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Karl Kautsky is probably the first Marxist to interest himself both in the movement and the enigmatic personality of the crucified prophet. His 1908 book The Foundations of Christianity is a rather impressive attempt at a Marxist analysis. The book is rather original, innovative and has been rranslated into nine languages. Kaustky made his Foundations of Christianity into Karl Kautsky is probably the first Marxist to interest himself both in the movement and the enigmatic personality of the crucified prophet. His 1908 book The Foundations of Christianity is a rather impressive attempt at a Marxist analysis. The book is rather original, innovative and has been rranslated into nine languages. Kaustky made his Foundations of Christianity into one of the most popular Marxist theoretical works. Its popular success is probably due to the interest of socialist militants to see a vision of the origins of Christianity which permits the modern workers' movement to appropriate to itself the figure of Jesus as a prophet and martyr for the proletarian cause. Kautsky wanted to interpret early Christianity as a precursor of the contemporary working class socialist movement. His friend, and later his opponent, Rosa Luxemburg, in an article of 1905 called "The Church and Socialism insisted that the first Christian apostles were Communists who denounced injustice and the cult of the Golden Calf". He counterposed a materialist account of the new religion against the Christian mythology and showed the capacity of the Marxist method to give an account of a complex historical process, interpreting a religious phenomenon in terms of the class struggle. The book is divided into four sections: 1) Society at the time of the Roman Empire: the slave economy, the absolutist forms of the state, the different manifestations of cultural and religious crisis. 2) Judaism: the class conflicts of Israelite society and the various political-religious currents (Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots and Essene. 3) The beginnings of Christianity: the early Christian communities, the idea of the messianic Christ and Christian communism. 4) The fourth section is dedicated to the "personality of Jesus". According to Kautsky, what distinguishes Jesus' messianism from the other rebellious Jewish prophets of the era - all of whom had a strictly national character - is its social character, its calling as an international redeemer. "Only the social Messiah, not the national, could transcend the limits of Judaism", survive the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and, above all, find a hearing among the poor of all nations. By associating the hostility of the oppressed classes to the rich with proletarian solidarity, the messianism of the Christian communities promised the redemption of the poor, and so it could gain followers beyond the Jewish world. In the last analysis, Jesus, "the crucified proletarian Messiah" managed to defeat Rome and conquer the world, but in the course of this process the Christian movement suffered an "inverse dialectic":it lost its proletarian and communist character and was transformed into a state religion, under the control of a vast dominating and exploiting apparatus - the Church.


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Karl Kautsky is probably the first Marxist to interest himself both in the movement and the enigmatic personality of the crucified prophet. His 1908 book The Foundations of Christianity is a rather impressive attempt at a Marxist analysis. The book is rather original, innovative and has been rranslated into nine languages. Kaustky made his Foundations of Christianity into Karl Kautsky is probably the first Marxist to interest himself both in the movement and the enigmatic personality of the crucified prophet. His 1908 book The Foundations of Christianity is a rather impressive attempt at a Marxist analysis. The book is rather original, innovative and has been rranslated into nine languages. Kaustky made his Foundations of Christianity into one of the most popular Marxist theoretical works. Its popular success is probably due to the interest of socialist militants to see a vision of the origins of Christianity which permits the modern workers' movement to appropriate to itself the figure of Jesus as a prophet and martyr for the proletarian cause. Kautsky wanted to interpret early Christianity as a precursor of the contemporary working class socialist movement. His friend, and later his opponent, Rosa Luxemburg, in an article of 1905 called "The Church and Socialism insisted that the first Christian apostles were Communists who denounced injustice and the cult of the Golden Calf". He counterposed a materialist account of the new religion against the Christian mythology and showed the capacity of the Marxist method to give an account of a complex historical process, interpreting a religious phenomenon in terms of the class struggle. The book is divided into four sections: 1) Society at the time of the Roman Empire: the slave economy, the absolutist forms of the state, the different manifestations of cultural and religious crisis. 2) Judaism: the class conflicts of Israelite society and the various political-religious currents (Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots and Essene. 3) The beginnings of Christianity: the early Christian communities, the idea of the messianic Christ and Christian communism. 4) The fourth section is dedicated to the "personality of Jesus". According to Kautsky, what distinguishes Jesus' messianism from the other rebellious Jewish prophets of the era - all of whom had a strictly national character - is its social character, its calling as an international redeemer. "Only the social Messiah, not the national, could transcend the limits of Judaism", survive the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and, above all, find a hearing among the poor of all nations. By associating the hostility of the oppressed classes to the rich with proletarian solidarity, the messianism of the Christian communities promised the redemption of the poor, and so it could gain followers beyond the Jewish world. In the last analysis, Jesus, "the crucified proletarian Messiah" managed to defeat Rome and conquer the world, but in the course of this process the Christian movement suffered an "inverse dialectic":it lost its proletarian and communist character and was transformed into a state religion, under the control of a vast dominating and exploiting apparatus - the Church.

