Cambridge History of Christianity: Enlightenment, Reawakening and Revolution 1660-1815 edited by Stewart J. Brown, Timothy Tackett (Cambridge University Press) During the tumultuous period of world history from 1660 to 1815, three complex movements combined to bring a fundamental cultural reorientation to Europe and North America, and ultimately to the wider world. The Enlightenment transformed views of nature and of the human capacity to master nature. The religious reawakenings brought a revival of heart-felt, experiential Christianity. Finally revolution, the political and social upheavals of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, challenged established ideas of divine-right monarchies and divinely ordained social hierarchies, and promoted more democratic government, notions of human rights and religious toleration. A new religious climate emerged, in which people were more likely to look to their own feelings and experiences for the basis of their faith. During this same period, Christianity spread widely around the world as a result of colonialism and missions, and responded in diverse ways to its encounters with other cultures and religious traditions.
This series of manages a concise topical survey of the major currents within
Christian thought and history. The enlightenment through the
period of the revolutions represents a consolidation of the age of exploration
that instituted global colonialism upon which Christian mission road of the
coattails. Christianity began to develop a variety of extreme
responses to modernity. The divorcing of a mystical
realization from sectarian pietism led to the basis of what would eventually
become evangelical fundamentalisms, while at the same time Christian doctrine
attempted to reinvent itself within the shifting discoveries of science and
preindustrialization. Lacking a great middle ground that was last achieved in
the high Middle Ages with the synthetic success of Thomas Aquinas, Christian
thought became more variant and even at odds with itself as it set down the
seeds and roots of a true global religion, Europe still set the tone for the
religion until the end of the middle 20th century. These essays are for the most
part sober synthesis of the main trends and Christian development during this
tumultuous time. As all historians will certainly feel more
detail and antidote would be appreciated but that would exceed the bounds of a
reasonably hefty volume already. What this volume does achieve is a once over
lightly of the principal trends and Christian institutional and dogmatic
development during this period. As a work of reference it
will orient any one to the major trend of the time.
Excerpt: Every historical age is an age of transition. But it is clear that from the mid-seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century–the period covered in the present volume – the Christian world would confront a series of exceptionally difficult transformations and challenges. By the end of this period, forces of intellectual and political opposition had arisen that put into question not only the nature of Christian doctrine and the authority of the church – as in the age of the Protestant Reformation – but also the authenticity of the Christian religion itself. Yet the same period also gave birth to a number of movements for religious revitalization and renewal, remarkable for their energy and impact, movements that would arouse major controversies within the established churches. The great wave of revolutions that marked the end of the period would serve to intensify the currents of both religious confrontation and religious renewal.
Here the editors will briefly underline some of the major motifs which emerge from this collective study. After a rapid survey of the geography of Christendom during the early modern period, we will touch on each of the three central themes that serve as the conceptual troika for this volume –Enlightenment, Reawakening, and Revolution. We will argue that those themes did not exist as independent and separate historical strands, but were inextricably interwoven, reacting and interacting with one another throughout the age.
The geography of early modern Christendom
Towards the middle of the seventeenth century, Europe was just emerging from a long series of brutal inter-Christian wars of religion. The basic confessional geography that crystallized by the end of the Thirty Years' War and the civil wars fought in the British Isles persisted with only minor modifications into the twentieth century. The Roman Catholic faith was now overwhelmingly dominant across much of southern Europe and the western Mediterranean – including Portugal, Spain, France, and the Italian peninsula–but also in most of Ireland, the Austrian Lowlands, Bavaria, Poland, and Lithuania. The various Protestant denominations, for their part, were deeply entrenched throughout north and north-central Europe, from Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the 'Lutheran sea' of the Baltic – including most of the north German states, Prussia, Scandinavia, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia. Somewhat further south, strong Protestant bridgeheads were also to be found in Silesia, south-west Germany and across the Swiss plateau.
Almost everywhere, of course, there were dissident minorities, clinging to existence within seas of state-supported orthodoxies. But the confessional jumble was particularly complex in a central band of territories extending from the United Provinces in the west, across south-central Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, and Transylvania. Here intricate juxtapositions and intermixtures of Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, various Protestant minorities, and Jews, jostled each other in a kind of continuing religious cold war. Further east and south the Catholic and Protestant populations blended into the sphere of the Eastern Orthodox churches, largely dominant in the Russian Empire and the Balkans. But the latter also contained a sizable Muslim minority of Europeans converted during the long occupation by the Ottoman Turks. This was in fact the one area of major religious warfare in Europe after 1648, with Christians and Turks locked in a struggle that continued intermittently to the end of the eighteenth century.
Although Europe remained the heartland of Christendom, home to by far the largest concentration of Christians, the previous period had also seen an unprecedented expansion of Europeans across much of the planet. By the middle of the seventeenth century, Christian missionaries and settlers – sometimes following in the train of warriors and explorers, sometimes advancing on their own – had made contact with all of the major world civilizations.
Throughout large areas of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, Spanish and Portuguese mendicants and Jesuits had permanently converted the indigenous populations to the faith. Christianity had also touched wide areas of North America above the Gulf of Mexico. But here in the mid-seventeenth century European settlements were still relatively sparse, tenaciously clinging to coastlines and river valleys. Compared to the efforts of the Spanish and Portuguese, the Europeans in these areas had been far less successful in converting native peoples.
Much the same could be said for the great expanses of Sub-Saharan Africa. For the most part the European presence consisted of coastal trading stations and a small Dutch colony only just established at the Cape of Good Hope. Yet in two zones – the coasts of Congo and Angola and the lower Zambezi and coastal Mozambique – regulars from Portugal and other nations had succeeded in establishing tenuous Christian communities that survived into the nineteenth century.
In Asia, the small Portuguese province of Goa on the west coast of the Indian subcontinent served as a bridgehead for significant missionary activities throughout south India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), with a few intrepid Jesuits and Capuchins pushing north to the heart of the Mughal Empire and beyond into Nepal and Tibet. Further east, the situation appeared even more hopeful for the Christian mission. The Spanish had won spectacular success in the Philippines, permanently converting much of the population within three generations. The Portuguese and the regulars of several other nations had also achieved substantial numbers of baptisms in China, Indochina, Indonesia, and Japan – although much of the progress achieved in the latter region was beginning to crumble by 165o as the Tokugawa Shogunate launched a broad movement of Christian persecution.
The late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were to witness a continuing expansion of Christianity in certain areas of the world. Spain and Portugal pursued their conversions in the Americas, moving into the Californias and parts of Amazonia and Patagonia. In British and French North America, conversions remained relatively limited, although the period saw a huge influx of permanent European settlers, professing a wide variety of Christian denominations and sects. The eighteenth century also marked the advent of the first systematic Protestant missions activity, especially under the influence of the Pietists, who sponsored missionary efforts in North America, Africa, and India. But perhaps the most spectacular new conversions occurred among black African slaves on plantations across the Americas and the Caribbean. Free blacks from the nascent United States would themselves play an important role in proselytizing certain regions of West Africa.
