A Brief History of Messianic Judaism

Young Jews praying at the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem (Image © Bigstock/kirill4mula) There are approximately 175,000 to 250,000 messianic Jews in the U.S, and 350,000 worldwide. By Dr. Ingrid Anderson / 11.13.2018 Associate Director of Jewish Studies Lecturer, Arts and Sciences Writing Program Boston University Introduction Messianic Jews consider themselves Jewish Christians. Specifically they believe, as[…]

Christian Persecution in Ancient Rome – On Again Off Again

Was persecution a consistent imperial policy, and what types of punishments were inflicted on Christians? The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883)/Wikimedia Commons The image of cowering Christians being thrown to the lions by Roman emperors is a grisly staple of popular culture. But how accurate is it?    By Dr. Shushma Malik and Dr. Caillan Davenport / 11.21.2016 Malik: Lecturer in[…]

Second Temple Judaism, Christianity, and the Emergence of Anti-Semitism

Modern reconstruction of what the Second Temple would have looked like after its renovation during the reign of Herod I / Photo by Juan R. Cuadra, Wikimedia Commons Exploring Judaism from 515 BCE to the destruction of the Second Temple and the following rise of anti-semitism in early Christianity. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.28.2018 Public Historian[…]

Centuries of Inaccurate Christian Depictions of the Historical Jesus

Mosaic of the vault of the chapel of San Zeno (IX century) / Photo by Livioandronico2013, Wikimedia Commons The Jesus we’ve inherited from centuries of Christian art is not accurate. By Dr. Joan Taylor / 02.08.2018 Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism King’s College London Over the past few decades, the question of[…]

The Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire

There were alternate systems of belief for those dissatisfied with the chaotic traditional religious forms. By Dr. Lynn Harry Nelson Emeritus Professor of Medieval History The University of Kansas Introduction Christianity first arose historically as a reform movement within Judaism. The apostle Paul forced it open to non-Jews and gave it the Greek flavor that[…]

Iconoclasm across Cultures from Antiquity to Modernity

Desecrated Christian icons in Turkey / Photo by Georges Jansoone JoJan, Göreme Valley Open Air Museum, Cappadocia, Wikimedia Commons Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons or monuments, usually for religious or political motives.  In common parlance, an iconoclast is a person who challenges cherished beliefs or traditional institutions as being based on error[…]

The Strange, Short Career of Judeo-Christianity

FDR / Library of Congress By Dr. Gene Zubovich / 03.22.2016 Visiting Lecturer in History University of California, Berkeley President Barack Obama insists that the United States defines itself by civic principles rather than by religious affiliation. In an otherwise unremarkable press conference in Turkey in 2009, he said: ‘[A]lthough… we have a very large Christian population,[…]

Virgin (Theotokos) and Child between Saints Theodore and George in Byzantine Art

Virgin (Theotokos) and Child between Saints Theodore and George, sixth or early seventh century, encaustic on wood, 2′ 3″ x 1′ 7 3/8″ (St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, Egypt) By Dr. William Allen Professor of Art History Arkansas State University At Mount Sinai Monastery One of thousands of important Byzantine images, books, and documents preserved at[…]

Archaeology is Revealing New Truths about the Origins of British Christianity

Centre for the Study for Christianity and Culture, University of York., Author provided New archaeological research on Glastonbury Abbey pushes back the date for the earliest settlement of the site by 200 years – and reopens debate on Glastonbury’s origin myths. By Dr. Roberta Gilchrist / 03.23.2018 Professor of Archaeology University of Reading New archaeological research on Glastonbury Abbey pushes back the date for[…]

The Ancient Greek Lament: From Paganism to Christianity

The Homeric Multitext, Creative Commons By Dr. Margaret Alexiou George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies Professor of Comparative Literature Emerita Harvard University Introduction The function and purpose of the lament changed in accordance with the historical developments of antiquity. What was the impact of the economic, social and religious upheavals which accompanied the decline of[…]

The Evolving Judeo-Christian Concept of “Hell” from the Ancient World to Today

The abyss of hell. Sandro Botticelli The meaning of hell might have changed over the centuries, but for devout Christians it remains a core part of their faith. By Dr. Joanne M. Pierce / 04.18.2018 Professor of Religious Studies College of the Holy Cross The recent dispute over whether Pope Francis denied the existence of hell[…]

Volcano Eruption Influenced Medieval Iceland’s Conversion to Christianity

Memories of the largest lava flood in the history of Iceland, recorded in an apocalyptic medieval poem, were used to drive the island’s conversion to Christianity, new research suggests. 03.19.2018 A team of scientists and medieval historians, led by the University of Cambridge, has used information contained within ice cores and tree rings to accurately[…]

Edom Divided: Jews and Christian Anti-Judaism in the Reformation

Jews in the Syngagoue by Rembrandt / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Lars Fischer / 10.27.2017 Honorary Research Associate, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies University College London “The Reformation” is really an umbrella term that covers a whole range of partly distinct, partly overlapping reformations that emerged and unfolded (even narrowly conceived) over the best[…]

When Americans Tried – and Failed – to Reunite Christianity

LeventeGyori/Shutterstock.com By Dr. David Mislin / 11.08.2017 Assistant Professor, Intellectual Heritage Program Temple University Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther, a German monk, initiated a split in Christianity that came to be known as the Protestant Reformation. After the Reformation, deep divisions between Protestants and Catholics contributed to wars, hostility and violence in Europe and America. For centuries, each side[…]

Ritual Landscapes in Pagan and Early Christian England

   By Dr. Austin Mason and Dr. Tom Williamson Mason: Assistant Professor of History, Carleton College Williamson: Professor of Landscape History, University of East Anglia Abstract This article explores some of the complex relationships which existed between topographic patterns and social organization in early medieval England. It argues that group identities were not entirely elective[…]

Did Financial Exigency Drive the Roman Empire to Embrace Christianity?

