A HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL CHRISTIANITY by Jeffrey Burton Russell

A HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL CHRISTIANITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Professor Russell's concept of medieval Christianity is one in which the Christian Church -- Roman Catholicism, for practical purposes -- maintained a delicate balance between its two commitments, one to the needs of the world and the other to the needs of the soul, by a judicious mixture of ""the spirit of prophecy,"" based on inspiration, and ""the spirit of order,"" based on authority. He follows the manifestations of each of these two spirits through the events from the fourth century to the fourteenth and in the thought of the men through whom order and prophecy influenced Christianity, developed dogmatic theology, and urged reform -- Augustine of Hippo, Abelard, Aquinas, Bonaventure, etc. -- and in the acts of those who strove mightily for the establishment of an ecclesiastical hegemony based more on order than on prophecy -- the Gregorys and Innocents and Bonifaces of the papacy. This is conceptual rather than chronological history, more concerned with currents and directions than the events and dates which are, after all, only the fabric, and not the substance, of history. Perhaps from that standpoint the book could be more accurately entitled The Spirit of Medieval Christianity -- for it is not a history, in the usual sense, but an analysis of history; it is superior, and equal to Russell's earlier Dissent and Reform in the Early Middle Ages.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Crowell