Elsewhere, however, Christian missions experienced major disappointments and setbacks. In the eighteenth century, state-sponsored attacks on the Christian clergy and laity spread from Japan to China, Indochina, Siam, and Korea. Moreover, by the second half of the eighteenth century almost all areas of the world saw a sharp decline in the numbers of missionaries and a general flagging of energy. In part, it was a question of non-western nations coming increasingly to identify Christianity with European political and cultural imperialism. But in part the decline was also related to developments occurring within Europe itself: to the increasing rivalries for empire between European nations; to the pope's rejection of Jesuit efforts to adapt Christian rites to non-European cultures; to the broad attacks on the regular clergy by several European regimes, culminating in the suppression of the Society of Jesus; and to a sharp decrease in recruitment among both regular and secular clergies.
Many of these developments occurring within Europe can be linked to an array of intellectual trends emerging near the end of the seventeenth century and commonly described as 'the Enlightenment'. This sweeping intellectual movement had varied roots. It was in one sense a reaction to the religious
warfare that had so devastated Europe up through the mid-seventeenth century and to the politics of intolerance by both Protestant and Catholic states that threatened to revive such warfare: for example, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France in 1685, or the expulsion of the Protestants from Salzburg in 173o, or the anti-Catholic penal laws in eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland. Surely, some began arguing, it was time to envisage forms of social organization that did not require efforts to impose religious uniformity. The new intellectual trends were also influenced by the growing European exposure to other world religions and cultures through the developing networks of global trade and communication. This exposure promoted among some European thinkers an intense interest in studying other religions – thus, for instance, the so-called British 'Orientalists' in India, who helped to gather and publish the ancient texts of Hinduism. Such studies would lead some European thinkers to a new sense of cultural relativism and a belief that religious systems, even Christianity, were largely human constructs. Perhaps most important, however, was the rise of science, which promoted an alternative means, apart from religious authority, for understanding nature and humanity. Careful observation, mathematical analysis, and logical calculation – the power of reason – would, it was believed, reveal the laws which governed the natural and the social worlds. The experimental method, with experiments that could be repeated by people everywhere, demonstrated sound truths which all rational men and women could accept. Science would show the way to practical improvements in material life, and also to new forms of social organization, based on the natural laws of society and the natural rights of man.
The early proponents of the 'Scientific Revolution' were convinced that its teachings provided more potent proofs of the existence of the Christian God and might even help restore the unity of Christendom. The revelations of science, they believed, confirmed the revelations of Scripture, while at the same time ensuring a more rational grounding for the Christian religion, based on the universal laws of nature. This in turn would diminish confessional divisions and strife. The laws of nature and the ethical precepts of Scripture, they insisted, came from the same source – that is, a benevolent God, the creator of a harmonious universe, who intended humankind to live together in charity and mutual respect. Most of those who embraced the ideals of the Enlightenment remained within the Christian tradition, viewing human reason and natural laws as aspects of God's created order, and seeking to bring a more moderate and ethical spirit to Christianity. An example of this Christian moderatism was William Robertson, Presbyterian clergyman, celebrated historian, Principal of the University of Edinburgh from 1762 to 1793, and acknowledged
leader of the Church of Scotland, who endeavoured to move that churcl away from the fierce Calvinism of the seventeenth century towards a rationa Christianity emphasizing practical morality and toleration. Such tendencies also had a powerful influence on a generation of European monarchs, while used Enlightened precepts as justifications for exercising an increased control over the churches within their domains. 'Enlightened despots', among their Frederick II of Prussia, Charles III of Spain, and above all Joseph II of Austria issued sweeping edicts ranging from the imposition of toleration to the reorganization of churches and even the seizure of some ecclesiastical lands one the suppression of certain clerical orders.
While most proponents of the Enlightenment remained within a broadly defined Christian orthodoxy, many were drawn away from a strict dependence upon scriptural revelation to embrace a natural religion, which viewed reason as a sufficient guide to truth. What was the need for scriptural revelation, they asked, if reason and the natural laws revealed the mind of the Creator: Such a path led some to deism, or the belief in a first cause, a divine Creator, who had instilled in humans an innate knowledge of his attributes and the fundamentals of the ethical life. For deists, like John Toland or Voltaire, this innate human knowledge of the godhead lay at the foundation of all the great world religions, and Enlightened men and women could now strip away the accretions and corruptions of the centuries, and embrace the essential truths of God's existence and his moral imperatives. Other Enlightened thinkers, however, went beyond deism to a radical scepticism about the existence of God or of any divinely ordained morality. Such thinkers, to be sure, were a minority, but they included such influential figures as Denis Diderot, the baron d'Holbach and possibly David Hume. In its more extreme expressions the later Enlightenment could be conceived as fundamentally opposed to Christianity and as a precursor of a purely secular world-order.
The late seventeenth century also witnessed the emergence of movements of Christian renewal and reawakening within both the Protestant and Catholic churches. The Protestant reawakening first emerged among certain displaced and dispossessed Protestant communities in central Europe following the devastation of the Thirty Years' War. Some Protestant groups had felt alienated from the religious settlement imposed within their state by the Peace of Westphalia; they found no spiritual home within the church as it was established under the civil law and they felt vulnerable to persecution. In response, they developed their own forms of religious expression outside the established order in church and state, emphasizing personal conversion, regular Bible study, the formation of conventicles for prayer and devotion, a strict methodical manner of living, and the practice of charity. Some believed that the millennium was imminent, and they lived in the fervent expectation of Christ's return. These Protestant groups became known as Pietists, and their movement spread, assisted by the printing press, networks of correspondence, the migration of Europeans to the New World, and the missionary zeal of one of their groups, the small colony of Protestant Bohemian refugees that had settled on the Saxon estate of Count Zinzendorf and whose members became known as the Moravian brethren. The Protestant awakening reached Britain, initially Wales, in the 1730s, finding support among labouring men and women who were largely outside the established churches. The emotional itinerant preaching ofJohn Wesley and George Whitefield attracted vast crowds, often in great outdoor meetings, while Wesley organized his converts on the model of continental Pietists into Methodist class meetings. At about the same time, a series of revivals swept through the British colonies in North America, transforming and renewing the religious life in what became known as the Great Awakening.
It was not only the Protestant churches that were affected by a heart-felt and experiential faith. Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, the Roman Catholic Church in France also experienced a movement of spiritual renewal known as Jansenism that had some similarities to the Protestant awakenings. Jansenism emerged largely as a reaction against the triumphalist 'Baroque' orthodoxy of the Catholic Reformation – especially as promoted by the Society of Jesus. Profoundly influenced by the writings of St. Augustine, Jansenists sought to revive an emphasis on predestination and individual conversion through the grace of God, and to cultivate an emotional devotional life. They formed communities of the faithful, practised a rigorous morality, elevated the role of the laity, and engaged in acts of charity. Some strands of Jansenism, especially the more popular `Convulsionaries' of the early eighteenth century, believed in miraculous healings and felt moved by the Holy Spirit to prophesize. When the Catholic establishment and the Bourbon kings sought to repress the movement, Jansenists became increasingly politicized, intensifying both their anticlerical rhetoric and their opposition to the absolute monarchy. In the course of the eighteenth century, despite the condemnation of some aspects of Jansenism by the papacy, the movement spread among Catholics in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and the north of Italy.
