The Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 4, Christianity in Western Europe, c.1100-c.1500 edited by Miri Rubin and Walter Simons (Cambridge University Press) see review below
Cambridge History of Christianity. Volume 1: Origins to Constantine edited by Margaret M. Mitchell, Frances M. Young (Cambridge University Press) Over thirty essays provide a comprehensive overview of the essential events, persons, places and issues involved in the emergence of the Christian religion in the Mediterranean world over the first three centuries. The collection traces the dynamic history from the time of Jesus through to the rise of Imperial Christianity in the fourth century. It provides a thoughtful and well-documented analysis of the diverse forms of Christian community, identity and practice that arose soon after Jesus's death, and which through missionary efforts were soon implanted throughout the Roman Empire.
'The Cambridge History of Christianity is a most ambitious project ... The full collection is intended to blend sociological, demographic, cultural, and institutional historical perspectives with the developement of worship and liturgical traditions and theological developement. Given the goal of the series, [this book] is a major success. Professor Mitchell ... and Professor Young ... have successfully combined their vast talents to edit a compendium of essays rich in detail and true to the objective of avoiding revisionist history ... This volume is a must-read for all interested in the early church. It is written for an academic or professional audience and is a required addition to any well-equipped library. While each reader will find areas where more material would be of great interest, the extensive bibliographies (ninety-two pages) provide a wealth of supplemental resources.' History and Society of Religion 'This volume is a propitious opening to the eight which will follow ... This is an important, sophisticated and intelligently edited volume which should aid and abet the student of earliest Christianity for many a year to come. Higher praise could not be bestowed upon a handbook of this kind.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History 'The utility of the Cambridge History of Christianity: Origins to Constantine lies primarily in its comprehensive treatment of discrete aspects of the early church, covering a wide range of themes, issues, persons and events. Its insightful chapters are supplemented by useful illustrations, maps, detailed bibliographies and index. Origins to Constantine is a valuable resource for the lay-person and scholar alike. While the cost of the book will be prohibitive for some, libraries and scholars able to invest in this volume and the series will yield intellectual dividends for years to come.' Studies in Religion
Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 2, Constantine to c.600 edited by Augustine Casiday (Cambridge University Press) This volume in the Cambridge History of Christianity presents the 'Golden Age' of patristic Christianity. After episodes of persecution by the Roman government, Christianity emerged as a licit religion enjoying imperial patronage and eventually became the favoured religion of the empire. The articles in this volume discuss the rapid transformation of Christianity during late antiquity, giving specific consideration to artistic, social, literary, philosophical, political, inter-religious and cultural aspects. The volume moves away from simple dichotomies and reductive schematizations (e.g., 'heresy v. orthodoxy') toward an inclusive description of the diverse practices and theories that made up Christianity at this time. Whilst proportional attention is given to the emergence of the Great Church within the Roman Empire, other topics are treated as well - such as the development of Christian communities outside the empire.
Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 3, Early Medieval Christianities, c.600-c.1100 edited by Thomas F. X. Noble, Julia M. H. Smith (Cambridge University Press) The key focus of this book is the vitality and dynamism of all aspects of Christian experience from late antiquity to the First Crusade. By putting the institutional and doctrinal history firmly in the context of Christianity's many cultural manifestations and lived formations everywhere from Afghanistan to Iceland, this volume of The Cambridge History of Christianity emphasizes the ever-changing, varied expressions of Christianity at both local and world level. The insights of many disciplines, including gender studies, codicology, archaeology and anthropology, are deployed to offer fresh interpretations which challenge the conventional truths concerning this formative period. Addressing eastern, Byzantine and western Christianity, it explores encounters between Christians and others, notably Jews, Muslims, and pagans; the institutional life of the church including law, reform and monasticism; the pastoral and sacramental contexts of worship, belief and morality; and finally its cultural and theological meanings, including heresy, saints' cults and the afterlife.
Excerpt: Christianity arose, spread, and strengthened its claims on people's lives in the ancient world in the period covered by volumes i and 2 of the Cambridge History of Christianity. Volume 3 treats the history of Christianity during the centuries usually labeled "early medieval" that stretch from about 60o to about Iwo. This long, dynamic, and creative era saw both the consolidation of ancient Christianity's achievements and dramatic new developments.
