ABOLISHING THE LEGEND

Scale

In a number of recent posts, I have argued that long after the time of Constantine, Christians around the world continued to use and cherish alternative scriptures, some teaching ideas far removed from the established churches. Having said that, a time did come when many of those texts really were suppressed, more thoroughly than the [Read More...]

THE OTHER OLD TESTAMENT

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Throughout their history, Christians have used the Old Testament as well as the New. But their Old Testament references often derived from a much wider body of texts that we know under that name. Apart from the canonical books, many other works circulated purporting to expand on the stories found in the Hebrew Bible, and [Read More...]

DUALISTS AND PROTESTANTS

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I have recently been posting about Dualist versions of Christianity, and their incredibly long-lasting influence across Europe and the Middle East. But whatever happened to Dualism? The answer is mysterious, but might conceivably tell us something about the origins of the European Reformation. That disappearance was near-total. In the Christian world at least, Manichaeanism was [Read More...]

THE SECRET SUPPER

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This post concerns a book written some eight hundred years out of its proper time, and one with an evocative history. Any acquaintance with early Christian history means encountering the many alternative gospels that circulated so widely in the first few centuries. Commonly, these works involved secret discourses and conversations that Jesus shared with his [Read More...]

THE HERETICS’ BIBLE

I recently posted about the enduring influence of Dualist versions of Christianity, the idea that the material world is a diabolic creation, from which Christ came to free us. These views were widespread and enduring in the early and medieval church, and flourished somewhere in all eras prior to the fourteenth century – even later in [Read More...]

DUALIST CHRISTIANITY

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I have been writing on the persistence of alternative forms of Christianity through the long Middle Ages. In my next couple of postings, I will be focusing on one remarkable and powerful movement that flourished in South-Eastern Europe, namely the Bogomils, and their truly ancient ideas. When we look at the alternative Christian worlds of [Read More...]

SURVIVING GOSPELS

I recently argued that, contrary to our usual assumptions, many of the old Gnostic gospels remained accessible long after the Roman Empire accepted orthodox Christianity. However much church authorities might have wanted to eliminate them, they circulated quite widely. One puzzling piece of evidence comes from Nicephorus, the ninth century Patriarch of Constantinople. Appended to [Read More...]

REAL HERETICS

You may remember from earlier posts that I was eagerly anticipating R. I. Moore’s book The War on Heresy, which I have now finally read and reviewed for Church History. The review won’t be out till next year but here is a quick summary of my impressions. The whole story raises critical issues for Christian [Read More...]

A REAL LOST GOSPEL?

In a recent posting, I discussed the medieval heretical movement known variously as the Cathars or Albigensians, who flourished in southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries until they were wiped out in an extraordinarily violent persecution. (If anyone ever tells you that you can’t kill an idea, suggest that they go find an [Read More...]

THE WAR ON HERESY

I am not foolish enough to review a book before reading it, so please treat this as a pre-review. I am just beginning to read what looks like a really important book on Christian history, and I want to define the points I hope to get out of it. The book in question is R. [Read More...]