The Christian awakenings were not initially opposed to the contemporary movements of scientific investigation and the Enlightenment, and indeed many of those embracing the new religious zeal also shared in the fervent hopes of social improvement raised by science and reason. The Pietists were strong advocates of both popular and higher education, and the Pietist-dominated University of Halle promoted the study of science, especially the practical applications of scientific learning, and of world cultures. In Britain, John Wesley was a keen student of science and philosophy, and wrote learned treatises on epistemology. The Jansenists included among their number Blaise Pascal, a leading French scientist, who grounded both his scientific and his religious knowledge upon his personal experience. Those influenced by the Enlightenment and those influenced by the Awakening could unite in criticizing the established order in church and state, and in promoting programmes aimed at the extension of education. Protestant Dissenters and philosophers joined forces, moreover, in the first concerted attacks upon the slave trade and the slavery of black Africans. Nonetheless, evangelical Christians strenuously opposed the deism and scepticism that became prevalent in the later Enlightenment, and they grew to abhor the tendency of Enlightened philosophers to promote a moderate, rational, and ethical Christianity, which downplayed the doctrines of human sinfulness, eternal damnation, and Christ's atonement on the cross. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, this distrust had evolved into fundamental opposition.
The wave of revolutions that swept across the Atlantic world in the later eighteenth century originated in developments that are largely outside the concern of this volume. In their long-term development, the revolutions can be linked to geopolitical competition for empire and the profits of maritime trade, especially the struggle between Great Britain and France. In the aftermath of Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War, the English-speaking colonies in North America violently resisted efforts by the British parliament to impose greater fiscal and political control over its expanded land empire, and this resistance led between 1775 and 1783 to a declaration of independence, a prolonged war, and the formation of a new republic. The French Revolution began in 1789 as a direct result of the monarchy's efforts to stave off fiscal collapse resulting from a century of imperial conflict, including France's military intervention in the American war. This is not to say, however, that the Enlightenment and Christian Awakenings did not play significant roles in the revolutions. Many
Enlightened philosophers directed a relentless assault on political institutions that were seen as not reflecting the natural laws and 'inalienable rights' of man, as endowed by the Creator and revealed through reason. Such 'corrupt' political institutions included a distant British monarchy and an imperial parliament imposing taxation on its colonies without due representation, or a divine-right French monarchy granting fiscal privileges to certain social orders or corporate bodies. Moreover, the Great Awakening of the 173os and 174os had played an important role in shaping an American identity and a sense of shared destiny under Providence. In France, the Jansenist criticisms of church and state throughout the eighteenth century contributed to the formation of a revolutionary discourse.
Once the revolutions began, they divided Christians. For some Christians, revolution was a rebellion against the divinely ordained order, a revolt, born of sin, against the 'powers that be', the worldly authority provided by God. For others, however, revolution was part of the providential plan for humankind, a movement that promised to strip away corruption and restore both church and state to purer forms; it would end clerical privilege, extend religious toleration, and elevate human aspirations. Many of these Christian supporters welcomed the way in which both the American and French revolutions aroused powerful support to the anti-slavery movement.
While the American Revolution did inspire, in the name of freedom, attacks upon the principle of established churches, it did not bring a break with Christianity. In France, however, the revolution ultimately went much further. After an initial period of support for a reformed Catholic Church within a regime of religious toleration – reforms that led, however, to a schism with Rome –the most radical French revolutionaries turned in 1793 against Christianity itself, portraying it as the ideological prop of the old order and a rallying centre for reaction, which would have to be swept away. To be sure, even the most radical de-Christianizers commonly maintained an attachment to the ethical teachings of Jesus, sometimes portrayed as a 'sans-culottes revolutionary'. Yet at the height of the 'Reign of Terror' they pursued their attacks on all clergy –Catholic and Protestant – and on the physical infrastructure of the church with brutal determination. While the de-Christianization campaign eased in the late 179os, the churches remained subject to varying degrees of harassment and persecution by revolutionary officials. As the revolutionary and Napoleonic armies advanced beyond the borders of France, moreover, they spread the revolution's anticlerical and even anti-Christian policies to many other parts of Europe. The religious policies of the French Revolution thus stand as a landmark in the history of Christianity.
The onslaught on Christianity also led to further movements of Christian reawakening in both Protestant and Catholic Europe. These included millenarian movements, as many grew convinced that the political convulsions presaged profound spiritual events, perhaps even the Second Coming of Christ. They also included popular Christian movements of resistance – in Italy, Spain, Russia, and Germany– to what was viewed as a 'godless' French Revolutionary and Napoleonic domination. Among many artists and intellectuals, moreover, there was a celebration of a religion of feeling and a yearning for a restored Christendom. In North America there was a related revival activity known as the Second Great Awakening. The Awakenings contributed to a renewed onslaught on the iniquities of slavery, and to an agreement among the great powers in 1815 to end the slave trade. They also inspired a major increase in Protestant overseas missions activity and a renewal in Catholic overseas missions, laying the foundations for the 'great missionary century' and the renewed spread of Christianity to the wider world.
The plan of the volume
As the reader will discover, the essays in this volume have been divided into five parts. Four chapters in the first part examine the problems of church, state, and society in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe. They are conceived to provide a broad overview of the political and social context of the Christian experience during the period. Part II then examines a variety of issues related to Christian life, primarily in Europe, prior to the French Revolution: from the nature and origins of the Catholic and Protestant clergies, to Christian education, sermons and oratory, religious architecture, Christianity and gender, and Christianity and the Jews. In Part III, particular emphasis is placed on the sources of change affecting the Christian world, including both the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment and the various movements of Protestant evangelicalism and Catholic Jansenism. A final chapter in this section explores the currents of toleration and Christian reunion that arose in the eighteenth century before the French Revolution. Part IV takes up the story of Christianity in the non-European world, exploring the advance of Christian settlers and missionaries in five major areas of the planet as well as the general problem of the relations of Christianity with the other major world religions. The final section of the book then picks up three central topics in the 'Age of Revolution': Christianity as it was involved in the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the movement of opposition to slavery. The ultimate chapter, on Christian reawakenings between 1790 and 1815, provides an overview of Christianity in Europe at the end of the period under consideration in this volume.No collective work of this kind can hope to be entirely inclusive. The reader will find very little here on the immense areas of Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania, where the first Christian settlers and missionaries were only just arriving at the end of our period. Our volume has also not included the various groups within the sphere of the Eastern Orthodox churches which were in communion with the pope in Rome – the so-called `Uniates' of eastern Europe, and the Maronites and certain elements of the Armenian and Coptic churches in the Middle East. Nor is there a treatment of the role of religion and the clergy in the early nineteenth-century movements of national independence in Iberian America. However, some of these topics will be taken up in the volume on Christianity in the nineteenth century.
The Cross Goes North: Processes of Conversion in Northern Europe, AD 300-1300 by Martin Carver (Boydell Press) (Hardcover) In Europe, the cross went north and east as the centuries unrolled: from the Dingle Peninsula to Estonia, and from the Alps to Lapland, ranging in time from Roman Britain and Gaul in the third and fourth centuries to the conversion of peoples in the Baltic area a thousand years later.
