History of European Ideas 35 (2):209-216 (2009)

Jeffrey Pocock
University of London
Before Edward Gibbon began his history of the Christian empire, he ended the first volume of the “Decline and Fall” with two chapters on the rise of Christianity before Constantine. These were believed to deny or ignore its character as revelation. It was also pointed out that this purpose was irrelevant to the history he had set out to write. The church historians he read focussed on the interactions between the Christian gospel and Hellenic philosophy. Gibbon, however, chose to emphasize the Christian rejection of cultic polytheism, and gave a Humean account of the early Christians as enthusiasts. Five years elapsed between the first and second volumes of his history. By the latter date his reputation as an unbeliever was established, and has since received more attention than the history he wrote
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DOI 10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2009.02.002
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