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Pope Gregory better referred to as the Gregory the Great in English, was a pope from September 3, 590 until his death on March 640. Gregory the Great was born not to one of the “foremost senatorial families”, although they had their family possessed extensive properties both in Rome and in Sicily. Generally, Gregory is highly recognized for his exceptional writing skills that were more prolific as compared to any other pope. During the middle ages, Gregory the great was known as the “Father of Christian worship” due to his unrelenting efforts aimed at revising Roman Worship. For instance, he authorized Augustine of Canterbury as well as his fellow missionaries to help in converting Heathen English to Christianity in the 597 among other notable activities. After his death, Gregory the Great was given the honour of being a patron of saints of singer, teachers, musicians and students, due to his effort to change the lives of humankind. As a result of his work, several scholars have tried to document the work carried out Pope Gregory during his life. This paper candidly reviews the book titled “Gregory the Great and His World” written by R. A. Markus.

Book Review

Robert Markus accessible and new work is a full study of the Gregory the Great, since Dudden, F. H. in 1905, carried out similar studies. The book clearly indicates the life, work, spirituality and thoughts of Gregory the Great. With his vast command of work carried out by Gregory, Markus clearly portrays the day-to day challenges of one of largely attractive characters at that time. Gregory’s culture can be described in the perspective of previous patristic and late roman educational background. In the book, Markus seeks to comprehensively understand Gregory the Great as one of cultivated Roman aristocrat who was converted to ascetic ideals, caught in tension between the attraction to monastic vocation as well as his Episcopal Ministries (Markus 26). It is worth to note that, all this was happened  during the time when catastrophic changes was taking place in Roman world, such as fall of Empires among others. The book largely deals with all aspects of pontificate like being the bishop of Rome, as a proprietor of roman Church lands and his relations to Empires. Other notable pontificate activities include his relationships to western Germanic Kingdoms like Gaul, Spain and to the English.

From the book, one can see that can see the vast contribution of Gregory the Great to the current understanding of the late antiquity. This is due to richness and scholarship of great ideas depicted by Gregory the great during his life.  The book offers a full description of his spirituality and thoughts and provides a vivid picture of those antiques societies. It is also indictable that, this book coheres as fundamental research work, because Gregory the Great has been written in a sympathetic and engaging style. From this book written by Robert Markus, readers can clearly understand the numerous amounts work out by Gregory the Great during his life, thus opening more chances for research. For other readers, the book takes its place at the beginning of plentiful literature on Gregory as well as serves for many decades as one of most instructive points of entry aimed at recognizing Gregory the Great and his pontificate.

By reading the book, one can appreciates the great work done by Markus for clarifying the disputes faced by Gregory with the Donatists during the sixth century. Markus unwinds the interweaved web of Schism of three chapters with careful attentions to political vulnerabilities and ambitions. This is among  other various players that were involved Scholars of church’s history as well as those of Middle ages greatly welcome the book  due to its clarification of complicated roles played by Gregory the Great. The book offers significant contributions, which advances the understanding of scholars to the life and work of Gregory the Great and his time. Markus clearly writes, with a lot of clarity, freshness and precision that makes his works one most delighting work to read. Generally, this is a scholarly work and most of discussions and sources that are found in this book are of great interests to specialists, although other general readers can benefit from careful reading of the personality and the period of decisiveness targeting the subsequent history of Christians (Markus 78).

Applying a Lesson from History to the Church Today

From the book, one can clearly see the fact that the book, Gregory the Great and His World, seeks to apply various lessons from history to contemporary churches operating in different part of the world today.  For instance, many pastors have been found to posses two different lifestyles just as those that Gregory the Great had. For instance, the active life owned by Gregory had resulted to heavy claims, long before he had become a pope. The main thrust of the discussion was the need of accepting inescapable distractions from the contemplation in carrying out duties laid before him (Markus 12). In many cases, Gregory spoke as if the two separate forms of life were successive stages on way to perfection. For example, he indicates that those who strive to attain the heights of perfections through holding the citadel of the contemplation ought to initially prove themselves into actions in the fields of battle. However, even after contemplation is attained, it always remains  highly threatened  not only by weaknesses associated to human kinds, but by distraction of businesses and by subtler dangers that are brought about by urge of carrying out good works. Gregory indicated that the work of pastors demands one to surrender to the contemplative quite. Through contemplation, pastors can rise to God’s love and by preaching one returns to services of the neighbours.

Generally, the notion of this two lives leads into successive successions, the second one being on higher rung of ladder s compared to the first one. This indicates that pastors and Christians who returns from contemplative life to participation in active, despite its meritorious gives rise to regression to lower stages in Christianity. The other aspect that can be learnt is the fact that the church is society of love. Gregory indicated that in any building “stones bears because stones are placed on other stones; and that which supports another [stone] is itself supported by another [stone] (Markus 29). Gregory also reminds Christians that, our Creator arranges all things in such away that anyone who becomes exalted by the gifts God has given them, is always humbled by virtues they lacks.

Strengths and Limitations of the Book

This book has numerous notable strengths and limitations. One of the strengths indicated by the book Gregory the Great and His World is its ability to integrate tensions of Gregory’s life, as represented by the two halves of the book, and fusing them in one entity in this world. The book is easily accessible to non-specialists and it is a piece of a carefully argued scholarly work. This makes the book to be a standard form of a monograph to Gregory the Great for many years to come. The book also sums up as well as extends remarkable body of the work that Markus have carried out on Gregory. One of the limitations faced by the book is the inability to effectively link the late antique societies with the modern Christians societies (Markus 11). Further, Markus understanding of the Gregory the Great as influenced by the Roman aristocrat and converted to ascetic ideas was not well brought out in this book, hence necessitates more future research (Markus 198).

Lessons from the book

There are many lessons that Christians can learn from this book written by Roberts Marcus. By the studying the book I have learnt on the great role-played by pastors, in enhancing the continuity of church across the globe. For instance, despite his other schedules, Gregory the great was responsible for the spread of church in place like Italy, to the English, Gaul among other notable places. Based on this, my Ministry should set aside more resources in sending more missionaries to spread the word of God across the globe. This way, we will fulfil the mandates set by God our Creator. Secondly, I will remind all the people in our ministry on the need to be humble, regardless of your wealth or any other thing that God has given unto them. For instances, in the book, it is indicated that, despite of the extent one is exalted as a result of what they have, they will always humbled by the virtues which they lack.


From the above book review, one can see the large extent of work played by Gregory the Great in shaping the contemporary Christianity. Through his teachings, Christians have been able enhance the element of love, especially during this time when different areas across the globe seems to be separated across political, economical, cultural and social lines. In conclusion, more research work should be carried out to enhance a healthy understanding of linkages that exists between traditional and contemporary Christian activities. 

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