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From Antiquity to the Reformation

A Christian View of History

By:

Harry J. Groenewold,

Professor of History, Emeritus

Harry J. Groenewold, Professor of History, Emeritus From Antiquity to the Reformation a Christian View of History Copyright June, 2010 by H.J. Groenewold
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the author and publisher. Published by: Etje & Harry Groenewold

ISBN 978-1-897544-35-8

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Dedicated To: My loving and helping wife Etje

This book is based on my History 202 lectures that the students were forced to take at 8:00 A.M. to meet their curricular requirements. But, over the years, some students enjoyed the lectures and seminars. I give this book to our children: David, Mark, Jacqueline, Jennifer and Joel. Most of them have become history majors. (I wonder why?) Our e-mail is: harm-et@telus.net

Contents
Antiquity Legacy .................................................................................1 Introduction to History ........................................................................10 The Legacy of Greece ...........................................................................16 Greek Religion .....................................................................................31 The Fall of the Empire ..........................................................................58 The Church Assumes the Lead: The Making of Latin Christianity ....62 The Barbarian Kingdoms ......................................................................69 The Carolingian Empire .......................................................................81 The Revival of Empire ..........................................................................90 The Age of Gregorian Reform..............................................................94 Innocent III (1198-1216) .....................................................................99 Feudal Monarchies: France and England ...........................................111 Italian Humanism in the Renaissance ................................................120 Renaissance Church ............................................................................138 Reformation ........................................................................................142 The Age of the Reformation ...............................................................150 The Radical Reformation ....................................................................171 The Catholic Reformation ..................................................................174 The Crisis in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries .....................178 The Reformation Era: Conclusions ....................................................202

Antiquity LegACy
Creation of city-states; urban civilization
Legal codes; bureaucracies; technical mastery; writing; mathematics. Everything was subordinated to the sacred warfare was warfare between the gods. Irrigation dependent on the favour of the godsworldview assumed that all earthly and human manifestations were copies of divine models. Each city-state belonged to a god, had been created full-blown at the beginning of time. Centre of each state consisted of a temple complex (ziggurat) was the focal point of the city. Majority were free citizens enjoying economic; legal, political privileges; most were farmers, fishermen, cattle breeders, brewers, scribes, merchants, craftsmen, actuaries; able to sell their products freely. Slavery present; gods resembled humans, had human form, mated, produced families, experienced all human emotions, including love and hate, mirrored the social fabric of humans, most of them were all-powerful or omnipotent. Humans created to serve the gods, destiny of gods uncertain. High respect for law a right ordering of/in society; most famous is the Code of Hummurabi (1792-1750 B.C.). Law gave sense of security, evil spirits invested the world, threatening at every turn, wore amulets to ward off evil spirits, divination important to learn the future, search for omens, use of astrology. Afterlife is a dreary, dismal existence in a lower world merely an empty shadow of former self.

Egypt
Its civilization lasted from about 3200 to 332 B.C. Displays a remarkable continuity, permanence, identity. Pharaoh, the god-king, played a central unifying role throughout this period. It took for granted the static character and changelessness of the universe, cosmos, humans, society, events

From Antiquity to the Reformation

were simply manifestations of fixed and recurrent patterns. Every aspect of Egyptian life was influenced by this view. Kingship a divine institution; functioned as a divine ruler with magical powers yet subject to Ma at. Translated as truth, justice, order-fundamental reality in the universe. Also represented the cosmic principle of harmony, order, security, gave sense of security, of permanence. From 1570 B.C. to time of Alexander the Great a time of international empires- Egyptian, Hittite, Chaldean, Persian. Smaller nations like the Hebrews only enjoyed brief moments of independence. It was during this time Hebrew postulated a God of universal history. Europe is still the source of all modern ideologies meet there on common cultural ground; still maintain contact with the deeper spiritual traditions underlying modern ideologies. It is crucial to retain contact with Athens (humanism) and Jerusalem (Christianity). The greatest danger to modern global culture is loss of contact-and the triumph of anti-Christian and anti-humanist ideologies. The Christian cannot avert his eyes from the world and the many conflicts cannot retreat into a private world, hoping all things will end soon Christians have an historical point of view and know its purpose/direction, even if only darkly. Belief in providence God the Ruler of the universe/and the Lord of history. God uses people, societies, and countries for ends we cannot dream or comprehend: Man proposes, God disposes This thinking is crucial, if not, history is without meaning does not lead to fatalism, affirms human responsibility. But we live by faith. GENESIS establishes God as the creator, God called his creation into being. Nothing is said about the means or mechanism of