30 review for Foundations of Christianity: A Study in Christian Origins

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Ibrahim

    العنوان الأصلي للكتاب هو: أسس المسيحية.. دراسة في أصول المسيحية. يتتبع الكاتب نشأة المسيحية من خلال دراسة تاريخية واجتماعية واقتصادية للعصر الذي نشأت فيه من خلال دراسة روما القديمة وأورشليم، وصولا إن التكوين البيروقراطي للكنيسة وإعلانها دين الدولة على يد قسطنطين. كتاب جيد ولكنه قديم، يعتمد على المنهج الصراعي أو الماركسي في علم الاجتماع لتحليل أصول المسيحية. يعتمد في الجزء الخاص بدراسة أورشليم على دراسات قديمة تعود إلى "فلهاوزن" عن العهد القديم، لكن هذه الرؤية تم تجاوزها وطرح دراسات أخرى مع التطور العنوان الأصلي للكتاب هو: أسس المسيحية.. دراسة في أصول المسيحية. يتتبع الكاتب نشأة المسيحية من خلال دراسة تاريخية واجتماعية واقتصادية للعصر الذي نشأت فيه من خلال دراسة روما القديمة وأورشليم، وصولا إن التكوين البيروقراطي للكنيسة وإعلانها دين الدولة على يد قسطنطين. كتاب جيد ولكنه قديم، يعتمد على المنهج الصراعي أو الماركسي في علم الاجتماع لتحليل أصول المسيحية. يعتمد في الجزء الخاص بدراسة أورشليم على دراسات قديمة تعود إلى "فلهاوزن" عن العهد القديم، لكن هذه الرؤية تم تجاوزها وطرح دراسات أخرى مع التطور الأركيولوجي الحديث. ويمكن أن نشير إلى نقطة أخرى مميزة وهي وقوفه على التشابه ما بين الإسنيين والجماعة المسيحية الأولى، وقد انطلق فراس السواح في كتابيه "الوجه الآخر للمسيح" و"ألغاز الإنجيل" من طرح مشابه ولكن أكثر راديكالية بتحليله الأصل الإسني للمسيح وأن تعاليمه أو روح أفكاره الأصلية غنوصية تنمتي إلى الفرقة الإسنية في بعض النقاط. في المجمل دراسة منهجية هامة وجيدة بالرغم من قدمها.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Yousef Nabil