These episodes of conversion form the basic narrative here. History encourages the belief that the adoption of Christianity was somehow irresistible, but specialists show the underside of the process by turning the spotlight from the missionaries, who recorded their triumphs, to the converted, exploring their local situations and motives. What were the reactions of the northern peoples to the Christian message? Why would they wish to adopt it for the sake of its alliances? In what way did they adapt the Christian ethos and infrastructure to suit their own community? How did conversion affect the status of fanners, of smiths, of princes and of women? Was society wholly changed, or only in marginal matters of devotion and superstition?
These are the issues discussed here by thirty-eight experts from across northern Europe; some answers come from astute re-readings of the texts alone, but most are owed to a combination of history, art history and archaeology working together.
This book was born from a conference held in July 2000 to mark the beginning of the third Christian millennium, opened by David Hope, Archbishop of York. In accordance with the spirit and energy of early church councils, 55 papers were heard in five days and each evening our indefatigable delegates also attended a party and a public lecture on 'Heritage and the Holy Land today'.' It was an occasion of incomparable enrichment, which brought to light the art and culture of early people of every degree and condition and their preoccupation with fundamental questions about what life is for, and how it should be lived.
Given the venue, the City of York, and the interests of its Department of Archaeology, it is not surprising that in the event a majority of the papers focussed on the experience of northern Europe in the first millennium AD, and this has been the basis of their selection for publication. This book surveys episodes of conversion from the Dingle Peninsula to Estonia and from the Alps to Lapland, and ranges in time from Roman Britain and Gaul in the third and fourth centuries to the conversion of peoples in the Baltic area a thousand years later. In Europe, the cross went north, and also east, as the centuries unrolled and this basic narrative provides the structure of the book. We begin in the Celtic lands, proceed to England and then to the Rhineland and Scandinavia, ending in Estonia where the principal conversion initiative took place in the thirteenth century.
However, to read the conversion story as a narrative does no justice to the complexity of the process, as our authors show. History is written by those who have won power and represent what is orthodox, so the surviving documents
extol the achievements of individual missionaries, and emphasise their success. They can also encourage us to believe that the adoption of Christianity, with a hierarchy of bishops and a network of monasteries and churches was somehow irresistible. This perspective paints a picture in which some of the converted got the message early, some later; others did not wholly understand it and mixed it with previous beliefs, but all eventually entered the fold and became as one.
But, as the later history of Christianity shows, wherever the human mind is active diversity is endemic. In the conversion period it seems highly probable that the mood was experimental and that the adaptation of practice if not of doctrine was regularly exercised. Our authors show us the under-side of the process, more secret and more subtle, and ultimately more significant, by turning the spotlight from the missionaries onto the converted, and exploring their local situations and motives. What were the reactions of northern peoples to the Christian message? Why would they wish to adopt its structures and its strictures for the sake of its alliances? In what way did they adapt the Christian ethos and infrastructure to suit the social structure and natural environment of their own community? How did conversion effect the status of farmers, of smiths, of princes and of women? Was society wholly changed, or only in marginal matters of devotion and superstition?
These are the questions we address in this book, using the techniques of different disciplines and the experience of different parts of Europe. Some answers come from astute re-readings of the texts alone, but most are owed to a combination of history, art history and archaeology working together. Material culture, like texts, is way of expressing ideas, but unlike early texts, early material culture occurs in a hierarchy of investment from the casual to the monumental. Material culture makes use of allusion to earlier times and other peoples; it sometimes proclaims these earlier messages, sometimes imitates them, sometimes opposes them, sometimes conceals them. The interpretation of material culture is therefore no more straightforward than that of texts. However, even if it is not clear exactly what a burial or a standing stone stela might mean, we can be sure that it meant something, and that it is through material culture that the local, the unorthodox, the marginalised and the disempowered could find their voice. Our task is to interpret these signs of individual ideology, and our book is thus concerned less with the narrative of conversion than with its processes. Many of our chapters lift the blanket of 'Christianisation' to reveal an exciting, querulous world of independent thinking and dissent.
The two first papers set out the new agenda. Urbanczyk, speaking with an anthropological voice, tabulates the incentives and consequences of conversion, stressing the variety of prescriptions needed to match the improvements in social control that could be achieved when Christianisation had taken hold. Pluskowski and Patrick then comprehensively review the evidence for this variety, ranging across Europe and through the whole millennium that gives us our frame. The variety of documented thinking which was provoked in the target communities was formidable, and was not confined to a supposed inaugural period of confusion. It could even survive the establishment of the institutionalised religion itself, among the Christian Franks, for example, where 'pagan culture lived on in the habits and lifestyle of the Frankish monarchy and aristocracy'. These variations do not necessarily indicate deviant doctrines, or heresies; and heresy is not necessarily reflected in material culture.3 Provided orthodoxy is not successfully enforced, never an easy thing to do, it should be legitimate to regard local variations of practice as real variations in thinking and belief. Pluskowski and Patrick's paper gives increased confidence that it is local ideological experiments of this kind that are being signalled by the parade of diverse and intriguing archaeological cultures collected by our authors.In the other three parts of the book we travel through Europe, noting how texts, art and archaeology illuminate the political and philosophical debates that were taking place in public or private, in the hall or at the grave-side, in this most intellectually vivid of times. Three aspects of the research collected in this volume seem to point the way to new horizons and make it especially worthy of the reader's attention: the ideological variety that was possible within communities, the role of women in the management of ideology, before, during and after conversion, and the way that ideology and its infrastructure were expressed by the landscape itself. These new aspects of the conversion process are offered in the main by archaeological reasoning which, if it has no special claim to the truth, is no less entitled to an opinion. The diverse material culture that we shall see in burial, shrines, brooches and landscapes represents deliberate investment. It rarely falls into easily labelled orders, such as 'pagan', 'monastic', 'episcopal' or 'secular', but that does not mean that people meant nothing by it - only that it is often nothing that we immediately recognise.
History, Theology & Faith: Dissolving The Modern Problematic by Terrence W. Tilley (Orbis Books) Theologians have long tried to solve the problem of faith and history with little success. This book argues that the time has come to dissolve the problem"Both yield fictions; both seek to tell or reveal what is true."
After laying out the "problematic," Tilley analyzes current approaches to the relationship between history and theology and then shows how they affect faith. He argues that there is no single pattern of relation-ships between the two disciplines and that multiple patterns should be recognized. When accurately understood and properly used, historical investigations, so often construed as undermining faith, do no such thing; indeed, they can actually increase or strengthen faith.
Excerpt: This book has four goals. The first is to dissolve the modern problem of history in its "history and faith" or "history and theology" versions. The first three chapters of this book are devoted to delineating how the problem of history has been shaped in its modern formulations. Chapter one portrays the shape of the modern problem of history and some attempted resolutions. The modern problematic tended, at least in the Christian and Jewish context, to focus on scriptural texts. Chapter two shows that the literary forms and historic functions of the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible and the Qur'an give rise to different problems of history. The most important reflection on the problem of history was Van Harvey's book The Historian and the Believer, first published in 1966. I discuss this text at length in chapter three. In effect, Harvey fomented a revolution against the classic form of the problem. He argued against the abstract construal of the problem as a general or universal one of faith in tension with history or historical method. He argued for a new focus on the differing particular ways that historians and believers properly formed and warranted their beliefs. Harvey sought to turn theologians away from sterile debates about historical methods and to consider the ways in which historians war-ranted their judgments concerning historical claims and in which believers formed their beliefs. The key tensions were not between history and faith but between historians and believers.