One way to grasp the changes and continuities that marked the early medieval period is to read the first and last chapters in this volume. The opening one presents a panoramic view of Christianity in about 600 with occasional looks into the past and glimpses of the future. The closing chapter takes a similarly panoramic view in about too. In 600 Christianity was still fundamentally a Mediterranean phenomenon. Almost all its creative centers hugged the shores of the inland sea, as did its key administrative sites. The vast majority of all Christians then alive lived within two hundred miles of the sea. Christianity's most impressive territorial expansion beyond the Mediterranean basin lay in the east and in Africa. Western Europe was just then becoming visible as a potential site of growth and development. By Imo Christianity's creative core was located squarely in western Europe. The rapid and continuous expansion of Islam had diminished Christianity's presence in Mediterranean Europe and Africa, as well as in central and western Asia. Islam also constituted a persistent challenge for Byzantium and thus for Orthodox Christianity. Indeed, Byzantium's reach shortened not only in the eastern Mediterranean but also in the north where Avar, Bulgar, and Slav peoples and states challenged historic Byzantine claims. Christianity had meanwhile spread to every corner of Europe itself, with the exception of some areas lying along the eastern Baltic. If places such as Antioch and Alexandria had been the intellectual powerhouses of ancient Christianity, sites such as Winchester, Cologne, Paris, and Chartres were the dominant influences in the centuries on either side of the turn of the millennium.
In the dawning twenty-first century Christianity is very much a world religion, increasingly marginalized in Europe but vigorous on other continents. The early medieval centuries inaugurated a long period when Christianity seemed to be an essentially European phenomenon that in due course was exported, eventually in both Catholic and Protestant versions, to much of the rest of the globe. Today's congeries of Christianities artfully blend peoples, localities, languages, cultures, and historical experiences. That is what the Christianities of 60o also looked like, and it is still what they looked like in 1100, albeit the center of gravity had shifted to the north and west and the forces of homogeneity were becoming evident.
This volume is entitled Early Medieval Christianities. The use of the plural is not meant to deny that all Christians could trace their roots to the Mediterranean world of Antiquity, or that they took inspiration from versions of the same scriptures, or that they worshiped in tolerably similar ways, or that their churches shared many legal and institutional features. Instead, the plural signals the futility of speaking in overly generalized terms about an ever-changing religion that extended from Ireland to Afghanistan, from Norway to Nubia. Christianity transformed every people and culture with which it came into contact but it was itself transformed by peoples, cultures, antecedent histories, and even by landscapes. The plural, in short, denotes not chaos, confusion, or disunity, but richness, creativity, and complexity.
What is more, Christianity must be understood in a variety of complementary ways that, taken together, again urge the descriptive plural. Christianity is an ecclesial phenomenon everywhere, but it evolved very different kinds of churches and of ecclesiological conceptions to sustain and explain those churches. Christianity is also a body of teachings to which people grant varying assents of mind and heart and body. Those positions had to be defined, articulated, and transmitted. In Antiquity they were frequently the occasion of bitter strife. In the early Middle Ages there were fewer doctrinal quarrels, but there were also large bodies of Christians who did not believe all the same things and who had relatively little to do with each other. Christianity also attends the major moments of life from birth to death; it is lived experience as much as or more than a set of doctrinal formulations. Ancient Christianity was a fundamentally urban phenomenon. Cities were not a conspicuous feature of early medieval Europe. Curiously, however, Christianity retained structures, practices, and outlooks that were essentially urban even as it took root in what were essentially rural and agrarian societies. Adaptation and local particularity are equally evident in that respect. No matter what place, time, or topic engages our attention, we cannot usefully reduce Christianity to a singular phenomenon.
