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The writings of Gregory of Elvira are among the most important sources for understanding early Latin biblical exegesis as well as the culture and theology of the Spanish Church in the fourth century. The paucity of ancient sources on Gregory's episcopal career, however, renders a proper assessment of these works difficult, and he has not been well served by historians. In this essay, I propose a modified account of Gregory's life and career, arguing that the dates of his birth, ordination and death are fixed later than they should be and that his involvement with the ‘Luciferians’ has been significantly overestimated.
This paper takes the case study of a well-known but also rather poorly-regarded text, Ratpert of St Gall's Casus Sancti Galli, to examine some of the methodological issues of modern historians reading medieval historians. It is argued that features of Ratpert of St Gall's monastic history which modern readers have found frustrating or even boring were actually the result of the author's specific rhetorical strategies and ideas of history. Ratpert developed an innovative way of writing the history of a Christian community in the mortal world. Unlike other monastic historians who were developing the genre at the time and who followed more hagiographical models, Ratpert chose to put the anonymous, timeless collective of the monks at the centre of his text. His idea of history suggests a lack of effective human agency in the world, in which ups and downs forever follow one another, and contrasts this with the eternity of God.
This article challenges the contention that during the Anglo-Saxon period the English considered themselves God's specially chosen people, like the Old Testament Israelites. The texts upon which this interpretation has been based are re-analysed; particular attention is devoted to the writings of Gildas, Bede, Alcuin and Wulfstan, the prose preface of the Old English ‘Pastoral care’, and the introduction to King Alfred's legislation. The English could see themselves as a Christian people, and thus among God's chosen, but they do not appear to have claimed to be the beneficiaries of a more particularist form of divine election.
The term ‘Semipelagianism’ is usually taken to refer to fifth- and sixth-century teachings of Hadrumetum and Massilian monks. The term originated, however, with sixteenth-century Protestants who used it to describe a view of salvation by human effort in combination with grace. Theodore Beza invented the term in about 1556, applying it to the Roman Catholic view of grace and human will. The Lutheran Formula of Concord (1577) used it to designate Lutheran synergists. Initially, therefore, the term referred to contemporaneous teachings. Starting with Nicholas Sanders (1571), however, Roman Catholics introduced a shift of meaning, with fifth-century Massilians becoming the central connotation.
Abraham's encounter at Mamre (Genesis xviii.1–16) captivated the Christian imagination from the tradition's very origins. The story hints at God's self-disclosure in a triad of visitors – a theophany that evoked the presence of the Logos or even the Trinity. This article examines late antique exegetical trajectories, focusing upon the interaction between text and expositor in light of the latter's socio-historical context. For patristic exegetes, the Mamre account contained profound spiritual truth if read through the correct doctrinal lens, while presenting a foothold for heresy to the unwary. Changing visions of Trinitarian orthodoxy thus gave rise to new strategies of reading.
‘Ineffabilis et summi patris’ (1 June 1497), a little-known letter from Alexander VI to Manuel i, king of Portugal (1495–1521), plays an important role in Joel Panzer's The popes and slavery (1996). For Panzer, ‘Ineffabilis’ clarifies the voluntary nature of submission by newly-encountered peoples to Iberian monarchs. A new and complete translation of ‘Ineffabilis’ shows that it is part of a legal tradition wherein voluntary subjection was one mode of enslavement. ‘Ineffabilis’ also reflects Manuel's broader attempt to gain an advantage over Spain in light of Vasco da Gama's impending voyage to India in July 1497.
This article discusses Martin Luther's appropriation of the tradition of bridal-mysticism, and contrasts it with that of Bernard of Clairvaux. According to Bernard, through the power of divine grace, the human person and God both come to find each other objects of mutual desire. By contrast, Luther, in Freedom of a Christian (1520), uses the bridal motif to describe the divine-human relationship as one of promise and trust. In this, the Reformer both appropriates and significantly reinterprets the bridal-mystical motif in accordance with the claims of his newly-minted Reformation theology of justification through faith.
This paper examines the relationship between an English factor, John Harrison, and a Moroccan Sufi rebel, Abu Maḥilli, in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Although the two men never met, the revolt that Abu Maḥilli led against the Sa'dian rulers promoted mahdist/messianic goals which intersected with the commercial and eschatological strategies that Harrison was pursuing in Morocco.
