The Curse of Capitals and the Theology of Punctuation

I have invented a new discipline, the Theology of Punctuation. I am presently writing a book about the couple of centuries preceding Jesus’s time, and over the past year or two I have written quite a few blogs about issues relating to that topic. One of the persistent problems I have relates to capitals and [Read More…]

Numbering the Old Testament: 22, 24 , 39, or more?

Over the past couple of years my work has often brought me back to the writings of Josephus, and I just wanted to describe one Biblical-related problem that arises there. I claim little originality in what I am writing here, but am rather stating and summarizing a long-running debate. (Jewish readers, please avert your eyes: [Read More…]

The King’s Son Enters Jerusalem

I have been working on European history in the later nineteenth century, and specifically the role of religious and apocalyptic ideas in shaping real-world politics in in that supposedly modern and technological age. I’ll be doing several posts on that topic in coming weeks, but let me just introduce the theme here. What I have [Read More…]

Volcanic Faith

I have been discussing the effects of global changes in weather and climate on the history of religions. Sometimes, those developments can be related to long-term climatic developments, such as the Little Ice Age, but in other instances, we see the impact of transient catastrophes. A growing number of books have traced the impact of [Read More…]

1320: Climate Change and the Demons Within

Climate change, weather, and agricultural cycles all played their part in religious history. On occasion, disasters drove paranoia and persecution – see my columns on the years around 1680. My discussion of the c.1740 era suggested how a deep crisis might create an audience open to revivalism. No less fundamentally, catastrophe could decide something as [Read More…]

1741: A Climate of Revival

In my last post, I described the extreme climatic conditions that formed the background of the Great Awakening as it developed between 1739 and 1742. To give an idea of this period as it affected one area of New England, this is an extract from a well known source, namely Joshua Coffin, A Sketch Of [Read More…]

1741: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Climate

I recently posted about understanding the social dimension to religious crises and conflicts.  Briefly, I suggested that pre-Modern societies were prone to severe dangers from crop failures, sometimes linked to climatic changes, and that these echoed through the whole society in terms of dearth and famine, disease and epidemic. At such times, people were prone [Read More…]

1680: Apocalypse and Modernity

The years between 1675 and 1685 were marked by repeated catastrophes, involving wars and revolts, dearths and plagues, and unprecedented weather conditions. Not surprisingly then, across Christian Europe, many believers imagined the fast approaching end of the existing world. It was in 1678 that the first part of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress described the simple [Read More…]

1680: Revolts in America

I have been posting on the catastrophic years around 1680, when climate-induced changes vastly increased social tensions, spawning revolts and social crises. The 1670s was also a turbulent period in North America itself, and weather played its role – as how could it not? In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon led his famous revolt in Virginia, which [Read More…]

1680: The Limits of Christendom

I recently described the tumultuous years 1675-1685, and how they shaped the future of Europe and North America. Here, I want to explore the implications for the politics of religion in this era, and for some of the stereotypes we might have. Everyone knows that religion played a vital role in the Early Modern era: [Read More…]