An awareness of these basic guiding principles will help the reader to grasp the arrangement of this volume and to see the connective tissue that holds the organizational skeleton together. The volume's first part constitutes a geographical and historical tour of the major, identifiable regions within which Christianity either extended its ancient achievements or else began anew. The first chapter in this part surveys the late Roman scene and the following ones explore the Byzantine world, the many forms of eastern Christianity, and then Christianity in Slavic, Germanic, and Celtic lands. The volume's next part addresses explicitly encounters between Christianity and Judaism; Christianity's confrontation with Islam, both along its expanding frontiers and within the caliphate; meetings between Greek and Latin Christians; and, finally, Christianity's lengthy engagement with Germanic and Slav paganism. These two sections emphasize the broader political, cultural, and religious milieux which helped to shape early medieval Christianities.
The next set of chapters deals with what might be broadly characterized as institutional issues: ecclesiastical organization, monasticism and asceticism, the making and implementing of law, property and material concerns, ideas of reform, and locations of cult. Unlike the chapters in the first two parts which tend to focus on specific regions or incidences of cultural contact, the chapters in part 3 range widely across all the Christianities included in this volume. They balance a high level of generalization with enough concrete examples and case studies to make key issues both clear and vivid.
The volume's fourth part takes up critical themes in the history and practice of Christianity as a lived experience with particular attention to the sacramental life of the church and its Christian communities. Its premise is that modes of worship, ritual, and prayer tell us a good deal about what people believed, or about what they were expected to believe. Rites that attended birth and death open the discussion. Penance, both the practice of penance and ideas of sin and redemption, follows the discussion of baptism and final anointing. There follows a treatment of sickness and healing that combines reflections on both medical and spiritual remedies. The ensuing chapter explores gender, sexuality, and the body. This chapter permits insights into how writers talked about the people, both lay and clerical, who actually were the Christians of the early medieval period. The part concludes with a two-fold discussion of worship: the theology behind the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy, everywhere the church's central act of worship, and the performance of the liturgy itself, including some discussion of the books needed for that performance.
The fifth and last part in the volume treats intellectual and cultural issues that pertain to both formal learning and to Christianity's imaginary. The lead chapter discusses some of the myriad ways in which early medieval people thought and wrote about God. The next addresses "God-talk," theology, directly by inquiring into doctrinal quarrels. These were fewer in number and intensity than those in Antiquity and perhaps less deeply rooted in the ordinary experience of most early medieval Christianities. The Bible, always and everywhere the crucial Christian book, or collection of books, is treated in its textual and interpretive frameworks. Books as objects, with particular attention to the books of the eastern Christian tradition, come in for a thorough discussion. Saints, the holy men and women who were thought to have lived exemplary lives, are analyzed for what they can teach us about the aspirations and expectations of ecclesiastical elites and ordinary believers. Finally, appropriately, the "Last Things" conclude the volume: How did Christians imagine the other world, the world beyond the grave?
Taken overall, this volume presents the reader with the main ways in which twenty-first-century scholars imagine the other world of early medieval Christianities. The interpretations offered here can never be definitive: much in the pages which follow challenges and refreshes debates or assumptions that have long been deeply embedded in the history of Christianity. In reappraising them, the book dislodges some issues from the center of attention and substitutes other, more timely ones for the rapidly changing world of the third Christian millennium. It is hoped that it will challenge and refresh those who read it, as preparing it has its editors and contributors.
The Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 4, Christianity in Western Europe, c.1100-c.1500 edited by Miri Rubin and Walter Simons (Cambridge University Press)
During the early middle ages, Europe developed complex and varied Christian cultures, and from about 1100 secular rulers, competing factions and inspired individuals continued to engender a diverse and ever-changing mix within Christian society. This volume explores the wide range of institutions, practices and experiences associated with the life of European Christians in the later middle ages. The clergy of this period initiated new approaches to the role of priests, bishops and popes, and developed an ambitious project to instruct the laity. For lay people, the practices of parish religion were central, but many sought additional ways to enrich their lives as Christians. Impulses towards reform and renewal periodically swept across Europe, led by charismatic preachers and supported by secular rulers. This book provides accessible accounts of these complex historical processes and entices the reader towards further enquiry.