    انتهيت من رحلة طوييييييلة مع هذا الكتاب المبهر. المرة الأولى التي سمعت فيها عن ذلك اكلتاب، كانت أثناء ترجمتي للمقالة الرئيسة بكتاب "الوضع البشري المعاصر" لفروم، وهي مقالة بعنوان: "عقيدة المسيح". عاد فروم إلى ذلك الكتاب، لكنه اختلف معه في بعض المناحي. تحاول مقالة فروم تحليل العقيدة المسيحية من منظور التحليل النفسي الاجتماعي، بينما يحاول كاوتسكي تحليل العقيدة المسيحية من منظور ماركسي. استغرق كاوتسكي ثلثي الكتاب تقريبًا في التحدث عن الدولة الرومانية وبنيتها الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية، ثم التحد انتهيت من رحلة طوييييييلة مع هذا الكتاب المبهر. المرة الأولى التي سمعت فيها عن ذلك اكلتاب، كانت أثناء ترجمتي للمقالة الرئيسة بكتاب "الوضع البشري المعاصر" لفروم، وهي مقالة بعنوان: "عقيدة المسيح". عاد فروم إلى ذلك الكتاب، لكنه اختلف معه في بعض المناحي. تحاول مقالة فروم تحليل العقيدة المسيحية من منظور التحليل النفسي الاجتماعي، بينما يحاول كاوتسكي تحليل العقيدة المسيحية من منظور ماركسي. استغرق كاوتسكي ثلثي الكتاب تقريبًا في التحدث عن الدولة الرومانية وبنيتها الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية، ثم التحدث عن اليهود، حتى وصل في الثلث الأخير وحب إلى التحدث عن المسيحية. الحقيقة يبدو الكتاب مبهرًا بكل معنى الكلمة، وفي أوقات كثيرة يقدم التحليل الماركسي نتائج رائعة ومذهلة، ولكن في بعض الأحيان تظهر عيوبه، حينما تكون هناك حاجة ماسة لمناهج أخرى، ويبدو مثلا افتقار التحليل الماركسي إلى نظرة نفسية عميقة. في كل الأحوال الكتاب رائع جدًا جدًا، ويطرح تساؤلات مثيرة ويقدم نتائج هائلة تزيد من بصيرة القارئ، مهما اختلف معها. استفدت منه بشكل شخصي إلى أبعد حد.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emad Sembawy

    الرفاق الاعزاء اذا توفر لكم الوقت رجاء ان تولوا هذا الكتاب اهتماما كافيا فهو نموذج فى النظر لتاريخ الديانات فى صلتها بالاوضاع الاقتصادية الاجتماعية . وهو يحاول ان يطبق عليها المنهج المادى التاريخى . وفى كل الاحوال كتب الكتاب قبل " انحراف" كاوتسكى بزمن طويل - كما اطلع انجلز على صيغته الاولى التى صدرت تحت عنوان : رواد الاشتراكية الرفاق الاعزاء اذا توفر لكم الوقت رجاء ان تولوا هذا الكتاب اهتماما كافيا فهو نموذج فى النظر لتاريخ الديانات فى صلتها بالاوضاع الاقتصادية الاجتماعية . وهو يحاول ان يطبق عليها المنهج المادى التاريخى . وفى كل الاحوال كتب الكتاب قبل " انحراف" كاوتسكى بزمن طويل - كما اطلع انجلز على صيغته الاولى التى صدرت تحت عنوان : رواد الاشتراكية

