I have just noticed The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman. The thesis is that after Constantine declared Christianity the state religion in 312, the church successfully quashed any challenges to its religious and political authority, in particular any challenges arising from the tradition of Greek rationalism and (in effect) held up human development for a thousand years until the Renaissance.
The difficulty with any such view is that it must face up to the 'problem of Aristotle'. If there really was a 'spirit of Greek rationalism', why did Greek science and philosophy apparently not advance much beyond Aristotle, writing in the fourth century BC, and Constantine in 312 (that's about 700 years)? And if Christian dogma was really that stifling, how was it that Western science developed from the rediscovery of Aristotle's work at the end of the 12th century to the scientific revolution in the 17th century (that's about 500 years)?
It is particularly difficult to explain given that (as I noted here, and as everyone knows) Aristotelian science is so spectularly wrong. Nearly all his scientific views are false, indeed spectacularly and obviously false, and in a way that the simplest experiment would confirm. How did the Greeks did not notice this? As Hannam notes (God's Philosophers chapter 11), simple observation of the trajectory of an arrow or of a ball thrown through the air, noted by Albert of Saxony as early as the 14th century, would have refuted a considerable part of Aristotle's physics.
Why and how was it that the medieval West eventually progressed well beyond Aristotle's science, when Greek culture did not? Constantine's state religion seems completely irrelevant.