Excerpt: Medieval Christian Europe has long been acknowledged as a place and a time central to the formation of the Christian heritage. Until recently it was still described in popular and learned books alike as the 'age of faith', a time of intense religious feeling and extravagant action in the pursuit of religious goals: crusade, inquisition, scholastic theology and mysticism. It was an age characterised by an imposing public Christian art and the institutions of the papacy in the lead. Until recent decades the study of medieval European Christianity was based primarily on Latin texts: theological tracts, canon law and its commentaries, and some devotional tracts. The protagonists of medieval European Christianity were popes, bishops, reforming abbots and activist preachers; its spaces were envisaged as monasteries, cathedrals and universities. While Europe's tens of thousands of parishes were still in evidence, the quality of religion in them excited relatively little interest: provision for them being either sparse, or merely a diluted version of the official and learned formulations of scholars, popes and bishops.
This volume of The Cambridge History of Christianity offers the reader a series of articles that summarises some of the exciting, imaginative and transformative historical work on the religious cultures inhabited by Western Europeans between Imo and 1500. It cannot encompass all areas of current research but it offers introductory essays to a vast range of subjects, with the expectation that the interested reader will go on to pursue more. We have aimed to give an overview of ideas and theories relating to the Christian life of institutions and individuals, as well as to provide glimpses of the implementation of such ideas within the rhythms of life in parishes and religious institutions, on city streets and along Europe's pilgrimage routes. Every idea and practice discussed here has a complex history: from a genesis out of traditions patristic, classical or rooted in earlier medieval centuries, as well as a life within the diverse regions of Europe.
Medieval Christian life was always characterised by uniformity and diversity. Take the central cult of the Virgin Mary, with its spectacular rise in this
period. While Mary was taught at the mother's knee, the forms of address, the shape of her statues, even the variety of feasts celebrated in her honour varied from region to region, as between, say, the emergent group of mother and son in tender embrace in thirteenth-century northern France and the seated, frontal hieratic Mary, of the 'seat of wisdom', as cherished by the Catalan Churches. The central Italian cities developed a rich and resounding vernacular devotional style in celebrating Mary through recitation of her praises —laude — in confraternities, a phenomenon unknown elsewhere. Even the rosary, Mary's aid in prayer, created at the end of the medieval period, was a northern product that took long to penetrate the habits of southern Europeans. Even more than was true for their habits in governance, warfare and business, Europeans recognised a family resemblance to others as they travelled Europe for trade, diplomacy or pilgrimage, but there was also a strong local sense, bolstered by linguistic difference and liturgical traditions, in the regional religious cultures of Europe. Belief and practice could show unity in one sense (geographic, social, linguistic) but diversity in another. Both unity and diversity may be perceived but take different forms or manifest themselves differently depending on the subject, place and so on. While institutional centralisation, the spread of the Mendicant orders, the international reach of the great universities and finally the printing press brought uniformity to the world of rules and doctrine, other dynamics in this period worked against uniformity, not least the breakthrough of the vernacular languages in devotional life, powerful 'national' monarchies supporting the salvation of their subjects, or the inexhaustible creativity of devotional life itself.
The beginning of this period coincides with momentous changes in the economic and political structures of Europe and in the quality of life of its people. Between moo and 1200 the population of Europe probably doubled. Thousands of new towns — mostly small market towns — developed, and new villages were planted on lands recently brought under plough. Europeans were on the move: trading, travelling on pilgrimage, settling recently conquered lands at the extremities of Europe — in Iberia, in the Baltic region — and their enterprises were facilitated by the organised direction offered by rulers and their officials. The educated men of the church were deeply involved in all these enterprises: they advised kings, managed ecclesiastical estates, negotiated treaties and acted as judges. The leading intellectuals theorised the tenets upon which a Christian society — societas Christiana — might and ought to conduct its affairs. The twelfth century saw the seminal formulations of fundamental institutions which were to affect Christian lives for centuries: the meaning of the sacraments, the just price and reward for labour, the terms of Christian marriage, the nature of clerical celibacy and the appropriate lifestyle for priests.
