Reformations Then and Now

I described the religious revolution that overcame the Jewish world in the seventh century BC, and which I compared explicitly to a reformation of the sort we know very well from Early Modern Europe. The resemblances between the two eras, as portrayed by a scholar like Baruch Halpern, are often striking. Halpern, indeed, repeatedly and [Read More...]

Reformations, Plural

Over the next couple of years, we are going to be hearing a great deal about commemorating the European Reformation, which had its symbolic beginning with Martin Luther’s deeds in October 1517. In that sense, “the Reformation” was a specific series of events that occurred in Europe at a particular time, a historical moment like [Read More...]

Outliers and Iconoclasts

I have been writing about mainstream and fringe scholarship, and defending the sometimes unpopular idea of mainstream orthodoxy, or the scholarly consensus. Blogging on any religious topic invites wacky comments and responses. As one example of many, I had a commenter not long ago who asserted that most of what Christians believed about their origins [Read More...]



In a recent Times Literary Supplement, David Motadel reviewed James Noyes’s 2013 book The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam. The review, and the associated scholarship, raises important questions about how we conceive of the Reformation, how we teach it, and, significantly, how we will commemorate the [Read More...]



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...]


Some of the world’s grimmest headlines these days are coming out of North Africa, and particularly the vast country of Mali, which few Westerners would be able to locate on a map. As I described in a recent column on RealClearReligion, the country has become a happy hunting ground for brutal Islamist militias, many claiming [Read More...]