A Christian View of History

creation. Narrative most likely written during the wilderness wanderings of the Hebrews. Religiously were quite illiterate merely a passing knowledge of Abrahams God to reward them. Genesis is an artistic account to make clear how God is relating to his creation and humans place in it. Science cannot claim that God had nothing to do with origins/to do so is to cross the boundary to scientism. Evolution as an explanation of origins is not a fact, and is not even theory. It is a biological concept to explain life. Evolution may be Gods creative method not to be confused with evolutionism which is a worldview.

Primitive Mind (before 4000 B.C.)


Sees a demarcation line between humanity and nature; sees itself as part of nature. Animism is dominant; nature infused with a divine presence. Even in the most primitive societies (prehistoric) the religious response to the world seems to be as old as humanity itself. Primitive humans think in myths. Huge gaps in our knowledge prior to 4000 B.C. our knowledge of that period very dependent on archaeology anthropology and their ancillary sciences. This prehistory often cast in an evolutionary framework/humanity gradually rising from bestial conditions to the dawn of history- we just do not know much about the transition from prehistory to the dawn of history- many archeological remains inadequate to tell us a great deal with any certainty; much remains conjectural; much remains obscure. Adam & Eve were the first humans to bear Gods image 90000100000 years ago the first modern humans appeared; from the outset humans were social creatures- origin of language unknown. Human culture has evolved through three phases; hunting and gathering, agriculture, industry.

From Antiquity to the Reformation

Primitive Society
Stress collective character they had little individual uniqueness; the collective mind dominates the individual remains anonymous. Little remains of the primitive, prehistoric societies of the material culture; cannot even understand their primitive cultures too fragmentary evidences; from the beginning humans were social. Burial practices would seem to indicate that death not seen as the end of the matter. Primitives had a definite religious sense; sacrifices to a deity. Genesis provides us with the main purposes for the existence of this world and the life of humans; not intended to be scientific or historical. During bronze and iron ages was a time of the founding of the great religions. Buddhism, Christianity, Islam are unique; contended their answers were true for all people and all times; not true of the religions of Egypt and others or that of Shinto or Mayan.

Earliest Civilizations
Egypt, Babylon, Minoan, Phoenician, Sumerian, Hittite, Persian, all are thoroughly collectivist; their cultural achievements remain anonymous, except that of the kings. They left lasting legacies: the beginning of organized societies; citystates; imperialism and its ideal; religious traditions and astrology; jurisprudence; Code of Hammurabi; trade and commerce; natural sciences; medicine. Recognize little with which we are familiar; little to identify with; we cannot identify with their polytheism; we do not share their view of humanity. Ancient civilizations very competent in practical matters; but intellectually barren very minute literary legacy in these cultures. We know nothing about the Minoans; do not know what they thought of life; know only their art; know very little about the Mycenaeans; what is also very striking about the cultures of antiquity, including Greece & Rome, is the absence of HOPE. St. Paul noted this in (Eph. 11). Remember that when you were pagans you had no hope.

