Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 




Christianity


 


Filippino Lippi



 


see also:


THE BIBLE

*

The Bible illustrations by



Julius von Carolsfeld "Das Buch der Bucher in Bildeb"


Gustave Dore


William Blak
e "The Book of Job"

 

 

 
 

 



Annunciation

 


Fra Filippo Lippi

 


Fra Filippo Lippi

 


Fra Filippo Lippi

 


Fra Filippo Lippi

 


28Fra Filippo Lippi

 


Fra Filippo Lippi

 


The history of
Christianity

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Part IV


 

The church and its history » The history of Christianity » The alliance between church and empire
Constantine the Great, declared emperor at York, Britain (306), converted to Christianity, convened the Council of Arles (314), became sole emperor (324), virtually presided over the ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325), founded the city of Constantinople (330), and died in 337. In the 4th century he was regarded as the great revolutionary, especially in religion. He did not make Christianity the religion of the empire, but he granted important concessions to the church and its bishops, and his conversion encouraged other Roman citizens to become Christian. His foundation of Constantinople (conceived to be the new Rome) as a Christian city untainted by pagan religion profoundly affected the future political and ecclesiastical structure of the empire and the church. Relations with old Rome, whether in matters of church or of state, were not to be cordial.

Constantine completely altered the relationship between the church and the imperial government, thereby beginning a process that eventually made Christianity the official religion of the empire. Many new converts were won, including those who converted only with the hope of advancing their careers. The church was also faced by a new form of governmental interference when Constantine presided at the Council of Nicaea, which addressed the Arian controversy (a debate between Arius and Athanasius and their followers over the nature of the Son of God); the council provided the definition of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son that is still accepted by most Christians today. Although Nicaea spoke against Arianism, which maintained that the Son is a created being and not equal to God the Father, Constantine in later life leaned toward it, and his successor, Constantius II, was openly Arian. Despite this turmoil, and the outright hostility toward Christianity of the emperor Julian the Apostate (reigned 361–363), the church survived, and the adherents of the traditional Roman religion relapsed into passive resistance. The quietly mounting pressure against paganism in the 4th century culminated in the decrees of Emperor Theodosius I (reigned 379–395), who made Catholic Christianity the official religion of the empire and who closed many pagan temples. By the end of the 4th century, therefore, Christianity had been transformed from a persecuted sect to the dominant faith of the empire, in the process becoming intertwined with the imperial government.

The link between church and state was expressed in the civil dignity and insignia granted to bishops, who also began to be entrusted with ambassadorial roles. Constantine himself appointed bishops, and he and his successors convened councils of bishops to address important matters of the faith. By 400 the patriarch of Constantinople (to his avowed embarrassment) enjoyed precedence at court before all civil officials. The emperors issued a number of rulings that afforded greater privilege and responsibility to the bishops, enhancing their position in both church and society. The close relations between the empire and the church in the 4th century were reflected in the writings of Ambrose (bishop of Milan, 374–397), who used “Roman” and “Christian” almost as synonyms. After Theodosius ordered the massacre of the citizens of Thessalonica, however, Ambrose demanded that the emperor undergo penance, thereby enforcing upon Theodosius submission to the church as its son, not its master.

A new movement took shape in the late 3rd and 4th centuries that was a response to both the tragedy of the final persecutions and to the triumph of Constantine’s conversion. Monasticism began in the Egyptian desert in the 3rd century in response to contemporary social conditions, but it had scriptural roots and reflected the attraction of the ascetic life that had long been part of the Christian and philosophical traditions. The first of the Christian monks was St. Anthony (251–356). Communal, or cenobitic, monasticism was first organized by St. Pachomius (c. 290–346), who also composed the first monastic rule. Basil, bishop of Caesarea Cappadociae (370–379), rejected the hermetic ideal, insisting on communities with a rule safeguarding the bishop’s authority and with concrete acts of service to perform (e.g., hospital work and teaching).

Monasticism quickly spread to the West, where it was decisively shaped by John Cassian of Marseille (c. 360–435) and Benedict of Nursia (c. 480–c. 547), recognized as the father of Western monasticism. Benedict’s Rule, which eventually became predominant, was noted for its humanity and its balance of prayer and work. Because the manual work of monks often consisted of the copying of manuscripts, the monasteries became a great centre of cultural life for centuries. Benedict’s contemporary Cassiodorus (c. 490–c. 585) had the works of classical authors copied (e.g., Cicero and Quintilian) as well as Bibles and the works of the early Church Fathers.