The co-emergence of ecclesiastical and secular administrations was a battlefield of ideas and personalities. Already in the formative era of the Christian Empire — the fifth century — emperor and bishop of Rome discoursed on the relative weight and honour that each office held. There were complex issues of demarcation to be settled over legal jurisdiction and the right to collect taxes, for both kings and pope claimed the right to do so and depended on the resources raised from the same peoples. So a field of competition as well as emulation developed between the church's bureaucracy, the system through which saving grace was disseminated to Christians, and the states — kingdoms, city-states, principalities — that secured property through justice and protected life and limb. These spheres were intricately linked not least through the powerful institution of sacred kingship, but also in their parallel aims to regulate aspects of family, sexual morality and inheritance. In their mutual commitment to the underlying Christian ethos of the communities they ruled and served, church and state combined in efforts to define and correct religious deviation, and in the related challenge of locating the Jews within Christian polities.
The integrated Europe of the high Middle Ages adhered increasingly to the model of parish Christianity. While the most renowned and well-documented institutions were religious houses of various orders, most Christians experienced religious life within a community of village or urban neighbourhood, a parish into which they were born and with which they were associated for the rest of their lives. All the efforts to expand and deepen Christian teaching and instruction — and this period sees the series of ecumenical councils which defined and disseminated the terms of this project — directed attention to the parish and its servant, the parish priest. Teaching of the basics of faith began at home and continued in the parish; confession, penance and annual communion followed; marriage was directed towards the parish, and at the end of life burial and commemoration too. The priest was charged with the many tasks of celebrating the liturgy, visiting the sick, instructing the young, supporting the poor, ministering to the dying, alongside the maintenance of his parish's income from land, livestock, rents and tithes.
In rural communities the unit of agrarian work, lordship and parish often coincided to create a meaningful space of social interaction through communal religious life. In urban centres, where some 10-15 per cent of Europeans lived, the possibilities for expression of religious interests were more diverse.
Some regions of Europe, like central and northern Italy and the Low Countries, were highly urbanised, and within cities and towns experiments in new forms of religious life for the laity — men and women — took place. From these urban settings emerged a type of female religious, the beguine — a woman committed to religious perfection within the world, in a life that combined prayer, meditation, service and work. The friar was a creation of these cities too: above all the Franciscan model of the poor, begging man, whose personal example was combined powerfully with effective preaching in order to turn Christians into committed Christians, that is, to convert souls. Various forms of confraternal life also transcended the parish, as lay people combined to explore old themes in new ways — the Passion, Mary's life, Corpus Christi — with expert guidance in religious poetry, drama and music from the specialists, the friars. This is a period of enormous creativity, as Europe's wealth and inventive energies, its many materials — marble, alabaster, wood, pearls, gold and silver — were worked into visual and tactile representations of the Christian story. This volume includes chapters on the visual arts and music too. The religious life of medieval Europe was full of rhythm and song, light and colour. Since its practices and ideas were mediated through efforts that made them tangible and sensual, some critics — like John Wyclif — considered them to verge on the idolatrous.
The calamities experienced in later medieval Europe, in the wake of the traumatic visitation of famine (1315-22), the Black Death (1347-5o) and the recurrent waves of plague in subsequent decades, only served to enhance the intensity of preoccupation with death and the afterlife. It left a depleted European population, but also opened opportunities for those who remained. Polities and communities leapt to associations between disaster and moral danger: the Black Death led to attacks on Jews and to the annihilation of their communities throughout the Holy Roman Empire; a rhetoric grew perched upon the dialectic of purity and danger. A new style of European communication developed through a new type of preacher whose audience was no longer the people of a parish or a city, but whole regions. The papacy — caught up in its own struggles for self-definition throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries — recruited and licensed charismatic preachers from among the ranks of the most enthusiastic and able friars and charged them with the work of reform, correction and exhortation, men like the friars Vincent Ferrer (d. 1419) or Giovanni da Capistrano (d. 1456). Cities and principalities appointed such performers to do the work of social discipline in their piazzas: like Bernardino in the cities of central Italy in the 1420s, or Savonarola in the 149os. At the same time in the cities of north-west Europe civic authorities tended to prefer bourgeois self-help to public oratory; the more motivated among the literate urban population were served by a rich vernacular devotional literature: the Mirror, Imitatio Christi, the books of hours produced in their thousands in the workshops of Bruges, Ghent, Amiens and Antwerp; a somewhat larger group of lay men and women could turn to the dramatic spectacles crafted by chambers of rhetoricians or the mysteries of the Corpus Christi guilds.
