Tag religious history

The High Middle Ages

Steven Ozment— If experimentation and preservation characterized the early Middle Ages, self-discovery and definition marked the high Middle Ages (1000–1300). In this period Western people began to assert their identity as they came to know and impose themselves on others. Two larger developments made this possible. The first was the

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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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Protestantism in Brazil

Erika Helgen— Protestantism has a long, complex history in Brazil, full of starts and stops, growth and stagnation, political and social transformations. The earliest manifestations of Protestantism were short-lived. French and Dutch Calvinists who competed with the Catholic Portuguese for supremacy in the New World during the sixteenth and seventeenth

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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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Coming to Terms with the Catholic 1950s

Leslie Woodcock Tentler— The streets of my suburban childhood were peopled by two religious tribes—the Catholics, who were in the majority, and the Protestants, a quasi-tribe to which every non-Catholic belonged. (This was back in the 1950s, when suburban Jews generally settled among their own and “nones” were an endangered

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Encountering Eastern Orthodoxy

John A. McGuckin— Encountering Eastern Orthodoxy is not so common an event that it never risks a general level of misunderstanding. I, who am a priest of that church, was once asked by a Protestant minister at an ecumenical conference, how I could be Orthodox and not wear a kippah?

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What Can We Know about Early Christ Groups?

John Kloppenborg— A common misconception about early Christ groups is that we know quite a lot about them—their approximate size (50–100), their meeting places (private houses), and the ways they functioned financially. (I use “Christ groups” rather than “Christian groups” for a simple reason: The use of “Christian” of persons

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Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution

Yehudah Mirsky— Though he died in 1935, Rav Avraham Yitzhak Kook (Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook) still towers in contemporary Israeli politics and Jewish spirituality; neither can properly be understood without him. His controversial life and the colossal body of writing he left behind offer powerful lessons and pose difficult questions.

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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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Baptism

Peter Marshall— Imitation of Christ began with becoming a Christian. That was the easy part. It happened within days of being born, when a baby was baptized in the stone font usually found, in symbolic placement, near the entrance of the church. The ceremony involved a ritual cleansing with water,

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