The church was significantly slow to undertake missionary work beyond the frontiers of the empire. The Goth Ulfilas converted the Goths to Arian Christianity (c. 340–350) and translated the Bible from Greek to Gothic—omitting, as unsuitable, warlike passages of the Old Testament. The Goths passed their Arian faith on to other Germanic tribes, such as the Vandals. (Sometime between 496 and 508 the Franks, under their great king Clovis, became the first of the Germanic peoples to convert to Catholic Christianity; they were soon followed by the Visigoths.) In the 5th century the Western provinces were overrun by Goths, Vandals, and Huns, and the imperial succession was ended when a German leader, Odoacer, decided to rule without an emperor (476). The position of the papacy was enhanced by the decline of state power, and this prepared the way for the popes’ temporal sovereignty over parts of Italy (which they retained from the 7th to the 19th century).


The church and its history » The history of Christianity » Theological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries » Western controversies
Until about 250, most Western Christian leaders (e.g., Irenaeus and Hippolytus) spoke Greek, not Latin. The main Latin theology came primarily from such figures as Tertullian and Cyprian (bishop of Carthage, 248–258) rather than from any figure in Rome. Tertullian wrote Against Praxeas, in which he discussed the doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ. But in 251 Novatian’s schism at Rome diverted interest away from speculative theology to juridical questions about the membership of the church and the validity of sacraments. Differences of opinion over similar issues in the 4th century led to a schism between Rome and the churches of North Africa. The Donatist controversy, which raised questions about the validity of the sacraments, dominated all North African church life. Cyprian and the Donatists said that the validity of the sacraments depended on the worthiness of the minister; Rome and North African Christians in communion with Rome said that it did not, because the sacraments received their validity from Christ, not man. Much of the great theologian Augustine’s energies as bishop of Hippo (from 396 to 430) went into trying to settle the Donatist issue, in which he finally despaired of rational argument and reluctantly came to justify the use of limited coercion.

The other major controversy of the Western Church was a more confused issue, namely, whether faith is acquired through divine grace or human freedom. In response to his perception of the teachings of the British monk Pelagius, Augustine ascribed all credit to God. Pelagius, however, protested that Augustine was destroying human responsibility and denying the capacity of humans to do what God commands. Augustine, in turn, responded in a series of treatises against Pelagius and his disciple Julian of Eclanum. Pelagianism was later condemned at the councils of Carthage (416), Milevis (416), and Ephesus (431) and by two bishops of Rome, Innocent I in 416 and Honorius I in 418.

The church and its history » The history of Christianity » Theological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries » Eastern controversies
In the Greek East, the 4th century was dominated by the controversy over the position of Arius, an Alexandrian presbyter (c. 250–336), that the incarnate Lord—who was born, wept, suffered, and died—could not be one with the transcendent first cause of creation—who is beyond all suffering. The Council of Nicaea (325) condemned Arianism and affirmed the Son of God to be identical in essence with the Father. Because this formula included no safeguard against Monarchianism, a long controversy followed, especially after Constantine’s death (337). Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria (reigned 328–373), fought zealously against Arianism in the East and owed much to Rome’s support, which only added to the tensions between East and West. These tensions survived the settlement of the Arian dispute in 381, when the Council of Constantinople (381) proclaimed Catholic Christianity the official religion of the empire, thus eliminating Arianism in the East, but also asserted Constantinople, as the new Rome, to be the second see of Christendom. This assertion was unwelcome to Alexandria, traditionally the second city of the empire, and to Rome, because it implied that the dignity of a bishop depended on the secular standing of his city. Rivalry between Alexandria and Constantinople led to the fall of John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople (reigned 398–404), when he appeared to support Egyptian monks who admired the controversial theology of Origen. It became a major feature of the emerging Christological debate (the controversy over the nature of Christ).

The Christological controversy stemmed from the rival doctrines of Apollinaris of Laodicea (flourished 360–380) and Theodore of Mopsuestia (c. 350–428), representatives of the rival schools of Alexandria and Antioch, respectively. At the Council of Ephesus (431), led by Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria (reigned 412–444), an extreme Antiochene Christology—taught by Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople—was condemned for saying that the man Jesus is an independent person beside the divine Word and that therefore Mary, the mother of Jesus, may not properly be called mother of God (Greek theotokos, or “God-bearer”). Cyril’s formula was “one nature of the Word incarnate.” A reaction led by Pope Leo I (reigned 440–461) against this one-nature (Monophysite) doctrine culminated in the Council of Chalcedon (451), which affirmed Christ to be two natures in one person (hypostasis). Thus, the Council of Chalcedon alienated Monophysite believers in Egypt and Syria.

