This fifth volume in John Pocock's acclaimed sequence on Barbarism and Religion turns to the controversy caused by Edward Gibbon's treatment of the early Christian church. Examining this controversy in unprecedented depth, Pocock challenges the assumption that Gibbon wrote with the intention of destroying belief in the Christian revelation, and questions our understanding of the character of 'enlightenment'. Reconsidering the genesis, inception and reception of these crucial chapters of Decline and Fall, Pocock explores the response of Gibbon's critics, affirming that his reputation as an unbeliever was established before his history of the Church had been written. The magnitude of Barbarism and Religion is already apparent. Religion: The First Triumph will be read not just as a remarkable analysis of the making of Decline and Fall, but also as a comment on the collision of belief and disbelief, a subject as pertinent now as it was to Gibbon's eighteenth-century readers.
J. G. A. Pocock was educated at the Universities of Canterbury and Cambridge, and is now Harry C. Black Emeritus Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University.
Introduction; Part I. Gibbon's Orthodox Sources: 1. The Christian ancients: Eusebius and the fathers; 2. The Catholic moderns: history and authority; Part II. The Sources of Protestant Enlightenment: 3. Jean Le Clerc and the history of language; 4. The Historia Ecclesiastica and the impact of Le Clerc; 5. Isaac de Beausobre: heresy, philosophy, history; 6. Johann Lorenz von Mosheim: modern ecclesiastical historian; Part III. The Two Chapters Explored: 7. The English setting; 8. Gibbon's fifteenth chapter: the spread of Christianity and the rise of the clergy; 9. The sixteenth chapter: intolerance, persecution and philosophy; Part IV. Controversy and Continuation: 10. The reception of the two chapters and the invention of the author; 11. Epilogue and prologue.