Women and men participated vigorously and sometimes differently in the making of European Christianity between 1100 and 150o. A wide range of knowledge — medical, theological, legal — combined to form a robust and commonly held official wisdom about the inadequacy of women to think, to make moral judgements, to endure hardship, to exercise authority, and to lead. In this period, as in earlier medieval centuries, women were excluded from all orders of the church, minor and major, nor did they enjoy access to education within the institutions of learning that were associated with the church. Some women, usually of aristocratic backgrounds, sought religious perfection with nunneries, and a few became extremely distinguished for their mystical insights and exemplary lives: Hildegard of Bingen (d. 1179), Elisabeth of Schönau (d. 1164 / 65), Marie d'Oignies (d. 1213). As the period progresses, and in keeping with the trends in religious life already delineated, there is a wide diversity of manifestations of religious enthusiasm by women who were or had been married, by mothers with children, by young women of very modest backgrounds. The provision for women's sacramental needs was always a challenge: the priest had to enter their enclosures to hear confession and celebrate mass. Conversely, when women had something important to impart — prophecy, messages for reform, mystical revelations — they had to go about the world in a way that was not considered appropriate for women. Some, like Bridget of Sweden (d. 1373), managed the transition well, others, like Marguerite Poréte (d. 131o) did not; she died at the stake as a relapsed heretic.
The very term 'heresy' was refined in this period to new precision. The legacy of early Christian legislation and some early medieval preoccupation with it was overhauled in this period to produce a system that combined identification, examination, attempts at correction, and ultimately punishment of those deemed to be 'heretics'. The task of protecting the faith, by punishing publicly those who knowingly and wilfully deviated from it, was the responsibility of bishops above all. To them parish priests were meant to present cases of people who spread their views and were resistant to correction. The bishop's court dealt with all serious infringements of church law,
and they were charged with the protection of true belief. As the system of church law evolved and spread all over Europe, and as it was tightened, made uniform and added to periodically by new papal pronouncements, a whole body of law and practice on heresy grew. Since there was a sense from the twelfth century that in several parts of Europe the challenge was rather more profound, the papacy allowed for the creation of the inquisition in the 1230s, first manned by the recently established order of the Dominican friars. So southern France, Bohemia and northern Italy saw particularly concerted efforts at preaching against heresy and trials of those who persisted. Yet again, the political map of Europe displays variations in the reception of this institution: it never operated in England, and the Iberian monarchs only adopted it in the late fifteenth century. Still, a whole literature on the techniques of identification and interrogation was created by the inquisitors, for the training of future cohorts in the hope of making the system transparent, uniform and conforming to the principles of church law.
In this world of vast institutional and intellectual elaboration of the Christian story, where the Christian parish offered the fundamental frame for the lives of Europeans, there was a great deal of preoccupation with those who were not fully part of that world. The amount of imaginative effort and intellectual energy invested in thinking about Jews and Muslims was great, and it was intricately related to the vision of what a societas Christiana was and ought to be. Jews played a central role in the narratives of Christ's ministry and became more sharply drawn in this period as the knowing, and thus guilty, agents of the Passion. The traditional formulation of St Augustine, about the value of Jews as witnesses to Christian truth, as a crucial part of the unfolding Christian story unto its ends, was challenged in medieval Europe in towns and cities where Jews were constant reminders of the possibility of doubt. A vast literature of polemic, whose arguments were sometimes rehearsed by preachers from the pulpit, or in staged public disputations (Paris 1240, Barcelona 1263, Tortosa 1410), assisted the birth of elaborate narratives that cast Jews as enemies. Enemies of Christ at the birth of Christianity, they were now imagined as enemies of Europeans too: of their hallowed spaces, their cherished beliefs, and of their innocent children. This period saw the birth of the accusations of ritual murder, the blood libel and the host-desecration narrative too.
