Over the next several weeks, I’ll be running a series of reflections stemming from a doctoral seminar on Women and Gender in Early Christianity, taught at Saint Louis University by Carolyn Osiek. These posts will proceed in (more or less) chronological order, beginning with today’s reflections on methodology.
Randi R. Warne
Introducing a “special edition” of Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Randi R. Warne (“Introduction: Gender and the Study of Religion.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 13 (2001): 141-152.) advocates gender studies as a necessary category for scholarly investigation of religion. Engaging the “one sex/flesh” model of androcentric approaches to religion—which presume the normativity of maleness and view “woman” as the “other” and deficient—Warne outlines the limits of an exclusive religious focus on men and “man.” Continue reading
This post is part of an ongoing series reflecting on the appropriate approach to and method for historical theology.
This was first great Modern shift in historical thinking, coming to recognize that human existence exists within changing space and time. While this fact was first the product of Biblical and Humanistic scholarship, Enlightenment thinking soon became the “intellectual movement under whose aegis this recognition of the fact of change came to be widely, if not universally shared.” This growing preoccupation with history engaged the changes and developments in certain Christian dogmas throughout the ages. Studies which demonstrated problems with the Church’s claims to timeless continuity eventually helped foster secularization, where Christian religion lost authority over social institutions and the sciences—including history—began to reign supreme. Continue reading
One of the problems of living in an age saturated with knowledge (or at least the claims to knowledge that circulate the portions of the internet that I seem to inhabit) is constantly running into misconceptions about the history of Christianity, especially about the Medieval Age. As we all probably know from personal experience, it’s hard to have a meaningful conversation with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you. Similarly, it’s difficult to have an intelligent conversation with someone who begins their thinking with a different set of historical assumptions than yourself. So today I’ve outlined ten of the most pervasive misconceptions about Church History as a means of helping adjust the historical basis from which have conversations about faith. These are misconceptions from every era of Church History, but you’ll note that misconceptions about the medieval period are especially prevalent.
1. Church history began with Martin Luther. Or at least, nothing good happened between the death of the Apostle John and Luther’s nailing the Ninety-Five Theses to the Wittenburg church door. The biggest misconception about Church History is that there isn’t Church History, that there haven’t been Christians throughout the world for thousands of years or that there was no “true Christianity” between the Apostles and the beginning of our preferred denomination or church. Continue reading