ILLTUD AND THE END OF A WORLD

stilltud inside

This column is about one of the truly great Christians of Late Antiquity, but someone you will probably not have heard of. In a world falling into ruins, he kept faith and learning alive. His name was Illtud – and finding him demands a little detective work. You have to be really famous for people [Read More...]

HOW MANY GOSPELS?

In a post last year, I remarked how definitions of the Biblical canon had changed through the centuries. I’ve recently been working on the history of lost and alternative gospels, and how such texts continued to be available through the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Contrary to popular legend, the mainstream churches did [Read More...]

MOCKING THE MONKS

For much of human history, it is exceedingly difficult to hear the voices of ordinary people, and especially of those whose ideas run contrary to the approved ideologies of the day. Through the long Christian Middle Ages, for instance, it’s hard to reconstruct the mindset of people who did not agree with basic church teachings. [Read More...]

The Agony of Papal Exits

Pius VI, who died in exile from Rome

“How heavy the papal mantle weighs,” wrote Dante in his Divine Comedy.  The shepherding of some 1 billion Catholics is no simple business, so one cannot begrudge the frail Pope Benedict for stepping down.  Given the rarity of such an event, the recent media frenzy is understandable.  Much commentary has and will focused on Benedict’s [Read More...]

DYING QUIETLY

st-cuthberts-cross

Whenever I teach Christian history, I feel a strong obligation to discuss the methodology of approaching early texts, to understand how they are put together. The best single resource I have ever found for this purpose is Bishop Stephen Neill’s Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1961, which was subsequently revised and expanded by N. T. [Read More...]

THAT’LL BE THE DAY THAT I DIE

st_davids01

March 1 is the feast of David, the early medieval bishop and missionary who became patron saint of Wales. We actually know strikingly little of David apart from that date, of March 1, but I’m going to suggest that represents a good deal in its own right. Through the Middle Ages, Christians cultivated particular saints, [Read More...]

The Mormon Jesus and the Garden of Eden

Canterbury Psalter

As a corollary to my current interest in the Latter-day Saint understanding of Jesus, I’ve been attempting to get some limited handle on the diverse ways that Christians of all sorts have understood, experienced, and depicted Jesus over time. The very best thing I’ve done to that end is to pick up a copy of [Read More...]

David Barton, Louis L’Amour, and the Use of Historical Evidence

bendigo

NOTE:  A shorter version of this post appeared yesterday at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. The rumors are true.  David Barton’s story about children with guns in a 19th century classroom came directly from Bendigo Shafter, a Louis L’Amour novel. Readers of my blog The Way of Improvement Leads Home will recall a post [Read More...]

Calvinist Controversy at Louisiana College

The latest front in the Baptist battle over Calvinism and Arminianism has opened at Louisiana College, where the administration has decided not to renew the contracts of three faculty members - Jason Hiles, Kevin McFadden and Ryan Lister. The latter two have doctorates from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, while Hiles’s doctoral degree is from Southeastern Seminary. [Read More...]

THE PRIEST IN THE TEMPLE

GeorgeHerbert2

Attending a church service can be a sobering experience, and not necessarily for anything said or sung. It’s shocking to read the birth and death dates of the various composers of the words and music of the hymns used by my own Episcopal church. We realize with horror just how short the lifespan was in [Read More...]


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