A Christian View of History

Future time did not hold any promise of better things; at best, the prospect of wearisome sameness; at worst, the threat of doom. Salvation to be found in an inward state of mind, to contemplate the timeless nature of things timeless reason; timeless beauty; timeless divinity. The two traditions which have had the most profound influence in western civilization and on the modern world are the Greeks and Hebrews. Greek discovery of the human person in a way never experienced before the human person over against nature; belief in a spark of divinity in human reason, emancipating the individual, this emancipation of the individual did not mean that the Greeks had a strong interest in human history. They did not view history as a process of progressive achievements. A series of world ages marked by increasing degeneration also called cultural primitivism; a belief in a bygone Golden Age (Hesiod, Works and Days). A dismal view which excluded any real historical advance. Cosmic process as cyclical; a treadmill of eternal reoccurrence.

Greek Legacy
Standards in sculpture and architecture; western aesthetic theories still influenced by Greek ideals of beauty; political terms Greek in origin, including the concept of citizenship. Literary forms and standards derived from Greek literature, Greek mythology a storehouse for poets and other intellectuals. Feel an immediate affinity with Greeks; we believe that we think similarly were rationalists, curious about the cosmos, eagerly in pursuit of knowledge. Questions about the human condition, a sense of history, accepted the world of good and evil. Concerned with the origin, existence and meaning of life.

Hebrew Legacy
Unique in that it confessed a transcendent God stressed God the Creator, not some immanent principle of the world, God alone is

From Antiquity to the Reformation

divine; everything which is not God is created/creatures. Everything product of His will He is the holy one. Humanity is creature; a sharp separation between Creator and creature. But humanity is unique: it is created in the image of God. This definition defines the individuals relationship to God; of God calling the individual to Himself. To be truly human means to respond to Gods call to disobey is to lose ones true humanity; can only be regarded as a gift of God. Even fallen humanity remains unique; is structured as a responsible creature. Gods will in willing obedience. This God-given creatureliness gives the right/task to explore nature; to understand it but knows, at the same time, which is bound by the Word of the Creator; not to abuse his knowledge and power. Disobedience will always lead to slavery. It was a religion based on morality and justice rather than sacrifice and ritual, a complete rejection of polytheism. Offered a most powerful religious vision. Why are the Jews and their history part of western life while many cultures of antiquity merely of interest to specialized scholarship?

Summary Of Introduction:

Greeks and Hebrew have shaped western civilization, and in shaping global history, down to present day, brought with it a tension between Athens and Jerusalem; western civilization a synthesis of classical antiquity and the Judaeo-Christian heritage not always harmonious. Synthesis often assumes a common ground for interpreting reality-tension because each has a radically different view of the human and the place in reality Greek/Christian views merged during Christian era (Rome to reformation) remained entangled. The goal of Greek culture is a no more God-centred reality. A goal adopted/embraced by modern culture. It was the Greek/Hebrew literature that was of lasting importance, none of the other mystery religions had much to offer. Birth of Christianity the central drama of human history-legacy and influence truly astounding because it is a living force of hope and love and future.

A Christian View of History

Hebrews
The Hebrew belief was monotheistic a profound break with Near Eastern thought. Those gods had very human traits, required food, drink, sleep. Were not eternal; subject to fate. YAHWEH fully sovereign; subject to nothing. The source of all reality; transcended nature; nature was Gods creation, God govern all things- nature not divine all creatures belong to God, wholly dependent on the will of God. Also developed a strong sense of the individual; a creature free to make choices with a degree of sovereignty and autonomy idol worship deprive people of their freedom and dignity. No one, except God, could claim humanitys total allegiance. First concern is to pursue righteousness, not fame or fortune. Freedom meant voluntary obedience to the will of God. Prophetic literature strong emphasis on social justice Amos, Isaiah shaped a social conscience; became part of western civilization. Stressed all entitled to social justice, fair treatment, respect for neighbour, to assist the weak. A parochialism and a universalism present a sense of a chosen people; but also a concern for all humanity.