During the next 250 years the Byzantine emperors and patriarchs desperately sought to reconcile the Monophysites. Three successive attempts failed: (1) under the emperor Zeno (482) the Henotikon (union formula) offended Rome by suggesting that Monophysite criticism of Chalcedon might be justified; (2) under the emperor Justinian the Chalcedonian definition was glossed by condemning the “Three Chapters,” which includes the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, and Ibas, all strong critics of Cyril of Alexandria’s theology and of Monophysitism; the Syrian Monophysite Jacob Baradaeus reacted to this by creating a rival Monophysite episcopate and permanent schism; (3) under the emperor Heraclius (reigned 610–641) the Chalcedonians invited the Monophysites to reunite under the formula that Christ had two natures but only one will (Monothelitism), but this reconciled almost no Monophysites and created divisions among the Chalcedonians themselves. Chalcedon’s “two natures” continues to be rejected by the Armenian Apostolic Church, Coptic Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (Syrian Jacobites).


The church and its history » The history of Christianity » Liturgy and the arts after Constantine » New forms of worship
Along with these developments in higher theology, various forms of religious devotion emerged. One of the more important was the “cult of the saints,” the public veneration of saints and its related shrines and rituals. Shrines were erected in honour of local holy men and women and those who had suffered for the faith. The saints were recognized as the special representatives of God and were thought to be vehicles for his miraculous power. The shrines became the focus of religious pilgrimage, and the relics of the saints were highly valued.

The veneration of martyrs and the growth of pilgrimages stimulated liturgical elaboration. Great centres (Jerusalem and Rome, in particular) became models for others, which encouraged regional standardization and cross-fertilization. Though the pattern of the eucharistic liturgy was settled by the 4th century, there were many variant forms, especially of the central prayer called by the Greeks anaphora (“offering”) and by the Latins canon (“prescribed form”). Liturgical prayers of Basil of Caesarea became widely influential in the East. Later, liturgies were ascribed to local saints: Jerusalem’s to St. James, Alexandria’s to St. Mark, and Constantinople’s to John Chrysostom. The spirit of Greek liturgies encouraged rich and imaginative prose. Latin style was restrained, with epigrammatic antitheses; and the Roman Church changed from Greek to Latin about ad 370. The Canon of the Latin mass as used in the 6th century was already close to the form it has since retained.

Music also became elaborate, with antiphonal psalm chanting. Some reaction came from those who believed that the music was obscuring the words. Both Athanasius of Alexandria and Augustine defended music on the condition that the sense of the words remained primary in importance. The Latin theologians Ambrose of Milan, Prudentius, and Venantius Fortunatus provided Latin hymns of distinction. The ascription of the Roman chants (Gregorian) to Pope Gregory I the Great was first made in the 9th century. In the Greek East in the time of Justinian, Romanos Melodos created the kontakion, a long poetic homily.

The development of church architecture was stimulated by Constantine’s great buildings at Jerusalem and Rome, and his example as a church-builder was emulated by his successors, most notably by Justinian in the 6th century. The exteriors of these churches remained simple, but inside they were richly ornamented with marble and mosaic, the decoration being arranged on a coherent plan to represent the angels and saints in heaven with whom the church on earth was joining for worship. An enormous number of churches built in and after the 4th century have been excavated. The outstanding buildings that survive largely intact, Hagia Sophia at Constantinople (now Istanbul) and San Vitale at Ravenna in Italy, belong to the age of Justinian.

The veneration of saints led to the production of a specific category of literature known as hagiography, which told the story of a saint’s life. Hagiography was not a biography in the modern sense but was a work of religious devotion that portrayed the saint as a model of Christian virtue. If available, authentic tradition would be used, but hagiographers also drew from a stock of conventional tales about earlier saints that were generally intended to convey a moral lesson. Saints’ lives also contained accounts of the miracles performed by the saints in their lifetimes and at their shrines after their deaths. The lives of saints belong to the poetry of the Middle Ages but are important to the historian as documents of social and religious history.