Unfortunately, too few theologians recognized the importance of this intellectual achievement. Many continue to attempt to solve or resolve "the" problem as defined by Troeltsch and his followers as if Harvey had never written. Some reformulate the issues (Tracy 1981; Schillebeeckx 1979; Fiorenza 1984, 31-33) but do so without extensive consideration of what historians actually do. They also tend to be more concerned with the use of historical evidence and argument in the tradition rather than for the tradition, an issue addressed directly in chapter ten. Perhaps Harvey's challenges to business as usual and insights about the problem of history were lost in the glare of the "death of God" movement in the era in which he wrote. Perhaps the weaknesses in Harvey's sketch of a solution to the problem of the differing intellectual "moralities" of historians and believers overshadowed his accomplishments.
An implication of this book is that Harvey's transformation of the argument from the dualist classic problematic of "faith and history" to the dualist problematic of "historians and believers" was not radical enough. Nonetheless, some have learned much from Harvey's work, including the present writer. I read and reread The Historian and the Believer early in my career as graduate student and scholar, and returned to it and read it closely as I began work on the present book and after I had written articles (Tilley 1999; 2001), some of whose arguments have been adapted for use in the present text. I recognize and acknowledge how much his work has influenced my thinking, sometimes without my knowing itat least insofar as attempting to dissolve the "problem of history" goes.
Some of Harvey's later writings also helped me break down the dualistic or polar pattern of the earlier "problem of history" problematic and of Harvey's own dualistic contrast of the moralities of "the modern historian's principles of judgment and the Christian's will to believe" (Harvey 1968, front cover).
Chapters four and five argue that the modern problematic of faith and history can and should be dissolved. Chapter four unpacks the unwarranted assumptions that theologians have often made in discussing the relationship of history and theology. Chapter five argues that unpacking claims of Jewish theologian Richard Rubenstein and Christian theologian Marcus Borg shows that historical investigations, often thought to undermine faith, do not do so unless one makes additional philosophical claims not necessitated either by religious convictions or by the practices of historical investigation. The first five chapters are the argument leading to the first goal.
The second goal is to understand how history is related to religious traditions beyond the dualistic problematic. Chapters six and seven turn to specific theological issues beyond the modern problematic. Chapter six argues that there are specific religious principles that are immune to undermining by the evidence of history. These principles go far to give religious traditions their identity. The convictions that express those principles are not invulnerable, however, to historical evidence. Additionally, some persons may be in situations that render the convictions that shape their own faith incredible, in part due to the marshaling of historical evidence; that issue is explored more fully in chapter ten. Chapter seven shows the problems that arise when one neglects to distinguish between such identity-giving principles and the historically conditioned convictions that formulate them. A key component of this argument, then, is the distinction between enduring (but rather empty) principles in and of a religious tradition and the particular (and rather robust) articulations of them as operative convictions.
The third goal of the book is to attend to the actual practices of historians rather than to the theories of history distilled by philosophers. I have argued elsewhere (Tilley 1995, 5-13, 53-89) that philosophers' distillations of religious propositions from religious practice in a tradition can be misleading. Similarly, I find that theologians dealing with the problem of history rarely, if ever, look at what historians actually do; theologians tend to use philosophical accounts of history and historiography, rather than to examine the practices of history. Chapters eight and nine show the "history" side of the issue: historians' principles and practices are much more complex and controversial than many theologians seem to recognize. Chapter eight analyzes the extensive disputes over the status of historical claims in light of the collapse of the "noble dream" of historical objectivity in the twentieth century. The argument there shows, in general, that history qua history cannot easily function as an "authorizing" discourse; pace the approach of many theologians to the problem of history. Chapter nine analyzes a specific dispute over how to approach the issue of the "historical Jesus" to show that religious historians are not immune from the progressive loss of the "authorizing" function of historical investigations.
The final goal of the book is to show that the relationships between historical investigations, theological construction, and religious practice are ad hoc rather than systematic. The final two chapters analyze patterns that can be discerned in those relationships, though, since I claim the relationships are ad hoc, I cannot claim to have a complete account of those relationships. Chapter ten argues for a nuanced understanding of the relationship of history and theology. Chapter eleven shows how the problems of historyand theologians' attempts to work with those problemscan affect religious practice and belief. Both chapters presume a "practical" approach to the problem. As chapters eight and nine looked at the practices and responsibilities of historians, so chapters ten and eleven look at the practices and responsibilities of theologians and believers in light of the contemporary challenges (not the "modern problem") of historical investigations to theological construction and religious practice and belief. Underlying this work is the fundamental assumption that one's religious commitments have to do not merely with one's belief but with one's life and the practices which give that life structure and which give one's convictions their distinctive meaning (cf. Tilley 1995, 5-57, which argues against the construal, especially in philosophy of religion, of religion as constituted by "beliefs" or "propositions," and argues for an understanding of religion as a set of practices; also see Tilley 2000, 50-87). A final chapter rehearses the argument and claims that it was and is necessary to make this journey.
Both history and theology are quite different from what they were seen to be in the mid- to late twentieth century. Hence, it is time to dissolve the problem of history as we have construed it and to reconfigure our understanding of the relationships of historical investigations, theological constructions, and religious convictions. In sum, that is the task of this book.
Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason by
Charles Freeman (Knopf) A Postmodern Gibbon gives a
radical and powerful reappraisal of the impact of
When the Emperor Contstantine converted to Christianity in 368 AD, he changed the course of European history in ways that continue to have repercussions to the present day. Adopting those aspects of the religion that suited his purposes, he turned Rome on a course from the relatively open, tolerant and pluralistic civilization of the Hellenistic world, towards a culture that was based on the rule of fixed authority, whether that of the Bible, or the writings of Ptolemy in astronomy and of Galen and Hippocrates in medicine. Only a thousand years later, with the advent of the Renaissance and the emergence of modern science, did Europe begin to free itself from the effects of Constantine's decision, yet the effects of his establishment of Christianity as a state religion remain with us, in many respects, today. Brilliantly wide-ranging and ambitious, this is a major work of history.
The Templars and the Grail: Knights of the Quest
by Karen Ralls (Quest Books) Who
were the mysterious medieval Knights Templar? How can we separate fact from
fiction? How does their mythos and its meaning live on today?