  4. 4 out of 5

    James F

    (Review of a different Kindle edition, 532 pages) For Christmas this year I read a book about Jesus -- you know, the "reason for the season" and all that . . . . [insert appropriate emoticon here]. This is a classic work, usually translated into English as The Foundations of Christianity. Last month I read a similarly titled German book (though in translation) from 1841, Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity, which was an influence on the early Marx; this book, by a leading Marxist of the (Review of a different Kindle edition, 532 pages) For Christmas this year I read a book about Jesus -- you know, the "reason for the season" and all that . . . . [insert appropriate emoticon here]. This is a classic work, usually translated into English as The Foundations of Christianity. Last month I read a similarly titled German book (though in translation) from 1841, Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity, which was an influence on the early Marx; this book, by a leading Marxist of the generation after Marx, is a complete contrast in every way, and demonstrates the difference that Marx made, even leaving aside his economic theories and views on revolution and communism, in the way that we view and discuss history and even religion. The earlier book discusses Christianity in an abstract, philosophical and psychological way, which makes it seem as if it could have originated (in its nineteenth century Lutheran form) at any time from the stone age to the present, in any part of the world -- the preconditions are all in the nature of man as a species and the development is a kind of quasi-logical deduction. Kautsky's work, on the other hand, begins from the social, economic and historical conditions of the particular place and time that Christianity originated and developed in, showing why and in what social classes it arose and spread and why it found such a successful reception. This is one of the best works I have read on early Christianity, although I have a few reservations. Kautsky begins with a very modern-sounding critique of attempts to explain Christianity from the character and teachings of a historical Jesus (Ch.I). He points out that, apart from obvious Christian interpolations, there are no non-Christian sources for the existence, much less the life of Jesus. He gives examples of ancient historiography, showing that all the ancient historians from Thucydides to the end of antiquity wrote history as edification or polemic, and attributed speeches to the main actors, not as some sort of transcript that somehow survived but as what these generals, statesmen, philosophers, etc. (in the opinion of the historian) would have or should have said in the given circumstances. He points out that it was very unlikely (read: impossible) that anyone recorded the sermons and prayers of Jesus and transmitted them word for word to be translated long after into another language and incorporated in the gospels. In fact, the gospels give us not the biography of the historical Jesus or his actual teachings but the views about him that were held by the Christian communities of the time that they were written (many decades after his death, at the earliest), and represent the disagreements and polemics between them. In short, any speculation about Jesus is bound to be wrong; what we can, however, get from these sources is a picture of the early church, and that is what is of real interest from a historical point of view -- not who the man Jesus was or what he said, but why and how the Christian church as a real, historically important institution spread through the world and gained the dominant position it held from the fourth century to almost the present day (the "almost" is Kautsky's optimism.) He then (Ch. II) gives a sketch of the rise and fall of the Roman Republic and the early days of the Empire, primarily from an economic viewpoint, showing why the society of the early Empire would find the doctrines of Christianity so attractive (and points out, interestingly at such an early date, that nearly all the elements of Christianity existed separately or in various combinations in other sects and movements of the time). Next (Ch. III) he moves to Palestine, and gives a history of the Hebrew people from their beginnings to the return from exile, explaining the origins of Judaism from the economic position of the country, its trade relations and so forth, and describes the situation of Jews in the diaspora. Then he combines the two strands to give a materialist description of the history of Judea from the return to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the class relations represented by the four major parties or groupings at the time of Jesus, the Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots and Essenes. After this background, he turns to Christianity itself (Ch. IV, sec. 1), and argues quite convincingly that the original Christian community practiced "consumer-communism" (as he defines it at more length in his other book I read this year, on the communist sects at the time of the Reformation.) This all makes up more than half the book. Of course, the book is somewhat over a hundred years old, and many of the specific "facts" he is trying to explain simply weren't the case; but overall he gives a good, clear explanation of the environment in which Christianity developed. With respect to the Roman history, he is certainly on the right track in seeing the decline of the Empire essentially as the result of internal economic causes, with the barbarian invasions and so forth as a result of the decline rather than its cause; some details might need to be revised, and of course he wasn't aware of the climatic changes we know about now, but I found this part very informative. (I do intend soon to read a more recent (half-century rather than century old) book on the decline of the Empire, from a similar materialist perspective, Perry Anderson's Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism, which has been on my shelves since the more political days of my youth.) While, again unusually for the time, Kautsky recognizes that the Old Testament, whatever we may surmise about its original sources, was written in its present form to meet the ideological needs of the post-exile theocracy, his sketch of Hebrew history uses it much more literally than many scholars today (especially of a "minimalist" orientation) would be comfortable with. Finally, his account of the later Jewish history is based very largely on Josephus, and his account of the Essenes was written long before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. My major reservations however are not about this first half of the book. The problem is, he then (Ch. IV, sec. 2) does just what he argued at the beginning was impossible: he tries to separate out the "genuine" early traditions in the gospels and Acts of the Apostles, to arrive a a construction of -- the historical Jesus! Granted, he does not attempt to reconstruct the religious doctrines, but he has a particular view of who Jesus was: the founder of a communist sect among the lower classes of Jerusalem, who also led an unsuccessful attempt at insurrection against the Romans and was captured and crucified. Now, this is not impossible, but it is very speculative (as he admits), and I've read too many other versions of the "historical Jesus" to be convinced: from those who essentially begin from a "synoptic" gospel view, minus the miracles (I leave out of account those who accept the miracles -- that's religion, not history -- or those who take the gospels as literally true but try to "explain" the miracles as fakes, like The Passover Plot, which is just senseless), to the various accounts from Schweizer to Chilton and the "Jesus Seminar", which variously interpret him as an apocalyptic preacher, an Essene, a renegade Pharisee, a Cynic philosopher, etc., to the extreme views that he was a Greek god or a psychedelic mushroom (at least that one was fun.) Kautsky at least has the advantage of basing his speculations on economic and historical reality, but it's still just speculation, and I would rather he had kept to his original promise of beginning with the Christian communities at the time we have evidence for. He does return to this in Ch. IV, sec. 3-4, presenting the (still speculative, but better supported) view of the first century church as originally an entirely lower class, communist organization (in the sense of consumer-communism) organized around common meals (and in Jerusalem at least a common residence), and a mutual-support organization, with an ideology based on the idea that Jesus was the Messiah who would return again to punish the rich and reward the poor. In his view, what principally distinguished the Christians from similar Messianic sects of the times was what he calls its "internationalism", that is, that it replaced the ethnic hatred of Jews against Romans with a class hatred of poor against rich. (As I was reading this, my Facebook feed got several memes about Jesus as a long-haired anarchist etc., you've all seen them I'm sure; while we know nothing much about the real Jesus, this was certainly the view that the early church had of him and of itself.) In sec. 3 he follows this out, arguing that the class rather than ethnic basis of the Christian community allowed it initially to spread among the Jews of the diaspora, to the gentile sympathizers who accepted the Jewish monotheism and attended the synagogue without accepting the whole Mosaic law, and from there to the non-Jewish proletariat. (I should note that throughout the book, Kautsky, confusingly to those who know he is a Marxist, uses the term "proletariat" or "proletarian" in more or less its original latin sense of those without property, which would include the -- very small -- proletariat in the modern sense, i.e. wage-workers, but also semi-skilled artisans, peddlars and small-scale traders (think of a flea-market or the markets in underdeveloped countries), beggers, and others who were not actual workers in the modern sense.) He argues that outside Jerusalem, the high price of houses and the largely underground status of the communities eliminated the possibility of common residence and focused the "communist" tendency entirely on the common meals, while the influx of non-Jewish members led to other changes in the nature of the organization, which resulted in a split between Jewish and non-Jewish Christian communities. Especially after the destruction of Jerusalem the Christians began to try to distance themselves from the Jews who were largely a stateless and persecuted minority and play down their opposition to Rome (Ch. IV, sec. 4 is devoted to a discussion of the "Passion history" in the four gospels, showing how it contradicts itself and gets involved in many obvious absurdities from even a logical, let alone historical view, in trying to turn the blame for the crucifixion from the Romans onto the Jews.) At the same time, he points out, the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of its population led the diaspora Jews themselves to band together as Jews without regard to class distinctions, resulting in the collapse of the Jewish Christian communities and essentially leaving Christianity as a Hellenistic movement. He attempts to give evidence for this from the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of "Paul" to various churches, as well as some early non-scriptural sources such as the Didache and the writings of what Catholics call the Apostolic Fathers (most of which I have read, and his interpretation seems reasonable enough.) With Ch. IV, sec. 5 he begins the story of the change of Christianity from this original radical proletarian organization to the "Oppression and Exploitation Machine" that was the later church. He argues that after the destruction of Jerusalem, the plausibility of any overthrow of Roman power disappeared. This change explains the turn to the anti-Jewish, pro-Roman orientation mentioned above, but more importantly, as the church became less an organization for struggle and more of a mutual support organization for its members, it required money. There were rich supporters who were attracted to the Christians by their doctrines, especially about salvation and resurrection (and Heaven and Hell after death, which now largely replaced the idea of the coming of an earthly Kingdom of God for the poor.) At first, they were not allowed as full members of the congregations unless they sold their possessions and gave the money to the poor (i.e. to the church community), but gradually it became enough to make a large donation and they could belong to the church despite still being rich. This resulted in downplaying the original class hatred. There is an interesting passage, although much earlier in the book, where Kautsky contrasts the Gospel according to Luke with the Gospel according to Matthew, showing how the class content of the former is converted into a religious-only content in the latter (the parable of Lazarus disappears completely, in the Sermon on the Mount "blessed are the poor", "blessed are they that hunger" become "blessed are the poor in spirit", "blessed are they that hunger after rightousness", and so forth.) Kautsky asssumes that this is because the Gospel according to Matthew is a few decades later, but it seems to me (I don't know what modern scholars hold about the chronology) that it could just as well represent different congregations, since the process would not have taken place at the same rate everywhere. At the same time, as the communities grew, the tasks that were originally taken on by various members as voluntary "callings" took so much time and skill that they had to be given to full-time paid officials, and the official who held the common purse and paid these salaries, the Bishop, grew correspondingly in importance. However, it was precisely the Bishop, as the one responsible for finances, who had the most interest in attracting and keeping well-to-do members, and so played the major role in the changes in the composition of the church. As time went on, the Apostles, that is to say the travelling preachers, became less important relative to the local presbyters (the origin of the word "priest") and teachers, who were paid by and eventually therefore appointed by the Bishop; and the connections between communities, which they had been the ones to keep up, were kept up through conferences of the Bishops, which also increased the powers of the Bishops over their own congregations as representatives of the common or "catholic" church. I won't go over the whole process, but this is perhaps the most interesting part of the book, how the church became bureaucratized and the hierarchy (the word literally in Greek means "rule by priests") turned it into its opposite, an institution for supporting the imperial government and the rich against the poor. The main point is that this change, the real "apostasy" of the church, was not primarily a change in religion and was not brought about consciously by some sort of conspiracy, as Protestants seem to think (although insofar as they still support the rich against the poor and obedience to "constitued" authority, for all their claims to be "reformed" or "restored" they are still on the post-apostasy side of the development), but was a natural, unavoidable (and largely unconscious) process connected with the growth of the church. The result, however, was that the church which "triumphed" under Constantine and became the dominant power in the western world was not the original proletarian church but its opposite, a church controlled by the rich and powerful. There was no "victory of Christianity" over heathen society, the church that won the victory was one with the previously heathen society it replaced. Kautsky says in one place that the proletarian struggle today cannot take the religious form it did in the days of the early church; of course he is right that it cannot succeed that way, but it seems that it can in fact take religious forms and still does. In reading his description of the early Christians, for example, I frequently found myself thinking of the Rastafarians in Jamaica. But Kautsky has a very different comparison in mind; his last section is devoted to a comparison of early Christianity to the social-democratic movement he was so personally involved with. Essentially, this last section tries to show that, although social-democracy was growing and developing a bureaucracy, this bureaucracy could not betray the workers, could not turn the movement into its opposite. I won't go over his arguments; he was proved wrong only six years later when the social-democratic leadership in nearly all countries led the proletariat into the bloodbath of World War I as followers of their "own" bourgeois governments. Kautsky, to his credit, opposed this. He also -- perhaps initially wrongly -- opposed the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, which very quickly became bureaucratized and turned into its opposite just as Christianity had centuries earlier. [The e-book edition I read specifically says in its description on Amazon that it was "carefully proofread". Would that it had been so; it's full of typos, mostly of the kind that would not show up on spell-check, which is apparently what "careful proofreading" means today (either the typos form real, though wrong, words, or contain numbers which are ignored by spellcheck.) I have to admit that it is not the kind of gibberish that foreign language e-books so often are today, though -- perhaps the OCR program they used was actually designed for German.]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Goff