The church and its history » The history of Christianity » Liturgy and the arts after Constantine » Historical and polemical writing
The first church historian was Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea in the 4th century, who collected records up to the reign of Constantine. He wrote four historical works, including a life of Constantine and the Ecclesiastical History, his most important contribution. His history was translated and continued in Latin by Tyrannius Rufinus of Aquileia. The history of the church from Constantine to about 430 was continued by three Greek historians: Socrates Scholasticus, Sozomen, and Theodoret (whose works were adapted for the Latin world by Cassiodorus). Ecclesiastical history from 431 to 594 was chronicled by Evagrius Scholasticus. The consequences of Chalcedon as interpreted by Monophysite historians were recorded by Timothy Aelurus, Zacharias Scholasticus, and John of Nikiu.

The monastic movement produced its own special literature, especially the classic Life of St. Antony by Athanasius, the collections of sayings of the Desert Fathers, John Climacus’s Heavenly Ladder, and John Moschus’s Spiritual Meadow. Along with these works, monastic rules—most notably the Rule of the Master (an anonymous monastic rule that influenced Benedict of Nursia), the rules of Basil, and the Rule of Benedict—are unique contributions to the tradition of Christian literature that offer insight into religious beliefs and practices.

The Arian and Christological controversies produced important polemical writers—Athanasius, the three Cappadocian Fathers (Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa), Cyril of Alexandria, and Theodoret. After 500, Monophysite theology had eminent figures—Severus of Antioch and the Alexandrian grammarian John Philoponus, who was also a commentator on Aristotle. But much theology was non-polemical—e.g., catechesis and biblical commentaries. In the 6th century, “chains” (catenae) began to be produced in which the reader was given a summary of the exegesis of a succession of commentators on each verse.

In the West, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, and, above all, the incomparable scholar Jerome (translator of the standard Latin Bible, or Vulgate) gave Latin theology confidence. The greatest of the ancient Western theologians, and one of the most important in all of Christian history, was Augustine. Author of sermons, letters, polemical texts, and other works, he adapted Platonic thought to Christian ideas and created a theological system of lasting power. His most influential works include Confessions, an autobiography and confession of faith, and his The City of God, a monumental work of apology, theology, and Christian philosophy of history. Finally, in the 6th century, Gregory I built upon the legacy of Augustine and the other 4th-century fathers. Gregory’s works of moral theology, pastoral care, and hagiography greatly influenced medieval spirituality.


The church and its history » The history of Christianity » Political relations between East and West
The old tensions between East and West were sharpened by the quarrels about Chalcedon. In Rome every concession made by Constantinople toward the Monophysites increased the distrust. Justinian’s condemnation of the Three Chapters (Fifth Council, Constantinople, 553) was forced on a reluctant West, parts of which had been brought back under imperial control by Justinian’s conquests. From the time of Pope Gregory I the papacy—encouraged by the successful mission to the Anglo-Saxons—was looking as much to the Western kingdoms as to Byzantium.

The growing division between East and West was reinforced by developments outside the church itself. In the 7th century the Eastern Empire fought for its life, first against the Persians and then the Arabs, and the Balkans were occupied by the Slavs. The rise of Islam had an especially profound impact on the church and East-West relations. The Arab military conquest broke upon the Byzantine Empire in 634, just as it was exhausted after defeating Persia. The will to resist was wholly absent. Moreover, the provinces initially overrun, Syria (636) and Egypt (641), were already alienated from the Byzantine government that was persecuting Monophysites in those areas. In 678 and again in 718, the Arabs were at the walls of Constantinople. The Monophysite Copts in Egypt and Syrian Jacobites (followers of Jacob Baradaeus) soon found that they enjoyed greater toleration under Muslim Arabs than under Chalcedonian Byzantines. Christian territory from the Holy Land to Spain was conquered by the forces of Islam, and many of the inhabitants of this region eventually converted to the new faith.

The submergence of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem under Muslim rule left the patriarch of Constantinople with enhanced authority, which altered the internal dynamic of the Christian community. The attempts of the Byzantine emperors to force the papacy to accept the Monothelite (one-will) compromise produced a martyr pope, Martin (reigned 649–655); the story of his tortures did nothing to make Rome love the Byzantines. When the Monothelite heresy was finally rejected at the Sixth Council (Constantinople, 680–681), the imprudent pope Honorius (reigned 625–638), who had supported Monothelitism, was expressly condemned, which distressed Roman defenders of papal prerogatives. Greek hostility to the West became explicit in the canons of a council held at Constantinople (Quinisext, 692) that claimed to have ecumenical status but was not recognized in Rome.

