Exploring ‘End Times’ Armageddon Mythology across Faiths

The term is often used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario. Introduction According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Armageddon (from Ancient Greek: Ἁρμαγεδών Harmagedōn,[1][2] Late Latin: Armagedōn,[3] from Hebrew: הר מגידו‎ Har Megiddo) is the prophesied location of a gathering[…]

Medieval Christian Saints and Magical Charms as Protection from Animals

Saints were sometimes associated with protecting animals, particularly in magical texts or ‘charms’. St Francis of Assisi (1181/82–1225) is traditionally known as the patron saint of animals and the natural environment. During the Middle Ages, however, other saints were sometimes associated with protecting animals, particularly in magical texts or ‘charms’. One such charm is found[…]

Sex with Demons: A Belief That Runs Deep in Christian and Jewish Traditions

The earliest account of demon sex in Jewish and Christian traditions comes from the Book of Genesis. Introduction Houston physician and pastor Stella Immanuel – described as “spectacular” by Donald Trump for her promotion of unsubstantiated claims about anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for COVID-19 – has some other, very unconventional views. As well[…]

Religion in Medieval England

The Church had a close relationship with the English state throughout the Middle Ages. Introduction Medieval Religion Unlike religion in the modern world, medieval religion had deep significance and central importance in the lives of most individuals and nations. There was hardly any concept of a secular nation where religion did not play any role[…]

‘Positives Christentum’: Christianity in Nazi Germany

Hitler identified himself as Christian and said “the [Nazi] Party represents the standpoint of Positive Christianity”. Introduction Positive Christianity (German: Positives Christentum) was a movement within Nazi Germany which mixed the belief that the racial purity of the German people should be maintained by mixing Nazi ideology with elements of Christianity. Adolf Hitler used the[…]

Exploring Abrahamic Mythology since the Ancient World

In its broadest academic sense, the word “myth” simply means a traditional story. However, many restrict the term to sacred stories. Introduction Abrahamic mythology is the body of myths associated with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The term encompasses a broad variety of legends and stories, especially those considered sacred narratives. Mythological themes and elements occur[…]

African American Spirituals: From Cotton Fields to Concert Halls

After the Civil War, touring groups of black college singers popularized slavery-era songs, giving rise to a new musical genre. “Swing low, sweet chariot….” These words are familiar to many Americans, who might sing them in worship, in Sunday school, around campfires, in school, and in community choruses. But the black singers responsible for introducing[…]

Christianity Used as a Justification for Slavery in 19th-Century America

White Christian slaveholders argued that slavery was a necessary evil because it would control the sinful, less humane, black race. Slave owners had many justifications for why holding people in bondage was acceptable. From the idea that African Americans were a lesser race who needed taking care of by white patriarchs to the economic justification,[…]

The Spread and Impact of the Reformation in 16th-Century Europe

The many divisions among Christians led to a series of wars and persecutions. Introduction As Protestantism spread, it branched out in several directions. By the start of the 1600s, there were already many different Christian churches in Europe. Each Protestant denomination had its own beliefs and practices. But all Protestants had much in common. They[…]

The Cult of the Holy Name in the Long Fifteenth Century

The meaning and significance of devotion to the Holy Name remained open, malleable, and unstable. Introduction The article discusses the Europe-wide late medieval phenomenon of the cult of the Holy Name, using it as a case study to discuss the relationship of micro-and macro-historical transformations by scrutinizing the enormous success of a religious innovation which[…]

The Inquisition in the Later Medieval and Renaissance Eras

During the Late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, the concept and scope of the Inquisition significantly expanded. Introduction The Inquisition, in historical ecclesiastical parlance also referred to as the “Holy Inquisition”, was a group of institutions within the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy. The Inquisition started in 12th-century France to combat[…]

The First Medieval Inquisitions against the Cathars and Waldensians

The Cathars were first noted in the 1140s in Southern France, and the Waldensians around 1170 in Northern Italy. Introduction The Medieval Inquisition was a series of Inquisitions (Catholic Church bodies charged with suppressing heresy) from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition (1184–1230s) and later the Papal Inquisition (1230s). The Medieval Inquisition was established in[…]

The Historical Roots of White Supremacist Ideas in U.S. Christianity

Elements of racist ideology have long been present in and justified by white Christianity in the United States. Introduction When a young Southern Baptist pastor named Alan Cross arrived in Montgomery, Ala., in January 2000, he knew it was where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had his first church and where Rosa Parks helped[…]

History, the KKK, and Christianity

Nationalism (or “100% Americanism”), Protestant Christianity, and white supremacy became inextricably linked. Randall J. Stephens responds to Kelly J. Baker’s essay, “The Artifacts of White Supremacy,” which is featured in the June issue of the Forum. Baker’s essay considers how discussions about racism—and white supremacy in particular—tend to treat it as a matter of belief,[…]

The Invention of Satanic Witchcraft by Medieval Christian Authorities

The idea of organized satanic witchcraft was invented in Europe by church authorities, who at first were met with skepticism. Introduction On a midsummer day in 1438, a young man from the north shore of Lake Geneva presented himself to the local church inquisitor. He had a confession to make. Five years earlier, his father[…]

