Forgiveness for Sale: Indulgences in the Medieval Church

The selling of indulgences was first practiced in the late thirteenth century and was changed after the Protestant Reformation. Introduction An Indulgence, in Roman Catholic theology, is the full or partial remission of punishment for sins. The indulgence is granted by the Church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution and involves certain actions[…]

Ancient Christian Art and Architecture

Early Christianity used the same artistic media as the surrounding Pagan culture. Introduction Early Christian art and architecture or Paleochristian art is the art produced by Christians or under Christian patronage from the earliest period of Christianity to, depending on the definition used, sometime between 260 and 525. In practice, identifiably Christian art only survives[…]

Religion in Medieval Europe

Christianity did not immediately win the hearts and minds of the people of Europe. Introduction Religion in the Middle Ages, though dominated by the Catholic Church, was far more varied than only orthodox Christianity. In the Early Middle Ages (c. 476-1000 CE), long-established pagan beliefs and practices entwined with those of the new religion so[…]

The Early Christianization of Armenia

Saint Gregory the Illuminator or Enlightener established Christianity as the official religion of ancient Armenia. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Christianization of Armenia began with the work of Syrian apostles from the 1st century CE and was boosted in the early 4th century CE by such figures as Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who converted the[…]

Six Great Heresies of the Middle Ages

So-called heresies offered the opportunity for religious expression outside of the narrowly defined and self-serving precepts of the Church. Introduction The medieval Church established its monopoly over the spiritual life of Europeans in the Early Middle Ages (c. 476-1000 CE) and consolidated that power throughout the High Middle Ages (1000-1300 CE) and Late Middle Ages[…]

Ten Should-Be Famous Women of Early Christianity

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Christianity has heard the term ‘Church Fathers’ but far less so ‘Church Mothers’. Introduction Women feature prominently in the gospels and Book of Acts of the Christian New Testament as supporters of Jesus’ ministry. The most famous of these is Mary Magdalene, most likely an upper-class woman of means instead[…]

Theocratic Tyranny: The Late Medieval to Early Modern Inquisition

Originally established in the 13th century to combat heretical groups, the Inquisition became a sophisticated, global operation in the early modern period. Introduction From movies to metal bands to Monty Python (“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”), the Holy Office of the Inquisition has retained a powerful place in popular imagination. For many, this image is[…]

Times Like Good Friday Were Dangerous for Medieval Jews

Language about Jews in the medieval Good Friday liturgy often carried over into physical violence toward local Jewish communities. As Christians observe Good Friday they will remember, with devotion and prayer, the death of Jesus on the Cross. It is a day of solemnity in which Christians give thanks for their salvation made possible by the suffering[…]

Antisemitism in the Middle Ages

The medieval period saw Jews experience intense antisemitism. Introduction The roots of antisemitism can be found in ancient history. Antisemitism existed prior to Christianity, as the work of Manetho from the third century BCE shows. However, antisemitism increased considerably following the rise of Christianity in Europe. This was partly due to the differences in belief,[…]

The Birth of the Book: On Christians, Romans, and the Codex

The codex didn’t catch on until surprisingly late in the ancient world. By Benjamin HarnettClassics Scholar A codex is just the Roman name for a book, made of pages, and usually bound on the left. Its predecessor was the scroll or book roll, which was unrolled as you read. The codex is manifestly superior: one[…]

A 500-Year-Old History of the Orthodox Dispute between Constantinople and Moscow

Ukraine’s Orthodox Church recently broke off from Russia. This dispute has a history that goes back to medieval Christianity, and continues to shape modern-day politics. A new Orthodox Church was recently established in Ukraine. Shortly after, Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the spiritual head of global Orthodox Christianity, granted independence to the new Orthodox[…]

How ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’ Made the Apocalypse a Popular Concern

Hal Lindsey and C. C. Carlson’s The Late Great Planet Earth introduced millions of readers worldwide to end-times prophecy. This book [The Late Great Planet Earth] contains incontrovertible proof that Christianity is the one true way. Everybody should read this. Amazon Reader Review Every 3 years Hal Lindsay [sic] writes a new book denoting how the world will end[…]

Anti-Semitic Propaganda and the Christian Church in Hitler’s Germany: A Case of Schrödinger’s Cat

The effectiveness of the propaganda machinery altered perception, thus reality. Abstract In his epic Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler made a point of disparaging the intelligentsia. He asserted that propaganda was the most effective tool to use in political campaigns since especially the popular masses generally possessed limited astuteness and were generally devoid of intellect. This[…]

Exorcism Has Been Part of Christianity for Centuries

Forty-five years ago, ‘The Exorcist’ terrified viewers with its portrayal of a practice that goes back several centuries and continues today in Christianity. “The Exorcist,” a horror film released 45 years ago, is a terrifying depiction of supernatural evil. The film tells the story of a young American girl who is possessed by a demon and eventually exorcised by a[…]

The Origins and Development of Medieval Christian Monasticism

There were two ancient Near-Eastern customs that contributed to the development of Christian monasticism. One must remember that the distinction between the tilled and irrigated fields surrounding the villages of Egypt and Syria was very clear. Beyond the fields was “the desert,” rocky and waterless land, with a sparse vegetation of brambles, nettles, and thornbushes,[…]

The Rise of the Western Church in Early Medieval Europe

During the first half of the sixth century, the Church had to face the difficulty of preserving itself under the rule of Germanic kings. Think about it for a moment. Christianity was not legally recognized and did not begin its real institutional evolution until 313, two years after the death of Diocletian, the emperor who[…]

Convivencia: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Medieval Spain

Examining the inter-relationship of religion and culture in the time period of medieval Spain known as the convivencia. By Lindsey Marie Vaughan Abstract Few time periods in world history offer as unique a glimpse into cultural cohabitation as the one in medieval Spain following the Arabic invasion and preceding the Christian Reconquest ended in 1492.[…]