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Stock photo. Brand new: lowest price The lowest-priced brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging where packaging is applicable. See details. In response, Gibbon defended his work with the publication of A Vindication Gibbon's comments on the Quran and Muhammad reflected his view of the secular origin of the text. He outlined in chapter 33 the widespread tale of the Seven Sleepers ,  and remarked "This popular tale, which Mahomet might learn when he drove his camels to the fairs of Syria, is introduced, as a divine revelation, into the Quran.
A special revelation dispensed him from the laws which he had imposed on his nation: the female sex, without reserve, was abandoned to his desires; and this singular prerogative excited the envy, rather than the scandal, the veneration, rather than the envy, of the devout Mussulmans. Gibbon described the Jews as " a race of fanatics, whose dire and credulous superstition seemed to render them the implacable enemies not only of the Roman government, but also of humankind ". Because of his view Gibbon has been charged with antisemitism. Gibbon challenged Church history by estimating far smaller numbers of Christian martyrs than had been traditionally accepted.
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The Church's version of its early history had rarely been questioned before. Gibbon, however, knew that modern Church writings were secondary sources , and he shunned them in favor of primary sources. Volume I was originally published in sections, as was common for large works at the time. The first two were well received and widely praised. Gibbon thought that Christianity had hastened the Fall, but also ameliorated the results:. As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction, or at least the abuse of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire.
The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers' pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity.
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Faith, zeal, curiosity, and more earthly passions of malice and ambition, kindled the flame of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody and always implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country. Yet party-spirit, however pernicious or absurd, is a principle of union as well as of dissension. The bishops, from eighteen hundred pulpits, inculcated the duty of passive obedience to a lawful and orthodox sovereign; their frequent assemblies and perpetual correspondence maintained the communion of distant churches; and the benevolent temper of the Gospel was strengthened, though confirmed, by the spiritual alliance of the Catholics.
The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of the republic. Religious precepts are easily obeyed which indulge and sanctify the natural inclinations of their votaries; but the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect, effects on the barbarian proselytes of the North.
If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors chap. Voltaire was deemed to have influenced Gibbon's claim that Christianity was a contributor to the fall of the Roman Empire. As one pro-Christian commenter put it in The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosophers as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.
He has been criticized for his portrayal of Paganism as tolerant and Christianity as intolerant.
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Drake challenges an understanding of religious persecution in ancient Rome , which he considers to be the "conceptual scheme" that was used by historians to deal with the topic for the last years, and whose most eminent representative is Gibbon. Drake counters:. With such deft strokes, Gibbon enters into a conspiracy with his readers: unlike the credulous masses, he and we are cosmopolitans who know the uses of religion as an instrument of social control. So doing, Gibbon skirts a serious problem: for three centuries prior to Constantine, the tolerant pagans who people the Decline and Fall were the authors of several major persecutions, in which Christians were the victims.
Gibbon covered this embarrassing hole in his argument with an elegant demur. Others such as John Julius Norwich , despite their admiration for his furthering of historical methodology, consider Gibbon's hostile views on the Byzantine Empire flawed and blame him somewhat for the lack of interest shown in the subject throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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Gibbon's initial plan was to write a history " of the decline and fall of the city of Rome ", and only later expanded his scope to the whole Roman Empire:. If I prosecute this History , I shall not be unmindful of the decline and fall of the city of Rome; an interesting object, to which my plan was originally confined.
Although he published other books, Gibbon devoted much of his life to this one work — His autobiography Memoirs of My Life and Writings is devoted largely to his reflections on how the book virtually became his life. He compared the publication of each succeeding volume to a newborn child.