In Iberia, southern Italy, in Cyprus and in the Holy Land Christians encountered Jews for periods of time and observed their practice from neighbouring proximity. In Iberia Christian monarchs were conquering lands previously held by Muslims and were confronted with the challenges of ruling truly multi-ethnic communities. Conversion of Muslims to Christianity was actively encouraged and may have been perceived as more easily achievable than the conversion of the Jews. A vast literature cast the Muslim as a figure of romance and of violence. Dozens of stories circulated in Iberia, which involved the encounter between Muslims and the Virgin Mary. The efforts at achieving religious uniformity resulted by the very end of this period in expulsions of Jews and then Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula; by then Jews had been expelled from England, France and cities in Italy and the Empire.
The history of Christianity in Europe between Imo and 1500 will be the product of several overlapping histories. These took place in parishes and universities, among men and women, learned people and illiterate enthusiasts; these are histories of the eruption of charisma within the routines of daily Christian life, of toleration as well as violent aggression. Everywhere we turn we encounter the efforts by papacy, bishops, theologians, poets and rulers, to define and then maintain the coherence and order of Christian Europe. These efforts coexisted with and even encouraged questions and doubts, as ideas were applied in daily life. The powerful model of sacramental Christianity was delivered to every Christian in Europe by ordained priests, the channels of saving grace. But it also confronted the challenges posed by the claim that matter could bear the divine, that a fallible human could be a channel of grace, that images carved in stone or painted on wood could assist contact with God. These questions were famously asked by Lollards in fourteenth-century England, by Hussites in fifteenth-century Bohemia, and in each case they prompted vigorous political responses from church and state. Christianity in Western Europe c.1100—c.1500 aims to understand these creative dialectical processes. They shaped the lives of medieval Europe and, when Europeans intervened in the lives of people in the Americas, Africa and Asia, they became part of a global story too.
Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 5, Eastern Christianity by Michael Angold (Cambridge University Press) This volume brings together in one compass the Orthodox Churches - the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople and the Russian, Armenian, Ethiopian, Egyptian and Syrian Churches. It follows their fortunes from the late Middle Ages until modern times - exactly the period when their history has been most neglected. Inevitably, this emphasises differences in teachings and experience, but it also brings out common threads, most notably the resilience displayed in the face of alien and often hostile political regimes. The central theme is the survival against the odds of Orthodoxy in its many forms into the modern era. The last phase of Byzantium proves to have been surprisingly important in this survival. It provided Orthodoxy with the intellectual, artistic and spiritual reserves to meet later challenges. The continuing vitality of the Orthodox Churches is evident for example in the Sunday School Movement in Egypt and the Zoe brotherhood in Greece.
Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 6, Reform and Expansion 1500-1660 by R. Po-chia Hsia (Cambridge University Press) This authoritative volume presents the history of Christianity from the eve of the Protestant Reformation to the height of Catholic Reform. It thoroughly examines the impact of the permanent schism on Latin Christendom, the Catholic responses to it, and the influence on the development of the Orthodox churches. The volume covers the history of society, politics, theology, liturgy, religious orders, and art in the lands of Latin Christianity, while expanding the boundaries of inquiry to the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions both in Europe and in the non-European world.
Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 7, Enlightenment, Reawakening and Revolution 1660-1815 by Stewart J. Brown (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.
Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 8, World Christianities c.1815-c.1914 by Sheridan Gilley (Cambridge University Press) This is the first scholarly treatment of nineteenth century Christianity to discuss the subject in a global context. In addition to exhaustive chapters on European Christendom, it deals with the expansion of Christianity in the Americas, Asia, Australasia and Africa, covering both Catholic and Protestant traditions. Major themes include the churches' response to modern ideas, Christianity and nationalism, the expanding role of women in religious life and the explosion of new voluntary forms of Christianity.Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 9, World Christianities c.1914-c.2000 by Hugh McLeod (Cambridge University Press) The twentieth century saw changes as dramatic as any in Christian history. The Churches suffered serious losses, both through persecution and through secularization, in what had been for several centuries their European heartlands, but grew fast in Africa and parts of Asia. This volume provides a comprehensive history of Catholicism, Protestantism and the Independent Churches in all parts of the world in the century when Christianity truly became a global religion. Written by a powerful team of specialists from many different countries, the volume is broad in scope.
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