British Christians Debate “Brexit”

In nine days British voters will determine if their country remains a member of the European Union, as it’s been since 1973. (If you’re not familiar with the details of this referendum, the BBC can bring you up to speed.)  Though British Christians are no longer a majority in what prime minister David Cameron insists is a “Christian country,” they may make the difference in a tightly contested campaign [Read More…]

Martin Luther King and the History of Religious Extremism

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” would make it on my list of must-reads for American cultural literacy. Written as he awaited release from a Birmingham, Alabama jail in 1963, King explained why the non-violent protests couldn’t “wait” any longer, as some moderate white Christians asked him to do. “When you are harried [Read More…]

Banning the Bible: Did It Really Happen in the Medieval World?

Yes, it did. But not the way you were taught in Sunday School. Let me explain. Last week I stood under the Tudor arch of St. Bartholomew the Great in London (unfortunately still marred by scaffolding). If it had been the 16th century, I would have looked out over an open grassy field just outside the [Read More…]

The English Bible before the Reformation

Literally steps from where the Great Fire of London began in 1666, at Thomas Farriner’s bakehouse on Pudding Lane, stands the small church of St. Magnus the Martyr. It was the second church destroyed by the fire and the most expensive church to be restored under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren. Unfortunately its pricey [Read More…]

Other Reformations

We usually refer to “the Reformation” as if the European movement of the sixteenth century was a unique phenomenon. As I have suggested, though, events fitting this model quite well have occurred repeatedly through history, both within Judaism and Christianity. What other examples might we cite? Looking globally, a Western reader might be surprised how [Read More…]

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…]

Visualizing History

Access to the Internet has transformed my perception of the value of visual images to understanding history, and also to teaching the subject. Through a resource like Google Images, it is now easy to find depictions of any era, topic or theme, with a wealth and variety that would have been quite unobtainable even through [Read More…]

THE BREAKING OF IMAGES

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…]

That’s So Dys-Evangelical …

 History presents many ironies.  One of them has to do with evangelicalism’s relationship to the task of Christian unity—or what theologians call ecumenism.  The mandate is robustly set forth in John’s Gospel 17:21, where Christ prays for his disciples and their followers: “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, [Read More…]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X