Month: May 2014

40-The Divide file | Play in new windowThis episode is titled – The Divide. I begin with a quote from a man known to scholars today as Pseudo Dionysius the Areopagite. In a commentary on the names of God he penned . . . The One is a Unity which is the unifying Source of all unity and a Super-Essential Essence, a Mind beyond the reach of mind and a Word beyond utterance, eluding Discourse, Intuition , Name, and every kind of being. It is the Universal Cause of existence while Itself existing not, for It is beyond all Being and such that It alone could give a revelation of Itself. If that sounds more like something a Hindu guru would come up with, don’t worry, you’re right. Dionysius isn’t called Pseudo for nothing. But à we’ll get to him a bit later in this episode. The late 5th & 6th Cs saw important developments in the Eastern church. It’s the time of the premier Byzantine Emperor, Justinian. But 2 contemporaries of his also made important contributions to the most important institutions of the medieval church in the West. One of them we’ve already mentioned in brief, the other we’ll devote most of an episode to; Benedict of Nursia & Pope Gregory the Great. By the end of the 6th C the unique characteristics of the Eastern and Western churches...

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39-Popes file | Play in new windowThis episode is titled – Popes. We begin with a quote from Pope Leo I and his Sermon 5 … It is true that all bishops taken singly preside each with his proper solicitude over his own flock, and know that they will have to give account for the sheep committed to them. To us [that is: the Popes], however, is committed the common care of all; and no single bishop’s administration is other than a part of our task. The history of the Popes, AKA the bishops of Rome, could easily constitute its own study & podcast. Low & behold there IS a podcast by Stephen Guerra on this very subject. You can access it via iTunes or the History podcasters website. Our treatment here will be far more summary & brief, in keeping with our usual method. Several of the factors that elevated the Church at Rome to prominence by AD 200 were still pertinent to in the 4th & 5th Cs. Theologically, while at the dawn of the 3rd C Rome claimed an over-riding apostolic authority derived from both Peter & Paul, by the 5th Paul was dropped. His historical role in the Church at Rome was forgotten in favor of the textual argument based on 3 key NT passages that seemed to assign Peter a special place as de...

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38-Barbarians at the Gates . . . and Everywhere Else file | Play in new windowThe title of this episode is “Barbarians at the Gates – & Everywhere Else” I live on the coast of Southern California in one of the most beautiful places on the planet – Ventura County. The weather is temperate all year round with an average temperature of 70 degrees. The beaches are pristine & most of the time, uncrowded. The County has several prime surf spots. But every so often, usually during the Winter, storms throw up huge waves that trash the shore. Some of these storms are local and wash down huge piles of debris from the hills that then wash up on the beach. Others are far to the south, off the coast of Mexico but they roll up waves that travel North and erode tons of sand, altering the shoreline. In the 5th & 6th Centuries, waves of barbarian invasion from the North & East swept across Europe to alter the political & cultural landscape & prime Europe for the Middle Ages. When Bishop Augustine of Hippo died in 430, the Vandals were laying siege to the city. While the Council of Chalcedon was meeting in 451, Pope Leo negotiated with the Huns to leave central Italy unmolested. European history of the 5th & 6th Cs was dominated by the movement of mostly Germanic peoples into the territory of the...

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37-Patrick file | Play in new windowThis week’s episode is titled, “Patrick” Last week’s episode was a brief review of Christianity’s arrival in Britain. We saw how the Anglo-Saxons pressed in from the eastern coast where they’d been confined by what remained of the Roman army. But when the Roman’s pulled out in 410, the Saxons quickly moved in to take their place, confining The Romano-British Christians to the western piece of the Island. It was from that shrinking enclave of faith that a spark of faith leapt the Irish Sea to land in the dry tinder of Celtic Ireland. That spark’s name was Patrick. While there’s much legend surrounding Patrick’s life, there’s scant hard historical evidence for the details of his story.  We have little idea when or where he was born, where he lived & worked, when & where he died, or other important specifics. What we do have are incidental clues & his own records, vague as they are in the aforementioned details. The record of Christianity in Ireland prior to Patrick is sketchy. A bishop named Palladius was appointed by Pope Celestine to the island, but he didn’t stay long. He left the same year Patrick arrived. Patrick was born into an affluent & religious home. His father was a deacon; his grandfather a priest. The family was likely of the Romano-British nobility & owned...

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