Christianity and Globalization in the Year 1000

Their mission was not only to convert people but especially kings and rulers, thereby making the people more amenable. In the year 1000 CE, complex trade networks were taking shape, stimulating unprecedented cultural interactions. The Vikings reached the shores of North America, trade routes connected China with Europe and Africa, and in the Americas, cities[…]

The Growth and Spread of Christianity in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds

The Edict of Milan made the Roman Empire officially neutral with regard to religious worship – and then it flipped into forced conversion. Introduction Persecution of Christians Members of the Early Christian movement often became political targets and scapegoats for the social ills and political tensions of specific rulers and turbulent periods during the first[…]

A History of Evangelicalism in the United States

After World War II, conservative Protestants rejected the separatist stance and began calling themselves evangelicals. Introduction In the United States, evangelicalism is an umbrella group of Protestant Christians who believe in the necessity of being born again, emphasize the importance of evangelism, and affirm traditional Protestant teachings on the authority and the historicity of the[…]

European Missionaries and the Spread of Christianity, 1500-1750

Christianity spread around the world, largely due to the energy unleashed by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Introduction Missionaries have spread Christianity since the days of the Roman Empire. By the time Rome fell in 476 c.e., much of Europe was Christian. One famous missionary, Saint Patrick, had even brought the Christian faith to Ireland. During[…]

Abraham, the Patriarch: The Stories and the Historicity

Little if any direct archeological evidence exists concerning Abraham. Introduction In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Abraham is a venerated patriarch whose relationship with God provides the foundational story for God’s beneficial relationship with humanity. According to biblical tradition (and some say myth), Abraham (c. 20th century BCE) was born in or near the city of Ur in Mesopotamia,[…]

The Emergence and Growth of Protestant Calvinism in the 16th and 17th Centuries

Calvinism is known for some notable experiments in Christian theocracy. Introduction Calvinism is a system of Christian theology advanced by John Calvin, a Protestant Reformer in the sixteenth century, and further developed by his followers, associates and admirers. The term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches, of which Calvin was[…]

The Jewish Roman World of Early Christianity

In 63 B.C.E. Pompey was invited to settle a dispute between two Maccabeans. Thus came the Romans. By Dr. Dennis C. DulingProfessor Emeritus of Religious StudiesNiagara University Introduction “Judaism” in the time of Jesus is more properly designated “Judaisms” as it can include a rich variety of forms and practices that flourished during late Second[…]

A Brief History of Christian Inquisitions

The notion of religious liberty and of freedom of conscience was not recognized. Introduction Inquisition, (capitalized I) as broadly used, refers to the judgment of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church with the cooperation of the secular authorities. It can mean an ecclesiastical tribunal or institution of the Roman Catholic Church for combating or suppressing[…]

The History of Christianity from Its Emergence in the First Century CE

Christianity began in first century C.E. Jerusalem as a Jewish sect, but quickly spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Introduction The history of Christianity concerns the history of the Christian religion and the Church, from Jesus and his Twelve Apostles and Seventy Disciples to contemporary times. Christianity is the monotheistic religion which considers itself[…]

Ahriman: From the Lord of Darkness in Zoroastrianism to the Devil in Christianity

He is thought to have influenced supernatural entities in later religions such as Satan in Judaism, the devil in Christianity, and Iblis in Islam. Introduction Ahriman is the evil spirit in Early Iranian Religion, Zoroastrianism, and Zorvanism, Lord of Darkness and Chaos, and the source of human confusion, disappointment, and strife. He is also known[…]

Celtic Christianity in the Early Medieval British Isles

The term is misleading since it implies a notion of a self-identifying unity that did not exist. Introduction Celtic Christianity (also called Insular Christianity) refers to a distinct form of Christianity that developed in the British Isles during the fifth and sixth centuries among the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, and Manx (Isle of Man) peoples.[…]

Jewish Christians in Ancient Israel

Jewish Christians predominated in the movement of early Christianity. They bore the brunt of persecution from their fellow Jews. Introduction Jewish Christians (sometimes called also Hebrew Christians or Christian Jews) is a term which can have two meanings. The first describes the members of the early Christian movement, who were Jews that accepted Jesus of[…]

A History of the Controversy over the Christian ‘Great Commission’

It raises a fundamental question about whether religious diversity is a reality to be celebrated or an obstacle to be overcome. Introduction A majority of church-going American Christians are unfamiliar with the term, the “Great Commission,” a recent survey found. Even among those familiar with it, 25 percent recognized the phrase but could not explain[…]

Buddhist Bodhisattvas and Christian Saints in the Western Medieval World

A rough genealogy of the way in which the central narrative of Buddhism ended up in a Christian hagiography. On a side of the baptistry of the Piazza Duomo in the northern Italian city of Parma, there is a portal designed and constructed in the late twelfth-century and into the early thirteenth by the architect[…]

Medieval and Early Modern European Christianity and Slavery

The spread of Christianity in the Early Middle Ages (from the fifth to tenth centuries) marked the boundaries of slavery throughout Europe. Before New World expansion, concepts of race and racial hierarchies did not define who could and could not be enslaved in Western Europe. Instead, the spread of Christianity in the Early Middle Ages[…]