The Early Medieval Hiberno-Scottish Missions

Since the 8th and 9th centuries, these early missions were called ‘Celtic Christianity’. Introduction The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a series of missions and expeditions initiated by various Irish clerics and cleric-scholars who, for the most part, are not known to have acted in concert.[1] There was no overall coordinated mission, but there were nevertheless sporadic[…]

The First Christian Missionaries in the Ancient World

It was initially a Jewish message and so the followers of Jesus took his teachings to the synagogues first. Introduction According to Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, the last thing Jesus did before he bodily ascended to heaven was to commission the disciples to ‘witness’ to his teachings. ‘Disciple’ meant ‘student’ and was derived from the various schools[…]

The Legend of Arius’ Death: Imagination, Space and Filth in Ancient Historiography

The significance of Constantinople as the place of the imagined event of the death of Arius. Introduction In the last forty years, research in the history of early Christianity has broadened considerably in scope. Whereas an earlier generation of historians focused its attention on those figures deemed foundational, even ‘orthodox’, by later Christian tradition, in[…]

An Historical Overview of Catholic Saints and Veneration

Many saints are venerated for specific reasons, professions, or even nations. Introduction On Oct. 10, 2020, Carlo Acutis, a computer enthusiast, was beatified and given the title of “Blessed,” in the town of Assisi in Italy. Already, Catholics are calling this 15-year-old video gamer and computer programmer the “patron saint of the internet.” Acutis, a[…]

Historical Problems in the Trial(s) and Crucifixion in the Gospels

Reading the gospels as history without the criteria we apply to the reading of all ancient history remains problematic. Introduction The story of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ is reenacted every year by Christians all over the world in the Easter liturgy. The story has become an essential article of faith and is rarely questioned by New Testament scholars[…]

A History of Heresy in Ancient and Medieval Christianity

The study of heresy requires an understanding of the development of orthodoxy and the role of creeds in the definition of orthodox beliefs. Introduction, Etymology, Definition Heresy in Christianity denotes the formal denial or doubt of a core doctrine of the Christian faith[1] as defined by one or more of the Christian churches.[2] In Western[…]

Saints in Medieval Christian Art

The powers of saints were believed to extend to their images. By Dr. Wendy A. SteinResearch AssociateDepartment of Medieval Art and The CloistersMetropolitan Museum of Art Since early Christian times, hundreds of men and women have been revered in the Church and identified as saints. Their lives were held up as models of exemplary behavior,[…]

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[…]