A sense of an ending dominates accounts of African Christianity after the Vandal conquest of the 430s, not least as a result of the apparent disappearance of the Donatists in an Africa now ruled by Homoian Christians. In fact, the transfer from Donatist schism to new ‘Arian controversy’ more closely resembles the broader picture of Vandal Africa which has emerged from recent scholarship: significant continuity amid dynamic transformation. The cultural and rhetorical legacies of the Donatist schism were used by both parties (Catholic and Homoian) in Africa's new church conflict to present themselves as the true African Church.
This article examines the development of English Methodism during the formative period between 1738 and 1741, focusing upon the experiences of women, who made up the majority of Methodists both at this time and through much of the movement's history. In particular, the role that women and questions of gender played in the conflict between the Wesley brothers and the Moravian leadership in London is considered. Using accounts written by the male leaders of both groups and the women who supported them, it is argued that women's choices determined the outcome of this early battle, shaping the nascent movement in crucial ways.
Few biblical episodes have generated more theological interpretation across the centuries than that of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he appears fearfully to resist the divine will in the moments before the passion sequence is initiated. Scholars of the early modern period, however, have tended not to notice how central the scene became in the wake of Protestant and Catholic reformation developments, renewed calls for spiritual self-examination and the resurgent phenomenon of martyrdom. This article addresses this lacuna by arguing that, in the case of England, Jesus in Gethsemane not only held acute resonances across different confessions, but resulted in interpretations that perpetuated a new kind of subjectivity, and one that influenced modernity and its notions of the divided self in a state of faith and doubt.
This article is based on the sermons of the moderate Puritan minister Richard Culverwell, preached in his parish of St Margaret Moses, London, from the mid-1620s to the early 1630s, and recorded in detail by one of his leading parishioners, the fishmonger John Harper. It uses this material to discuss the reception of demanding Calvinist divinity, and to contribute to scholarly debates on the nature and impact of the Laudian regime in London. Although Culverwell continued to preach a Calvinist message, his sermons show a process of adaptation to changing times, and reveal the constraints and tensions that he was facing.
During the first half of the fourteenth century titles granted by English religious houses replaced patrimonial titles and titles granted by laymen and women as the predominant titles for unbeneficed secular clergy in most dioceses. This probably reflects the greater security an undying corporation provided for the ordaining bishop; but none of the various kinds of title as described in episcopal registers can necessarily be taken at face value and in practice ordinands were not expected to depend on the grantors of their titles for their future careers or for long-term financial support.
Despite the prominence of religious issues in the historiography of Restoration Scotland, understanding of the position of the Kirk in the Highlands remains sparse. This article seeks to address this lacuna through analysis of two related themes. Firstly, it looks at provision, discussing the Kirk's financial, material and manpower resources, as well as the challenge posed by Gaelic. Secondly, it traces the extent of Nonconformity, both Presbyterian and Roman Catholic, with a view to judging the degree of adherence to the established Episcopalian structure. It concludes that the Kirk, while facing challenges, retained a position of unrivalled religious dominance.
This article explores the relationship between religion and historiography in the work of the historian and bishop William Stubbs (1825–1901). Previous studies of Stubbs have neglected the High-Church influences which demonstrably pervaded his thought, and shaped his ideas of the English past, of the Christian purposes of history, and of the historical process itself. Recovering the confessional bent of Stubbs's approach to the past challenges assumptions about not only academic professionalisation, but also the prevalence through the Victorian period of a ‘Whig interpretation’ of history.
John Wesley required detailed records to be compiled of Methodist society members. One extant list is that of the Keighley circuit for 1763–5. This article, breaking new ground in Wesley studies, argues that symbols in this and other catalogues recorded members’ spiritual condition. These symbols are used to analyse recruitment, losses and spiritual change on a quarterly basis. They reveal that although recruitment in the circuit was high during a revival at the start of a new preaching regime, it fell quickly, many members departed and there was little overall improvement in spiritual condition. Recruitment and changes were not uniform across the circuit, pointing to local rather than regional or national influences.