Tag Christianity

Voting about God at the Council of Nicaea

Ramsay MacMullen— At Nicaea in AD 325 some 200 bishops assembled. The total is not certain: perhaps a little below that figure, probably a little above it. Not all who attended signed, as was not unusual at the end of councils nor surprising at this one, given its special difficulties.

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Shifting Paradigms in the Study of Christian Origins

Matt Jackson-McCabe— One of the more intriguing questions in the history of religion is how the Jewish apostles of a first-century Jewish messiah came to be considered the authoritative embodiment of values fundamentally other than Jewish. Making sense of Christianity’s relationship to Judaism has been a problem ever since the

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A Black Christian Experience

Willie James Jennings— Mary, my mother, taught me to respect the dirt. Like many black women from the South, she knew the earth like she knew her own soul. I came along late. I was the last of her eleven children, born not of the South but of the North,

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The Sacrifice at Calvary

Terry Eagleton— Walter Benjamin’s theory of tragedy in his The Origin of German Tragic Drama has some affinities with the Christian view of Calvary. Tragedy for Benjamin is essentially sacrifice, but of a peculiarly doubled kind: if it propitiates the gods under ancient law, it also inaugurates a revolutionary new

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Material Culture and the Ethnicity of Non-Jewish Christians

Christopher Stroup— The cities of the Roman Empire were filled with gods and the citizens who honored them with festivals, processions, buildings, and benefactions. The followers of Jesus—later called Christians—lived and moved in these cities, navigating avenues lined with statues honoring various deities, structuring their days and months around the

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The Gospel of Matthew: Within and Without Judaism

John Kampen— Matthew is usually regarded as the “most Jewish gospel” since it bears evidence of more direct and more informed interaction with texts, concepts, and institutions usually identified with Jewish life at the conclusion of the first century CE. While the noted connections have not always been well-informed by

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Examining the Secular Age

Nicholas Wolterstorff— Recently I dipped once again into Charles Taylor’s massive A Secular Age, and one of the themes he develops there led me to reflect on the implications of that theme for the place of religion in the university—by which I do not mean the place of the study

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What happened after the Crusades?

Christopher Tyerman— We all know about the Crusades, don’t we? They were wars fought by western European Christians against Muslim control of Jerusalem and the Holy Land of Palestine. They began in 1095, when Pope Urban II summoned the knights of Christendom to undertake a war that would earn its

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Rethinking the History of Religious Freedom

Robert Louis Wilken— In the Supreme Court case Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 1940, that upheld compulsory pledging of allegiance to the U.S. flag in schools, Justice Felix Frankfurter, writing for the majority, said: “Centuries of strife over the erection of particular dogmas as exclusive or all-comprehending faiths led to

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On Easter and Resurrection

Candida Moss— At Easter, as almost everyone knows, Christians celebrate and think about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus is a foundational moment in Christian history that is proclaimed as part of the Creed, but it is also the model for the afterlife expectations of everyone

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