Christianity
Began with life and work of Jesus of Nazareth in the 3rd. decade (27-30 A.D.). Much of his teachings familiar to the audiences of his day; including Messianic prophesies; the doctrine of resurrection and immortality. Jewish diaspora also prepared the way for Christianity an acculturation of Jew and Greek exposure to the ideas and habits of the Hellenized world. What was the spark; its uniqueness? Personality of Jesus, His uncompromising attitude and the Acts of apostles kept his teachings alive. Pentecost descended on his followers story has all the marks of authenticity; no embroidering in the retelling- convicted of the truth preached and taught in the gospel. Next major event is Paul, a Hellenized Jew, who taught a Hellenized world. As the Apostolic generation was dying off it was decided to write the gospel. They were the written recollection of the life of Jesus. By about 200 A.D., the canon was fixed. Destruction of

From Antiquity to the Reformation

the temple (70 A.D.) led to a Christian diaspora in the Roman Empire. Christian thought from the first influenced by at least four fundamental Neoplatonic concepts: the hierarchy of spiritual beings spiritual nature of reality accessible to the human soul the return of the soul to the One belief in the goodness of being

JEWISH traditions: people of the story a strong sense of history distinctive because affirmation about God, about humanity, about the nature of the universe radical monotheists, exclusivity emphasis on covenant. JESUS understanding of Him dependent on faith- fact of His birth not in dispute; a general consensus on story of his life grew up in Bethlehem. Himself a devout Jew about 30 years- began a preaching career- after 3 years arrested and put to death from a human point of view a rather unremarkable life story. But the remarkable thing is the resurrection cannot be proved empirically only testimony is the Bible and the generation of the believing community. Can only be affirmed/confessed cannot PROVE it by tradition, historical methodology. Our perception of Him is determinative for our view of history. Is He merely a great religious teacher than Western Civ. is in no way superior to any other; if He is the Son of God, the Centre of history, has profound impact on our view of global history. He is the Redeemer of the world. If we reject, or look at a world (history) without God; all cultures are of equal value, or of no value. Christianity is a historical religion it stems from particular events in history and it asserts Gods Sovereignty over history. The need for Christianity in the first century A.D.: - Brought consolation - Material satisfaction to the poor - Meaning and purpose to life

A Christian View of History

Began as the religion of the lower classes Spiritual deprivation Search of meaning in a society breaking down Christianity provided a weltanschauung a worldview It offers answers to the problems of the day A strong sense of community reinforced by weekly meetings Mutual charities Scripture readings Common meal Christianity attractive Salvation in a world of suffering and injustice Gave life meaning and purpose beyond the materialism of Roman life Was universal; open to all Gave sense of belonging to a community; bound together in love and mutual support Appealed to all classes-spiritual equality

Christianity became a menace; threat to all worldly empires and powers. Can it be tamed as a civil religion? Then most useful; but it is hard to keep under control. It also succeeded because it was not limited to urban centres; by the fourth century had become very influential in the countryside amongst the peasants; agricultural society spread to countryside because of the monks and hermits.

intRoDuCtion to HistoRy
What is history? Is it a science? If a science can it be objective? Do facts speak for themselves? Indeed, does history speak? What is historical truth? Is it the same or different from other truths? May/can ones faith play a role in the discipline of history? Can faith be credible in the enterprise of history? Can/may a Christian historian seek to explain Gods ways to humanity To explore His mind? To explain the unfolding of history from His point of view? Very tempting for some historians I believe humanity is the proper theme of history Cannot know the mind of God there is a boundary between the Creator and the creatures. Thus a Christian historian acknowledges that he can never fully understand or explain History. We cannot always know how God is engaged in history , all explanations are always provisional, always tentative. What then is the role/task of the historian? He tries to tell a story as coherently and impartially as possible. In the telling of this story the historian interprets and presents the past. It also means that in the telling of this story the historian acknowledges judgment in History; all historians have some understanding of such concepts as: Beauty, Good, Evil, Truth, Lies, these virtues and vices are used to describe people and events. They cannot avoid using them. Also in the telling of this story the historian is very much aware of what it means to be human. All historians give some definition, however simple, as essentially choices: human beings are the products of a complex evolutionary process or are beings created by God. In the telling of the story the historian is aware that he is confronted by two basic views about the very nature of reality: One can seek to trace everything back to sheer blind chance, fate, fortune and destiny. OR

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