The Knights Templar, monastic warriors of the Crusades, have long been
shrouded in mystery. They were believed to conduct mystical rights, guard the
Holy Grail, and possess the lost treasures of
Possession & Exorcism in the New Testament & Early Christianity by Eric Sorensen (Wissunt Zum Neuen Testament, 157: J C B Mohr Verlag) The present study argues for the adaptation of exorcism in early Christian mission to the cultural sensibilities of the non-Christian Greeks and Romans. The subject arises when noting that exorcism was an unconventional activity in Greco-Roman society during Christianity's early centuries. Despite this, by the middle of the third century of the Common Era, as we learn from a letter of Cornelius, Bishop of Rome, to Fabius, Bishop of Antioch, the church of Rome had "fifty-two exorcists, readers and doorkeepers" on its roster of 154 clergy. This letter raises the question of how a phenomenon held at the periphery of conventional healing activity not only survived in the early church, but apparently flourished to make the transition from superstition to institution in the Greco-Roman world. More
Philip Schaff: Christian Scholar and Ecumenical Prophet by George
Shriver (Mercer University Press)
Philip Schaff, commissioned by the American Society of Church History for
its centennial celebration, Shiver offers a warm personal account of the life
and career of Philip Schaff – a study that emphasizes the human side of this
great Christian scholar and ecumenist. Schaff was a teacher, a world traveler, a
historian, a biblical scholar, a Romantic, a Pietist, an advocate of academic
freedom and liturgical renewal, a devoted husband and father, a bridge between
European and American scholarship, an apologist for
Philip Schaff we see how Philip Schaff gave up a promising academic career
The Quest for the True Cross by Carsten Peter Thiede, Matthew D'Ancona (Palgrave) based on the video of the same name, this historical potboiler should give some amusement to those who like their history laced with the fantastic. The Cross is arguably the most recognizable symbol of Western civilization. But what are its historical origins and what happened to it after Christ's crucifixion? In a church outside Rome, a fragment of wood may hold the answer to these questions and could be fundamental to our understanding of Christianity. Focusing on a long-ignored fragment of the Titulus Crucis-the inscribed headboard from Christ's cross-the authors provide evidence that it may date from the time of Christ and was brought to Rome by Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, in AD 328. Their claim is a radical challenge to the modern view that all supposedly holy relics are fakes. Following in Helena's footsteps and drawing together the threads of history, archaeology, myth, religion, and science, this journey through the ancient world may transform your beliefs about early Christian faith.
Barbarian Philosophy: The Religious Revolution of Early Christianity by Guy G. Stroumsa (Mohr Siebeck) For a number of years, Stroumsa has sought to tackle from various angles the complex transformation of religion in the Roman Empire, from approximately the first to the fourth centuries, or, if one wishes, from the revolution of Paul to that of Constantine. To be sure, these two revolutions are quite different, but both deal with the nature and status of religion, and both define, or redefine, a new religion, of a new kind: Christianity. For the historian of religious phenomena, it makes sense to study them together. Quite consciously, then, Barbarian Philosophy opts for the longue duree. What this approach loses in detailed analysis of the specific differences between the different stages, situations, texts, and tendencies, it gains in contextual vision of the major transformations of society cult and religion. Stroumsa tends usually to give insightful and novel accounts of this period.
From the first to at least the fifth century, Early Christianity represents an extremely complex set of religious phenomena. In recent years, it has become common practice to speak, in the plural, of early Christianities, as a convenient way to emphasize this complexity. The sources are written in many different languages, and stem from various cultural and religious backgrounds. Their baffling richness, combined with various theoretical difficulties, concur in complicating the scholar's task. Rather than attempting a grand synthesis, Stroumsa prefers to tackle different but related problems, aspects of what he calls the religious revolution of early Christianity. In so doing, however, Stroumsa has constantly kept in mind his declared overall goal of understanding better a major transformation in the religious history of humankind and its mechanism. The student of ancient cultures and societies must attempt to decipher their internal logic, or grammar, to crack their code, as it were. If this can be done at all, it is through a process of trial and error Stroumsa has sought to approach early Christianity from as many different angles as possible. In a sense, this process may be compared to a kaleidoscope, where a different but somewhat similar structure obtains from the same materials, each time one turns the lenses.
In a world which valued most ancestral traditions, patrioi nornoi, the basic intuitions and assumptions of Christianity were novel to Jews and gentiles alike. The religious revolution that it launched was not limited to the birth of new theological concepts, such as the (single) Incarnation or Trinitarianism, previously unknown to both Jews and gentiles. Powerful as these religious ideas may be, their greatest impact lies in their anthropological or psychological implications. A different theology entails not only a new conception of the Divinity, but also a new anthropology, a fresh perception of the human person, of its components and of its unity. New theological ideas, moreover, also have the power to transform, sometimes in radical fashion, conceptions of society and attitudes to outsiders. Stroumsa’s approach throughout remains that of the historian of religious ideas. Rather than focusing on their social context, this inquiry attempts to locate and emphasize the paramount power of concepts, beliefs, and theologoumena.
There are four main parts to Barbarian Philosophy, which seek to understand (1) the radical nature of some of the early Christian beliefs and their dialectical transformations in the first centuries, (2) attitudes to the other and the growth of intolerance in late antiquity, (3) the birth and development of new anthropological conceptions, and (4) the extreme character of dualist trends, the role of which can be compared to "a revolution within the revolution."
Part 1, Radical religion, seeks to delineate the new and radical character of early Christianity, from its beginnings as religio illicita to the Constantinian revolution and the self‑transformation of Christianity into a state religion. The first chapters investigate various aspects of this radical character and of its evolution from the first to the fourth century, showing, much of the later tensions within Christianity are better understood in the light of two opposite tendencies, irenic and eristic, both found in the earliest stages of Christianity, indeed in the New Testament itself:
The dual structure of the new Scriptures of Christianity permitted the development of a series of religious equivalences and cultural translations, in ways previously unknown in Jewish or Hellenic culture, and thus permitted the dramatic hermeneutical revolution achieved by late antique Christian intellectuals. This revolution only began with the dialectical relationships between the two Testaments. A new paideia, perhaps the most decisive single step toward the formation of European culture, was developed in late antiquity, in which the Greek and Latin classics were studied together with the Christian Bible.
Before this new cultural synthesis was achieved, however, pagan and Christian intellectuals had been unable to understand that they held vastly different conceptions of religion. To hallowed traditions the Christians were opposing a new and highly dynamic form of piety, which encouraged rather than feared religious change. This profound cultural misunderstanding highlights the vastly different presuppositions about the individual and society held by pagans and Christians. The latter had soon come to perceive themselves as neither Jews nor gentiles, but as a third kind of people, a triton genos, or tertiurn genus. They were proud to offer a new, "barbarian" wisdom, foreign to the Hellenic world.
Part II, Living with the Other, attempts to isolate some of the more salient factors which brought about that most puzzling fact of early Christian history, namely, the transformation of the religion of love into an intolerant religion, unable to accept competing visions and patterns of behavior. Indeed, before the end of the fourth century, all forms of religious expression, except for Orthodox Christianity, had become prohibited. There is no denying the painful fact that after the victory of Christianity, late antique society is strikingly less open, less pluralistic, less tolerant (although the modern concept of tolerance might be rather inadequate for ancient societies).
The first aspect to be emphasized in this context is the paradox of internalization and the new emphasis on conviction as a major factor of religious identity. The world of the cities around the Mediterranean in which the Christians lived in the second and third centuries offered what has been called "a market place of religions." The new religious pluralism forced the Christians as well as the Jews to live in close daily contact with what was for them a variety of intolerable phenomena. Idolatry, the worst of all sins, was everywhere: statues of the idols adorned the streets; meat from pagan sacrifices was sold at the butcher shop; various forms of magic and divination were practiced. Far from fostering religious tolerance, this symbiosis encouraged the erection of strong inner boundaries.
