Dominion by Tom Holland: Why it’s important to understand the Bible

Last weekend, the historian Tom Holland posted this on Twitter:

Book cover: Dominion by Tom Holland

He’s absolutely right. Recently I read his book, Dominion. It’s an absolutely fantastic book and I think everyone in the West should read it. Especially politicians and people with influence on the direction of our society! The subtitle is, “how the Christian revolution remade the world”. His big idea is that Christianity is the most revolutionary idea that’s ever existed. It has absolutely transformed our society, in ways that we don’t even notice now.

This is why he said in the tweet that no book has had a greater effect on your life than the Bible – even if you’ve never read it. The way that our society has been totally transformed by Christianity and the Bible is impossible to understand unless you look back through history.

This is what Dominion does: it goes back to the Greeks, before the time of Christ, and works its way forward. Holland originally became interested in writing the book because he found the world of antiquity so alien. They really did do things differently there – especially in terms of morality. Even things which we think of as being invented by the Greeks (such as democracy) were very different for them.

For me personally, I found it astonishing to see how deeply Christianity had changed the world. I thought I knew a fair bit about how the Bible had changed things, but even I didn’t realise how deep it went. It’s impossible to overstate the impact that the Bible has had on life in the West. So much of what we believe about right and wrong today can be traced to the Bible. Just to name a few:

  • The idea that kings and rulers should be under the same rules as everyone else (and not be allowed to do whatever they like)
  • The abolition of slavery;
  • The concept of equality;
  • The modern Western idea of democracy;
  • The #MeToo movement;
  • Human rights.

If you haven’t read Dominion, I can highly recommend it.

Find out more about Dominion

If you’d like to read a review which goes into a bit more detail, have a look at this Gospel Coalition review.

Speak Life did a really good interview with Tom Holland which you might want to watch.

How do I start to understand the Bible?

If you’d like to make a start, this website is the ideal place to be! Here are a few suggestions:

  • The What is Christianity course is an overview of the Christian faith. It’s basically a mini Bible overview – it will help you begin to understand the “big picture” of the Bible.;
  • I do a weekly series called Learn to read the Bible. The aim is to help you learn to read and understand the Bible for yourself.
  • Why not subscribe to the Understand the Bible on YouTube, Facebook or the Podcast where you’ll get regular updates!

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