In this book—the first volume in his groundbreaking trilogy on the emergence of western political thought—Francis Oakley explores the roots of secular political thinking by examining the political ideology and institutions of Hellenistic and late Roman antiquity and of the early European middle ages. By challenging the popular belief that the ancient Greek and Roman worlds provided the origins of our inherently secular politics, Oakley revises our understanding of the history of political theory in a fundamental and far-reaching manner that will reverberate for decades. This book lays the foundations for Oakley's next two volumes, which will develop his argument that it is in the Latin middle ages that we must seek the ideological roots of modern political secularism.
Francis Oakley is President Emeritus and Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas, Emeritus, at Williams College.
“Oakley confronts all the major historiographical currents relevant to his subject and reveals that none of them can withstand the force of his critique. There is indeed nothing comparable in the literature to this single effort on Oakley’s part. ”—Steven Marrone, Tufts University
“Francis Oakley has a long and distinguished record illuminating the interplay between politics, religion, and education in the history of Western Civilization. This new book, with its depth of learning, clarity of writing, and wisdom, is the best explication available of the inseparability of the religious and the secular in the ancient and medieval worlds.”—Jeffrey Burton Russell, author of A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence
~Jeffrey Burton Russell
"A masterful and challenging study, proposing no less than a paradigm shift in our understanding of ancient and medieval political theory in the global context of sacral kingship."—Marcia L. Colish, Yale University
~Maria L. Colish
"Oakley's central argument is simple and elegant. Its demonstration is sophisticated and challenging."—Thomas F. X. Noble, Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture
~Thomas F. X. Noble, Church History
Won the 2016 Haskins Medal from the Medieval Academy of America.
~Haskins Medal, Medieval Academy of America
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