We all know the story of Jesus' life, his death, his resurrection, and the persecution of his early followers. Less well known is the struggle the early Christians had in deciding whether Jesus was God Himself or the holiest of men, adopted by God and raised to divine rank. This controversy was at the heart of the most fateful conflict in Christendom until the Reformation. It was characterized by fervent debate, riots, a series of ecumenical councils, and civil strife. The key players weretwo priests, Arius and Athanasius, brothers in Christ, ideological opponents, and mortal enemies. Arius, a firebrand bishop, intelligent and eloquent, preached that Jesus was less than God. Athanasius, a brilliant and violent deacon, ardently opposed Arius's subversive preaching. Between them stood Alexander, the powerful bishop of Alexandria, the man on whose shoulders lay the need for a speedy resolution, which was essential both to keeping the empire united and to the continuation of the Church. Richard Rubenstein presents a vibrant portrait of the thriving Roman Empire in the centuries after the birth of Jesus Christ, as he brings to life the ideas of the most influential leaders and shows us a major religion at the crossroads of its faith.