Christians and Communists

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There is an odd but very useful source on early Christianity that remains strangely unfamiliar to many historians of that topic. Even less known is the discussion by a totally unexpected nineteenth century source, which provides many insights that are still valuable. In the late second century, the pagan satirist Lucian wrote the story of [Read More...]

Becoming Mary

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In a recent post, I looked at the mysterious figure of the “Woman clothed with the Sun,” depicted in the Book of Revelation. I suggested that she was likely to symbolize New Israel or the Church, although later generations have usually connected her with the Virgin Mary, and the Revelation passage has largely shaped later [Read More...]

The Woman Clothed With The Sun

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I recently posted on changing ideas about the Virgin Mary’s role in the New Testament, suggesting that we see an upsurge of respectful interest in her towards the 90s of the first century. I am still grappling with the reasons for this change. I’d like here to explore one particular Bible passage that really gives [Read More...]

The War That Never Was

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This is nothing like a standard Anxious Bench post, but it does get to some issues of how we write history. As I’ve remarked in the past, a lot of professional historians dislike and distrust “alternate” history, which they see as a kind of pointless parlor game. But we all use an approach like that [Read More...]

William J. Seymour and Global Pentecostalism

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I just received a copy of a major new book, which should be of great interest to Anxious Bench readers. Even better, I also draw attention to another and closely related text from the same hand. Gastón Espinosa, who teaches at Claremont McKenna College, has just published a substantial volume called William J. Seymour and [Read More...]

She Treasured It In Her Heart

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I’m wondering when it is possible to argue from silence when reading historical sources, and particularly in a Biblical context. I have been writing recently on the Virgin Mary in early Christianity, and was initially taken aback to find how even I tended to attribute statements to the wrong gospel, and thus the wrong historical [Read More...]

Finding a Subject

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Beth Barr, Tommy Kidd and myself have all been posting on the subject of writing and publishing, particularly of academic books. All of us trod lightly on one of the most important aspects of all, namely how someone goes about choosing a topic in the first place. In some cases, it’s easy. You might for [Read More...]

HISTORY IN MAPS

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I was recently looking at some older maps of Africa in the colonial period. Now, maps can be quite deceptive in telling stories, but one in particular struck me forcefully. This is a c.1913 map of the African religious scene. The Muslim regions are quite familiar, and the mapmaker has done his/her best to show [Read More...]

ENDING THE DRAFT

For obvious reasons, historians concern themselves with writing about things that happened, rather than others that did not exist, or that ceased to happen. In one instance though, we can learn a lot about modern America from tracing the long-term cultural impact of something that finished over forty years ago, namely the military draft. Odd [Read More...]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR: A WORLD ON THE CROSS

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In my book The Great and Holy War, I write at some length about the propaganda imagery of the war, and how thoroughly it drew on Christian imagery, especially Christ himself, and the Crucifixion. Posters and cartoons depicted whole nations as the victims of crucifixion. Usually they were depicted in the form of women, and [Read More...]


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