In this new and illuminating interpretation of Ambrose, bishop of Milan from 374 to 397, Neil McLynn thoroughly sifts the evidence surrounding this very difficult personality. The result is a richly detailed interpretation of Ambrose's actions and writings that penetrates the bishop's painstaking presentation of self. McLynn succeeds in revealing Ambrose's manipulation of events without making him too Machiavellian. Having synthesized the vast complex of scholarship available on the late fourth century, McLynn also presents an impressive study of the politics and history of the Christian church and the Roman Empire in that period.
Admirably and logically organized, the book traces the chronology of Ambrose's public activity and reconstructs important events in the fourth century. McLynn's zesty, lucid prose gives the reader a clear understanding of the complexities of Ambrose's life and career and of late Roman government.
Neil McLynn is University Lecturer and Fellow in Later Roman History at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University.
"This is an important book, for it deals with Ambrose's public career very thoroughly . . . something we have long been waiting for . . . a hard-headed account, keeping well clear of either hagiography or denigration, presenting many of the central episodes of Ambrose's career in an entirely new light."—Robert Markus
"Ambrose of Milan has long needed the modern biography which Neil McLynn has now written. Here is a learned and thorough work, absorbingly readable, bringing Ambrose vividly to life."—Sir Henry Chadwick, Oxford University
"McLynn has something fresh and (usually) revisionist to say about every familiar episode in this period, and he succeeds in exposing a very different Ambrose—a sweat-soaked saint who knew how to struggle and improvise."—Hal Drake, University of California, Santa Barbara
"McLynn possesses an impressive control of the general history of the period, as well as a detailed knowledge of specific events in which Ambrose was a participant, or even the 'impresario.' He gives us a critical and nuanced book about this important bishop, which will change how we read and think about Ambrose."—Carole Straw, Mount Holyoke College