    I recently re-read this classic work by Kautsky after I had developed an interest in the historicity of Jesus. Although the book was written in 1925, it holds up remarkably well. It is a very sweeping look at the life and times of first century Roman society, with a particular focus on the Jewish origins of Christianity. Kautsky offers a penetrating class analysis of Roman society and the early Christians viewing the Christians as an early proletarian group, with proletarian values but of course I recently re-read this classic work by Kautsky after I had developed an interest in the historicity of Jesus. Although the book was written in 1925, it holds up remarkably well. It is a very sweeping look at the life and times of first century Roman society, with a particular focus on the Jewish origins of Christianity. Kautsky offers a penetrating class analysis of Roman society and the early Christians viewing the Christians as an early proletarian group, with proletarian values but of course restricted to the level of material and cultural development of their day. Although there are certain interpretations that he offers that clash with later scholarship (post-Dead Sea Scrolls, post-Nag Hammadi), overall it still compares favorably. And he's just plain funny. Well worth the read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    It's an easy read, mostly because if you have read materialist criticism before, it falls into line. His derision and harsh rhetoric are comic at times, but it comes across as very unbalanced. As he writes in his introduction, he is not an expert in the field of biblical studies or theology, so his treatment of the subject is somewhat superficial. His perspective is unapologetically skewed toward socio-economic critique, specifically communism. He calls early Christianity's existence a communism It's an easy read, mostly because if you have read materialist criticism before, it falls into line. His derision and harsh rhetoric are comic at times, but it comes across as very unbalanced. As he writes in his introduction, he is not an expert in the field of biblical studies or theology, so his treatment of the subject is somewhat superficial. His perspective is unapologetically skewed toward socio-economic critique, specifically communism. He calls early Christianity's existence a communism of consumption, which later devolved into the Roman culture of primitive agrarian economy. He takes a fairly lengthy section in explaining why none of the tenants, ideologies, or practices of Christianity are unique, which I thought entertaining but highly simplistic. Even the communism he sees in the early church he traces to the new cultural emphasis on taking care of widows and orphans, because Greco-Roman thought has shifted toward individualism, breaking down community ties (I mean, what?). Again, it's a fast read, but I would suggest some background in marxist thought before diving in, so you can take him with a grain of salt.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Kautsky's book on the effects of Christianity on the masses, while dryly pedantic in only the fashion that a Soviet Marxist could write at the turn of the last century, is fairly accurate in its depiction of that particular religion as being the heaviest oppressor of the greater parts of society. Not the best read on the subject (quite honestly, unless you're really into this, it's actually very boring), but it is a fairly accurate condemnation of the practices of the Christian Church over it's h Kautsky's book on the effects of Christianity on the masses, while dryly pedantic in only the fashion that a Soviet Marxist could write at the turn of the last century, is fairly accurate in its depiction of that particular religion as being the heaviest oppressor of the greater parts of society. Not the best read on the subject (quite honestly, unless you're really into this, it's actually very boring), but it is a fairly accurate condemnation of the practices of the Christian Church over it's history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Giselle Odessa

