Christ and History

In theory, it seems like a good idea.  The corpus of historian John Lukacs’s work is so rich and has grown so large that those who have just discovered it may be uncertain where to start.  His magnum opus, Historical Consciousness, alone has gone through three editions, all of which are worth reading as separate works.  Combine that with the regrettable condition that some of his more accessible works—Outgrowing Democracy and The Passing of the Modern Age, for instance—are out of print (and used copies are very hard to find), and the need for a compact introduction to Lukacs’s thought seems obvious.  Unfortunately, for all of its virtues, At the End of an Age is not that book.

Lukacs would be the first to admit—or, rather, insist—that theory and reality do not always mesh.  Ideas develop in an historical context, but they are also shaped by the actions of men as much as (indeed, perhaps more so than) they shape those actions.  As Lukacs is fond of saying, writing of the half-truths of historian E.H. Carr’s analysis, “the important question is ‘What is Carr driving at?’ and not ‘What is the make of this Carr?’”  But that is precisely why, in order to understand an historian’s work, it is essential to have some knowledge of the historian.  Lukacs is correct when he writes...

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