December 23, 2020

José María Gil Robles, 1933.(Wikimedia Commons) In his monograph on the Spanish Civil War, Stanley Payne dedicates a chapter to what he calls “the breakdown of democracy”, wherein he narrates the unravelling of the Spanish Second Republic.  In it, he includes a number of citations from some of the key players which give significant insight into what they were witnessing and how they were processing it at the dawn of the civil war.  This post seeks to introduce and contextualize... Read more

August 9, 2020

Madonna and Child with Saints Peter and Mark and Three Venetian Procurators, by Giovanni Bellini and Workshop, 16th c. (Wikimedia Commons). In wrapping up his First Epistle, the Apostle Peter makes a cryptic reference to his location, stating that, “The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth my son Mark.”[1]  The “Mark” referenced here is the author of one of the four Gospels, and whom according to tradition, was a companion of the... Read more

August 1, 2020

Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216).(Wikimedia Commons) In his work Innocent III and the Crown of Aragon: The Limits of Papal Authority, Damian Smith shares the words that Giovanni Capocci is supposed to have said to that Pope: ‘Your words are God’s words, but your works are those of the Devil.’ As Smith notes, Innocent III (d. 1216) had his supporters and critics, and while I am unfamiliar with Capocci, he was obviously a critic.[1] The book is broadly concerned with... Read more

December 9, 2019

Inmaculada, Alonso Vázquez, Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla(Wikimedia Commons). This past summer, I was reading Jessica Coope’s monograph on the Martyrs of Córdoba.  While discussing the religious climate in the ninth-century capital of al-Andalus, she says the following: “…[B]y the ninth century a hadith was generally accepted which states that all babies are squeezed at birth by Satan (that is why they cry), but that Mary and Jesus escaped this contact with the devil; behind this tradition seems to... Read more

April 14, 2019

Saladin, 16th c. (Wikimedia Commons) In my very first blog post, “A Primer on the Crusades”, I stated that, “Saladin…seems to have been largely forgotten about in the Muslim sources until more recent times.” While recently reading Paul Cobb’s book on the Crusades from an Islamic perspective, I discovered that this view has been challenged.[1] In a footnote on the topic, Cobb writes: “The notion that modern Muslims had to be ‘reminded’ of Saladin has deep roots in the modern... Read more

March 16, 2019

(Image from Rudolph Peters. Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam (Second Edition.) Princeton. Markus Wiener Publishers, 2008. vii – 183 pgs. Bibliography. This work serves as an introduction to the Islamic doctrine of jihad (“struggle”), showing how the doctrine has been understood and explained by Muslims throughout the ages (vii.)  It is composed as a reader, consisting of a number of essays by the author as well as primary sources on the topic by Muslim authors. For the most... Read more

March 9, 2019

(Photo from Robert G. Hoyland. In God’s Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire. New York. Oxford University Press, 2015. 1-230 pgs. 3 Maps, 1 Appendix, 1 Timeline, Dramatis Personae, 2 Genealogical Tables, Bibliography, Index. The main objective of this work is to give a more balanced account of the Arab conquests than that given by 9th century Arab historians. These are faulted not so much for what they do say, but rather for what... Read more

February 25, 2019

(Wikimedia Commons) Originating in Bulgaria in the 10th century A.D., Bogomilism was a dualist heresy that spread from the Balkans to Western Europe, before finally fading away in the 14th century.[1] Its adherents believed that matter was evil, that the material world was created by the devil, which in turn lead them to deny that matter could act as a vehicle for Divine Grace in the Sacraments.[2] The heresy made its way into the Byzantine Empire by the 11th century,... Read more

January 26, 2019

Symbols of the Four Evangelists, Book of Kells, (Wikimedia Commons) This article will explore the state of the development of the Canon of the New Testament in the 4th century.  In this context, the word “Canon” signifies “the catalogue of inspired writings known as the Old and New Testaments, identified as such by the Church.”[1]  The Canon of the New Testament, defined by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent (1545-1563), includes the 27 Books that all Christians contain in their... Read more

January 12, 2019

Icon of St. Peter, St. Catherine’s Monastery, 6th c. (Wikimedia Commons) Theodore Abu Qurrah was the Melkite Bishop of Haran (Upper Mesopotamia) who lived in the 9th century A.D.  As such, he found himself living under Muslim rule.  Besides being one of the first Christian authors to write in Arabic, he was also one of the first of these to defend Christianity from Islamic writers who sought to disprove it.[1]  In the East, the three largest groups of Christians were... Read more

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