Detail of a Tapestry depicting Constantine’s Victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge designed by Peter Paul Rubens  1623-1625 CE. Photographed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Mary Harrsch © 2011 By Mary Harrsch / 12.20.2017 Historian Writing sometime between AD 307 and AD 310, an anonymous Gallic panegyrist recorded that Constantine witnessed a pagan theophany of Apollo accompanied by Victory, offering him laurel wreaths.[…]

Theodoret and Early Christian Growth in the Greek East

By Dr. Ioannis Papadogiannakis Lecturer in Patristics King’s College London Earth and sea are freed from their ancient ignorance; the error of idols is no longer to be seen; the darkness of ignorance has been dispersed, and the light of knowledge fills with its rays the whole inhabited world. Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians recognize the[…]

Early Modern Islam-Christian Transfers of Military Technology, 1730-1918

Château de Coussac-Bonneval / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Virginia H. Aksan / 01.14.2011 Professor Emeritus of History McMaster University Introduction Contained after 1700, the Ottoman threat to Europe evolved into an Austro-Russian-Ottoman struggle for hegemony over the remaining frontiers of the Danube, the Crimea and the Caucasus. The era from 1700 to 1900 is generally[…]

Consequences of the Reformation Continue to Fade Five Centuries Later

Illustration of a small crowd gathered to watch as Martin Luther directs the posting of his 95 theses, protesting the practice of the sale of indulgences, to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. Dated 1517. (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)        By (left-to-right) Dr. Gregory A. Smith, Dr. Jessica Martinez, Dr. Becka[…]

European Calvinism: Church Discipline

John Calvin on his deathbed in 1564, from a 19th-century engraving / Public Domain    By Dr. Jordan J. Ballor (left) and Dr. W. Bradford Littlejohn (right) / 03.25.2013 Ballor: Senior Research Fellow and Director of Publishing, Acton Institute Littlejohn: Research in Theology and Ethics Abstract This article surveys the 16th-century development and dissemination of[…]

Byzantine Amphora with Christian Inscription Discovered in Roman Trimammium Fortress

The six-line inscription in Ancient Greek found on the fragment of a 6th century AD Byzantine amphora in the Trimammium Fortress in Northeast Bulgaria. Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History By Ivan Dikov / 01.09.2018 Part of an Early Byzantine amphora with a fully preserved inscription in Ancient Greek dedicated to Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary[…]

The Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus: Early Christian Adoption and Adaptation of Roman and Greek Art Forms

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, marble, 359 C.E. (Treasury of Saint Peter’s Basilica) By Dr. Allen Farber / 08.08.2015 Professor of Art History State University of New York College at Oneonta Please note that due to photography restrictions, the images used in the video above show the plaster cast on display in the Vatican Museum. Nevertheless,[…]

An Introduction to Early Christian Art and Architecture

Colossal statue of Constantine the Great, 4th century (Capitoline Museum, Rome) (photo: Jean-Christophe BENOIST CC BY 2.5) By Dr. Allen Farber / 08.08.2015 Professor of Art History State University of New York College at Oneonta Early Christianity Two important moments played a critical role in the development of early Christianity: 1. The decision of the Apostle Paul[…]

What History Really Tells Us about the Birth of Jesus

The nativity scenes celebrated each Christmas bear little resemblance to history. skepticalview/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND By Dr. Robyn J. Whitaker / 12.21.2017 Bromby Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies Trinity College University of Divinity I might be about to ruin your Christmas. Sorry. But the reality is those nativity plays in which your adorable children wear tinsel and angel[…]

Flowers in Renaissance Manuscripts and Their Symbolism

Red roses in the Getty’s garden and as a detail in All Saints from the Spinola Hours, about 1510–20, Master of James IV of Scotland. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig IX 18, fol. 257v Manuscript curators shed light on the associations and uses of seven favorite garden flowers in Renaissance manuscripts and their symbolism for[…]

The Other Hippies in the 1967 Summer of Love – the ‘Jesus People’

A crowd at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco celebrates day one of the ‘Summer of Love.’ AP Photo By Dr. Larry Eskridge / 09.15.2017 Instructor in History Wheaton College This year marks the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love.” Popular culture remembers the tens of thousands of joyous young hippies that descended upon San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district to[…]

When African-American ‘Gospel Sermons’ Came on the Phonograph

Oak Grove Acapella Singers, a Gospel group of Chester County, Tennessee, being recorded while singing in the office of the preacher at the Oak Grove Church of Christ. Tennessee State Library and Archives By Dr. Jerry Zolten / 06.29.2017 Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences Pennsylvania State University The first truly African-American musical form, the[…]

The Christian Renaissance and Reformation in Continental Europe

Eight reformers (Hieronymus Bock, Johann Buchenhagen, Johann Calvin, Johannes Hus, Martin Luther, Philipp M. / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek By Dr. Stephen M. Feldman Jerry H. Housel/Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Professor of Law Adjunct Professor of Political Science University of Wyoming The Renaissance A first century AD bust of Cicero / Capitoline Museums, Rome Toward the end of[…]