160s BCE fostered an apocalyptic worldview where earthly struggles reveal a cosmic significance, a universe dominated by angels and demons. By the time of the fall of the Temple in 70 CE, concepts that might once have seemed bizarre became normalized—and thus passed on to Christianity and later Islam.

Drawing widely on contemporary sources from outside the canonical Old and New Testaments, Jenkins reveals an era of political violence and social upheaval that ultimately gave birth to entirely new ideas about religion, the afterlife, and the nature of God and Satan.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: Basic Books
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 0465096409
ISBN-13: 9780465096404

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Publisher's Description


One of America's foremost scholars of religion examines the tumultuous era that gave birth to the modern Judeo-Christian tradition


In The Crucible of Faith, Philip Jenkins argues that much of the Judeo-Christian tradition we know today was born between 250-50 BCE, during a turbulent "Crucible Era." It was during these years that Judaism grappled with Hellenizing forces and produced new religious ideas that reflected and responded to their changing world. By the time of the fall of the Temple in 70 CE, concepts that might once have seemed bizarre became normalized-and thus passed on to Christianity and later Islam. Drawing widely on contemporary sources from outside the canonical Old and New Testaments, Jenkins reveals an era of political violence and social upheaval that ultimately gave birth to entirely new ideas about religion, the afterlife, Creation and the Fall, and the nature of God and Satan.

Author Bio


Philip Jenkins is a distinguished professor of history at the Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University. The author of twenty-seven books, Jenkins divides his time between Texas and Pennsylvania.

Editorial Reviews

"Absorbing and accessible...Like the writings of historian Karen Armstrong (A History of God), the book invites readers with a nonspecialist background to consider the historical roots of religious ideas and practices that many take for granted as eternal truths."
Publishers Weekly
"Jenkins tackles the intertestamental period or Crucible Era between the closure of the canonical Old Testament texts and before the birth of Jesus described in the New Testament.... Well-researched and well-argued."—Library Journal
"A well-written, intriguing account of the centuries that set the stage for modern Judaism, the Christianity taught by Paul, and, eventually, Islam."
Kirkus Reviews

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