Palestine offers a particularly interesting case in point. Tensions of various kinds were mounting between Jews, Christians, Samaritans, Manichaeans, Hellenized pagans, Arabs. In their daily religious life, however, these vastly different populations often behaved in similar ways, or even shared the same beliefs, unconsciously following the same syntax of religious behavior. One can indeed speak here of a religious koine of sorts.
One of the clearest examples of the radicalization of Christian attitudes toward non‑Christians in late antiquity is, of course, the development of anti‑Jewish attitudes on the part of the Church Fathers. While anti‑Judaism is inherent in Christianity from its very beginnings, one can discern a shift for the worse in late antique Christian discourse on Jews and Judaism, in a sense, a praeparatio antisernitica. The history of Christian discourse reveals the progressive demonization of the Jews, together with the transformation of religiosity in the fourth century.
Part III, Shaping the Person, seeks to follow the transformations of the concept of the person, and the new anthropological perceptions developed in early Christianity. These transformations represent a major chapter in the intellectual history of the West. In various ways, early Christian beliefs and theology propounded new conceptions of the self and attitudes to the human person quite unknown in antiquity.
A clear example of this transformation can be seen in the passage from repentance to penance. The ritualization of repentance encouraged the public expression of deeply intimate transformations of the self. Various rituals of public expiation of sins and penance developed in the first Christian centuries emphasize the passage from an ethic of shame to an ethic of guilt as Christianity grew: public humiliation is the best warrant of the Christian reversal of values.
The bodily as well as spiritual expressions of repentance and sorrow reflect the new attitudes to the body and the whole person. Augustine's Confessions is not only a book sui generis reflecting Augustine's great originality. It also represents the emergence of a new subject, the acme of a major process in the history of western consciousness, which would have momentous implications for the future. The work is the logical consequence of a series of beliefs and attitudes developed in the first centuries in Christian theological literature. It also reflects a new sensitivity among early Christian intellectuals, directly related to some fundamental Christian theologoumena. The idea of homo imago Dei, of the unity between body and soul, and of resurrection, were all quite simply unthinkable for pagan philosophers. With his great psychological sensitivity, Augustine was able to reach dramatic conclusions based on the Christian theological premises, but he was certainly not the first or only thinker to insist on a new Christian concept of the person.
In contradistinction to Hellenic thinkers, Christian intellectuals did not locate the great divide between soul and body, or between the higher firmaments and the sublunar world. Rather, they insisted on the rift between the created cosmos and the transcendent God. The passage between the divine and the created world, although it was never completely blocked, had now become much more difficult to traverse than ever before. In their successful bid to redefine the borders of the self, and to restructure religious experience, the Church Fathers limited the experience of dreaming, or rather, the experience of discussing dreams, in a drastic way. In the Christian imaginaire, most dreams no longer announce the future, but rather reflect the state of the soul. In a sense, then, the Freudian revolution can be said to have begun with the early Christian Entzauberung der Welt.
Part IV is devoted to Radical dualism. If Christianity effected a revolution in patterns of religiosity, Gnosticism and Manichaeism were even more radical movements. The importance of dualist trends in early Christian history can hardly be overemphasized. In a sense, Basilides, Marcion, Valentinus, and Mani were all following to their radical consequences some of the deeper intuitions and choices of the various writings of the New Testament itself. Second‑century Gnosis, however, cannot be said to have been on the margins of the Christian movement. To describe it as such is anachronistic, applying criteria of fourth century orthodoxy. Ernst Troeltsch showed that it was precisely the revolutionary character of the dualist tendency within early Christianity, which explained how it lost the battle for ultimate self‑definition of Christianity to the less radical trends. These had neutralized rather than emphasized some characteristics inherent in the earliest expressions of the new religion. The study of dualist trends (and Manichaeism is here as important as the various Gnostic schools) remains essential for any full understanding of the early Christian phenomenon. Encratism and antinomianism, for instance, are notoriously difficult to disentangle from one another. And we now know that the early monastic movement, with its demand of radical behavior, seems to have been dangerously close to various dualist theologies.
The Envoi deals with the tragic city in which Christianity was born two thousand years ago, and where this book was written. It offers a reflection on what the French call the imaginaire of Jerusalem in western Christian consciousness. Both the idea of a heavenly or mystical New Jerusalem, and the multiple translatio of the Anastasis, the Christian omphalos, reflect the radical transformation of geography and history, of memory and expectations, all effected by early Christianity: nothing less than a revolution in patterns of religious thought and behavior. Stroumsa’s essays provides an important synthetic understand of the basic themes and forces that Christianity birthed in its formative period.
Introduction to the History of Christianity edited by Tim Dowley (Fortress) Written by more than sixty specialists from ten countries, this volume tells the dramatic, intriguing, and often surprising story of Christianity’s 2000-year history. Its 25 chapters are illuminated by more than 400 photographs and 30 maps, charts, and diagrams. Enhanced with dozens of short special-feature articles, the tremendously informative and fair text presents the story of Christianity in a strong and engaging narrative, always with an eye to the telling detail and the deeper religious currents that have swept through generations of Christian history. The most popular one-volume illustrated reference book on the history of Christianity ever published is now available in a paperback edition.
Women and Christianity: The First Thousand Years by Mary T. Malone (Orbis) The history of Christianity reveals a great ambivalence towards women. On the one hand, women have been included, graced, called, inspired and canonized by Christianity throughout the centuries. On the other hand, women have not always felt appreciated within the Christian tradition and have indeed often been excluded and even oppressed.
Women & Christianity brings to light both the persistent courage and the innovative quality of women's lives. Dr. Malone's perspective not only offers a critical analysis of previous conventional histories, but emphasizes the importance of women's contributions to the creation of Western culture. Students and scholars of Christian history will find Women & Christianity a refreshing and valuable resource
Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire by Timothy D. Barnes (Harvard University Press) offers close look at the political religious powers struggles in the late antique Roman Empire. The life and writings of Athanasius‑-so central to the political struggles, theological controversies, and ecclesiastic developments of the fourth century‑-constitute an important chapter in the history of the early Christian church and the late Roman Empire. As the Bishop of Alexandria from 328 to 373, Athanasius came into conflict with no fewer than four Roman emperors‑Constantine, Constantius, Julian the Apostate, and the "Arian" Valens. In this illuminating reconstruction of Athanasius' career, Timothy D. Barnes analyzes the nature and extent of his power, especially as it intersected with the policies of these emperors. Focusing on the Bishop's long struggle with Constantius, who ruled the East from 337 to 361, Barnes reveals Athanasius' role in the struggles within Christianity, and in the relations between the Roman emperor and the Church at a critical juncture.
MAKING CHRISTIANS: Clement of Alexandria and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy by Denise Kimber Buell. ($39.50, hardcover, xiv, 221 pages; Princeton University Press, IBSN: 0691059802)
Buell offers an interpretation of Clement of Alexandria that at first sight seems trendy. In considering the question of how second-century Christians vied with each other in seeking to produce an authoritative discourse of Christian identity, she examines the use of the language of procreation and kinship. Following the lead of such scholars as Elaine Pagels, Buell questions the legitimacy of the distinction between orthodoxy and heresy, and so is able to look afresh at Clement. Even if one does not agree with the rejection of the distinction, one must admire Buell's close examination of the text without preconceived notions.
