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Church in the Early Middle Ages

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Mark Gonnella

on 16 February 2018

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Transcript of Church in the Early Middle Ages

Clovis & Conversion of the Franks
Before the fall of the Roman empire, Byzantium was at one time the most important center of political, religious, cultural, and economic activity in the empire.

Constantine founded the Byzantine empire when he moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium, renaming it Constantinople

1. Constantinople was located on the tip of the Balkan Peninsula just across from Asia Minor along the narrow Bosporus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

2. The city was fortified by massive walls along the western edge to complete the boundaries of the triangular city

Unlike the Roman Republic and the Empire, Byzantium enjoyed a distinct and wholly Christian identity from its very beginning, in spite of Constantine dedicating the city both to pagan gods and the Christian God.

The Byzantines had a complex cultural identity:
Roman in their laws
Greek in their culture
oriental (Asian) in their habits.

Such a complex mixture added to Constantinople's identity as a premiere place of learning, art and architecture (e.g. Hagia Sophia)
St. John Damascene
Church in the Early Middle Ages
650-1000 AD
Byzantine Empire @ Justinian's death
Arrival of Islam
Story Begins.....
Born around 570 AD in the city of Mecca
Parents die when he was very young (raised by uncle)
Gets into the caravan trade business
Around the age of 30, dissatisfied by pagan worship, Muhammad retired to a cave around AD 612, and it was here that he allegedly encounters the angel Gabriel, who tells him that he is the herald of Allah.
The precise words of Gabriel's revelations were written down to form the Koran, which for many Muslims is the exact Word of God with no admixture of human thought.
Receives revelations for twenty-three years (610-632)
The Koran
Conversion of Europe
Monks convert rural people
Rural people become missionaries
Of the converts, some were women
Entirely pagan, the Franks settled in Gaul (modern day France) in AD 485.

Clovis remained unconvinced until military success persuaded him of God’s power
Clovis, along with three thousand of his troops, was baptized in AD 497, making the Franks the first Germanic tribe to convert.

After his conversion, Clovis united Gaul by conquering neighboring Germanic tribes, which were Christianized by the middle of the 6th century.
After death, his Frankish kingdom becomes divided amongst his sons

Their ancestors would be called the Merovingian Dynasty

Christianity arrived in Spain while it was still part of the Roman Empire
According to tradition, Spain received Christianity directly from the Apostles St. James the Greater and St. Paul, and from that time until the Muslim invasion, Christianity flourished.
At the Third Council of Toledo in AD 589, Catholicism becomes the official religion of Spain

Conversion of Spain
589 A.D.
Empire in 500 A.D.
Heir to the Frankish military, grandson of Charles Martel, and son of Pepin,
Charles "The Great" (Charlemagne) attempted to forge his own empire, referred to as the Carolingian Dynasty.
His goal was to build a truly Christian kingdom (‘Christendom’) with himself as the ideal Christian king.

To achieve this, Charlemagne mostly worked through reforming the chaotic educational system. Alcuin of York was a famous churchman to assist with the reform.
Institutes a standardized curriculum in education

Entered into an alliance with the Church to achieve his vision of a unified empire.
In 800 AD, Pope St. Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor during the Christmas day Mass
747-814 AD
Evangelists of Europe
St. Patrick
(Ireland in 5th century)
St. Augustine of Canterbury
(England in 6th century)
St. Boniface
(Germany in 8th century)
Empire 975 AD
There are three main causes for the East-West split

1. Cultural/Geographical Factors
2. Political Factors
3. Religious factors
The west did not want the emperor interfering with Church affairs
Charlemagne’s appointment as Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III in 800 A.D. upsets the east

Western bishops and the pope formed an alliance with the Franks to afford them more freedom and independence, which went against the eastern style of church-state governance.

The primary divisive religious issue between east and west was (and still is) the papacy, specifically the “Primacy of Peter.”

Touching once again on religious authority, the issue of the
a phrase added to the Nicene Creed by western bishops to underscore the divinity of Christ against Arians.

The third religious factor was iconoclasm, or the dispute against the use of Christian images and icons.
Iconoclast Controversy
An icon is a flat, two-dimensional picture of Christ, the Virgin Mary or of one of the saints.
The Iconoclastic movement was a response to malpractice, with the intention of purifying the Christian faith from any superstitious ad-ons
The first Iconoclasm (AD 717-741) perpetrated by Emperor Leo III in an effort to convert Muslims and Jews, who strongly opposed the representation of any God via an image.

In addition, Leo was dealing with the residual influence of some heretical beliefs that denied Christ's humanity. And so in an effort of unification, Leo III discouraged the use of icons.
In AD 725, Leo issued an edict declaring that all icons were forms of idolatry and should be destroyed. Both Pope Gregory II and the Patriarch of Constantinople rejected the edict, which resulted in punitive action by Leo III.

After the Pope's death, Leo doubled-down on his iconoclastic policy, destroying icons and killing hundreds of monks who defended them.

When the new pope was elected, Pope Gregory III, two councils were convened that reaffirmed the usage of icons and which excommunicated Leo III.
A monk, considered the last of the Greek Church fathers, was very important in resolving the iconoclasm controversy.

He makes the distinction between praying to the icon and praying to the one of whom the icon is a symbol, that is, God. He argues that we venerate icons, but worship only God.

Islam's "Holy Book" or "Scriptures"
Means "recitation"
Muslims believe it to be revelations of God (Allah) through the angel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad
Genre: Prophecy
114 Surahs = Chapters
Arranged by length (longest to shortest)
Other Important Books
Hadiths (sunna)
Sayings and actions of Muhammad
Become guidelines for Muslim life after Muhammad's death

Biographies of Muhammad
Basic Teachings
The montheistic and moralistic foundation of Islam is expressed in its "Five Pillars"

1. Profession of Faith (shahadah)
2. Ritual prayer (salah)
3. Almsgiving (zakat)
4. Fasting
5. Pilgrimage (hajj)
After Muhammad's death in 632 AD, there was a power struggle for who would lead the new faith beyond the Arabian peninsula

Unfortunately, dispute over who was the right successor to Muhammad caused and still causes conflict among the Muslim community
The Muslims conquered Spain in AD 711.
The Frankish chieftain, Charles Martel, at the Battle of Tours in AD 732, halted their farther expansion. As a result, the Muslims never advanced further into Europe than Spain.

Expansion Resume:
Syria in 636 AD
Jerusalem in 638 AD
Caesarea in 640
Alexandria in 642
Iraq and Persia (Iran) in 642
Carthage in 697 AD
All of Spain by 715
Time Jump!
Francis in NY
Francis in PHILLY
Within eighty years of Muhammad's death, Muslim territory already spread from the Indus River in India to parts of North Africa and southern Spain.
Islam's military expansion soon became intertwined within the message of the religion, and thus conversion was always accompanied by expansion, typically through military campaigns
Muslim forces defeated the Persians and sacked Jerusalem in AD 638
Reasons for Islamic Expansion:
Islam is an evangelical religion (da'wa)
Social conditions (poverty and drought)
Seeking a united cause (military expansion over the Christian world)

After the fall of the empire, the work of evangelization of the Germanic tribes would take many generations.
The main agents in evangelization and cultural transformation during this time were the monks, who through their monasteries and work in rural communities communicated the transformative message of the Gospel to the Germanic tribes. Two primary forces at work here:
1. Missionaries: converts in Ireland, England and Germany
2. Christian queens: who would influence their pagan husbands
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