    العنوان الأصلي للكتاب هو "أسس المسيحية, دراسة في أصول المسيحية" يتحدث الكاتب عن الأديان من وجهة نظر المادية التاريخية, و صلة الأوضاع الإقتصادية في نشأة الأديان و طبيعتها. يعرض الكتاب طبيعة الاوضاع التي كانت سائدة قبل ظهور المسيحية ثم بداية نشأتها و تأثرها بالفلسفات السائدة حينها, و يتحدث عن اليهودية و نشأتها و تأثيرها على المسيحية. و أخيراً يظهر أوجه التشابه و الإختلاف بين الإشتراكية و المسيحية. العنوان الأصلي للكتاب هو "أسس المسيحية, دراسة في أصول المسيحية" يتحدث الكاتب عن الأديان من وجهة نظر المادية التاريخية, و صلة الأوضاع الإقتصادية في نشأة الأديان و طبيعتها. يعرض الكتاب طبيعة الاوضاع التي كانت سائدة قبل ظهور المسيحية ثم بداية نشأتها و تأثرها بالفلسفات السائدة حينها, و يتحدث عن اليهودية و نشأتها و تأثيرها على المسيحية. و أخيراً يظهر أوجه التشابه و الإختلاف بين الإشتراكية و المسيحية.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Radostinski

    I am by far not a Marxist, but historical materialism usually gives the best explanations about distant times like those, when Jesus appeared. A must read for everyone interested in the origins of not only Christianity, but religion itself.

  10. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    christianity arises out of slave economics of the bloody romans, or so.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

  12. 4 out of 5

    Souhaïl Goulita

  13. 5 out of 5

    James

  14. 4 out of 5

    Greg Williams

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amin Hamzawy

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bhaskar Sunkara

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joel

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Moaz Mohamed

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  22. 4 out of 5

    Loren

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Willis

  24. 4 out of 5

    Juan Manuel

  25. 4 out of 5

    NELS

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dmitry Erohin

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dr Peter Kalve

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hassen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

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