In examining the metaphors that Clement uses, metaphors of procreation and generation, Buell argues that Clement’s language, especially his use of paternal imagery, was a way to separate the true Christians from those who were heretical. In using kinship language, the Alexandrian Christians set off what is legitimate, i.e. those who were related to the true Father, from those whose paternity was in question. All Christians are children, but they are children who represent different levels of spiritual advancement.
In her close study of Clement's use of imagery, Buell shows that he uses natural imagery--procreation, lactation, paternity, maternity and sexual difference--to bolster his view of Christianity, and argue against competing views, particularly that of the Gnostics.
Buell is at her best when she examines the text closely, which she does in chapters nine and ten, which treat of the first three books of the Clement's Paidagogos. She treats at length Clement's four interpretations of 1 Corinthians 3:2 ("I gave you milk to drink, as infants in Christ, not solid food, for you were not yet capable of it, neither are you able to now.") This biblical passage, Buell argues, fits well with Clement's argument, because it speaks of infants (nepoi). It also fits into the currents of discourse among second-century Alexandrian Christians, where this and other Pauline passages which speak of the spiritual ones and the fleshly ones were used in the debate about baptism and salvation, and heterodoxy and orthodoxy. It also resonates with the baptismal imagery that Clement had already used. Finally, the image of milk gives Clement a multi-valent image for his argument, since blood was seen as the underlying essence of breast milk.
Buell tries to elucidate the use of natural imagery as a way for Clement to promote his version of Christianity as the right one. She argues that we must avoid being drawn in by his imagery into seeing the power-relationships of early Christianity as natural. By ignoring the traditional distinction between heterodox and orthodox, Buell is able to examine what the second-century writers shared in common. Her effort is to examine how early Christians saw themselves, what lay behind their arguments for legitimacy, and in so doing to re-examine the history of early Christianity in order to come to a possible reinterpretation of Christian origins. MAKING CHRISTIANS is certainly a challenging book that deserves attention, even if one ultimately rejects her conclusions.Contents:
Denise Kimber Bruell is Assistant Professor of Religion at Williams College
CHRISTENDOM AND ITS DISCONTENTS
Exclusion, Persecution, and Rebellion, 1000-1500
edited by Scott L. Waugh and Peter D. Diehl
Cambridge University Press
$59.95, hardcover, 376 pages, bibliographies, notes, index
From the eleventh century onward, Latin Christendom was torn by discontent and controversy. As the Church and secular rulers defined more clearly than ever before the laws and institutions on which they based their power, they demanded greater uniformity and obedience to their authority. Under increasing pressure to conform to the prevailing orthodoxy, minorities and dissenters struggled to define themselves and to survive. The resulting tensions led to outright challenges to the Church and to the repression of any group that could be branded as heretic or deviant.
The essays in this book cast new light on the dynamics of repression, highlighting the controversies and discontent that troubled medieval society. Looking especially at the mechanisms underlying the dissemination of heterodoxy and its repression, the religious aspirations of women, the fate of non-Christian minorities in Europe, and changing boundaries between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, the authors provide a new understanding of the Church's response to the diversity of belief and practice with which it was confronted.
This uncertainty and a corresponding hesitancy to apply repressive measures in some cases appear to have been as important attributes of medieval Christian culture as outright repression. They raise the underlying question of what determined medieval Christendom's response to minorities and outsiders, an issue touched upon in one form or another by all of the essays in this volume. Most accounts rely on the notion of "anxiety" to help explain Christian violence against outsiders or deviants, whether arising from a fear of pollution, from theological doubt, or the strain of abrupt social change. Anxiety has been cited, for example, as a product of economic expansion in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as well as economic contraction in the fourteenth. Assuredly, the use of the concept in two such radically different contexts does not invalidate either explanation. It does, however, suggest that the nature of anxiety and the psychic mechanisms by which it led to hate and oppression need further refinement. The essays presented here point out some possible lines of inquiry and hypotheses for further investigation.
Explanations based on anxiety raise the question of whether other cultures shared the same degree of apprehension, or whether Christendom was unique in the way it assuaged its internal doubts through outward aggression. For balance a comparison of Latin Christendom, Byzantium, Judaism, and Islam would be necessary to round out the exploration of Christendom's discontents. How these different cultures handled diversity and criticism and how they determined uniformity and conformity are crucial for understanding their peculiarities and commonalties. As these religions were forced to share the increasingly cramped quarters of the Mediterranean, they not only had to stake out their own religious and intellectual territories but they also borrowed from one another. A comparative analysis would help clarify the dynamics of faith, reason, and emotion which produced intolerance and repression.
The essays explore how religious faith shaped cultural and personal identity within Christendom by including or excluding certain individuals and groups. Moore for instance sets the stage in "Heresy, repression, and social change in the age of Gregorian reform" by seeking to account for the rise of heresy after the eleventh century. Material explanations, whether Marxist or Weberian, he argues, have been as unsuccessful as either conspiratorial theories of a unified heretical movement or cultural explanations based on changes in spirituality in explaining why heresy arose and why authorities reacted to it as strongly as they did. For Moore, the explanation lies in the changing relationship between dissenters and ecclesiastical authorities, who were refining their techniques of power to demand stricter obedience to their rule. This volume is part of an endeavor to illuminate the diversity of religious experience and the controversies it caused in Europe during the Middle Ages. The discontents of medieval Christendom were many and varied; the essays here expose the mechanics underlying that turmoil. Recommended for its general revision of religious dissent in the Middle Ages.
1. Heresy, repression, and social change in the age of Gregorian reform
By R. I. Moore
2. Overcoming reluctance to prosecute heresy in thirteenth-century Italy
By Peter D. Diehl
3. Social stress, social strain, and the inquisitors of Medieval Languedoc
By James Given
4. The schools and the Waldensians: a new work by Durand of Huesca
By Mary A. Rouse, Richard H. Rouse
5. The reception of Arnau de Vilanova's religious ideas
By Clifford R. Backman
6. "Springing cockel in our clene corn": Lollard preaching in England around 1400
By Anne Hudson
7. Repression or collaboration? The case of Elisabeth and Ekbert of Schonau
By Anne L. Clark
8. Prophetic patronage as repression: Lucia Brocadelli da Narni and Ercole d'Este
By E. Ann Matter
9. Scandala: controversies concerning clausura and women's religious
communities in late medieval Italy
By Katherine Gill
10. The conversion of Minorcan Jews (417-418): an experiment in history of historiography
By Carlo Ginzburg
11. The deteriorating image of the Jews - twelfth and thirteenth centuries
By Robert Chazan
12. Monarchs and minorities in the Christian western Mediterranean around
1300: Lucera and its analogues
By David Abulafia
13. Muslim Spain and Mediterranean slavery: the medieval slave trade as an aspect of Muslim-Christian relations
By Olivia Remie Constable
14. The tortures of the body of Christ
By Gavin I. Langmuir
15. The holy and the unholy: sainthood, witchcraft, and magic in late medieval Europe
By Richard Kieckhefer
16. Transgressing the limits set by the fathers: authority and impious exegesis in medieval thought
By Edward M. Peters
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