The divisions between East and West were heightened by developments in both the Latin and the Greek churches. In 726, the emperor Leo III the Isaurian, after his successful defense against the Islamic advance, introduced a policy of iconoclasm (destruction of images) to the Byzantine church that was continued and expanded by his son Constantine V. For much of the rest of the century, the empire was absorbed in the Iconoclastic Controversy, which became a struggle not only to keep icons, a traditional focus of religious veneration, but also to combat the subjection of the church to the will of the emperor. The greatest champion of icons was John of Damascus, an Arab monk in Muslim Palestine, who was the author of an encyclopaedic compendium of logic and theology. Within the empire, Theodore Studites, abbot of the Studium (monastery) near Constantinople, vigorously attacked iconoclasm; he also led a revival of monasticism and stressed the importance of copying manuscripts. His ideals passed to the monastic houses that began to appear on Mount Athos from 963 onward.

The imperial attack on images was severely criticized in the West. Yet, after the Greek iconoclasts were condemned at the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicaea, 787), the bishops of the Frankish king Charlemagne, who were not invited to Nicaea and learned of its decrees from a faulty translation, censured the decision at the synod of Frankfurt in Germany (794). Icons were differently evaluated in the Western churches, where holy pictures were viewed as devotional aids, not—as was the case in the East—virtually sacramental media of salvation. The bishops of the Frankish church also added to the creed the Filioque (Latin: “and from the Son”) clause, which stated that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son. The insertion was originally rejected at Rome and Constantinople; it would, however, be adopted at Rome by the 11th century.

The hostility between the iconoclast emperors and the popes encouraged the 8th-century popes to seek a protector. This was provided by the rise of Charles Martel (mayor of the palace 715–741) and the Carolingian Franks. The Frankish kings guarded Western Church interests, and the papal–Frankish alliance reached its climax in the papal coronation of Charlemagne as the first emperor at Rome on Christmas Day, 800—laying the foundation for the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted until 1806. Charlemagne exercised immense authority over the Western Church, and the revival of church life produced controversies about predestination (Gottschalk, John Scotus Erigena, Hincmar of Reims) and the Eucharist (Paschasius Radbertus, Ratramnus, Rabanus Maurus). The Christological controversy was revived over the Adoptionist teachings of Felix of Urgel and Elipandus of Toledo, a dispute as to whether Christ was adopted to be Son of God.

Although Carolingian fortunes waned later in the 9th century, the Carolingians continued to assert their right to protect the church and papacy. In the 10th century, however, the Ottonian dynasty in Germany established a new imperial line and became the preeminent power in Latin Europe. The Ottos, accustomed to the tradition in which great landowners built and owned the churches on their estates as private property, treated Rome and all important sees in this spirit. Bishops were appointed on royal nomination and forbidden to appeal to Rome.


The church and its history » The history of Christianity » Literature and art of the “Dark Ages”
The Monothelite and iconoclastic controversies produced herculean theological endeavours: the criticism of Monothelitism by the monk Maximus the Confessor (580–662) was based upon subtle and very careful considerations of the implications of Chalcedon. The great opponents of iconoclasm, John of Damascus and Theodore Studites, also composed hymns and other theological treatises. Greek mystical theology had an outstanding representative in Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022), abbot of St. Mamas at Constantinople, whose doctrines about light visions anticipated the hesychasm (quietistic prayer methods) of Gregory Palamas in the 14th century. But the most learned theologian of the age was beyond doubt the patriarch Photius (see below The Photian schism).

Iconoclasm was not an anti-intellectual, anti-art movement. The iconoclasts everywhere replaced figures with the cross or with exquisite patterns. The ending of iconoclasm in 843 (the restoration of orthodoxy), however, liberated the artists adept in mosaic and fresco to portray figures once again, spurring a new revival of decoration. Music also became more elaborate; the kontakion was replaced by the kanon, a cycle of nine odes, each of six to nine stanzas and with a different melody. The kanon gave more scope to the musicians by providing greater variety. Byzantine hymns were classified according to their mode, and the mode changed each week. Besides John of Damascus and Theodore Studites, the great hymn writers of this period were Cosmas of Jerusalem and Joseph of Studium.

The so-called Dark Ages in the West produced virtually no sculpture or painting—with the notable exception of illuminated manuscripts, of which marvelous specimens were made (e.g., the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels). The Irish and Anglo-Saxon monks did not construct noble buildings but knew how to write and to illustrate a book. In the age of Charlemagne exquisite calligraphy was continued (e.g., the Utrecht Psalter), as was the composition of illuminated manuscripts (e.g. the Coronation Gospels and the Codex aureus). Manuscripts during the Carolingian period were often bound with covers of intricate ivory and metalwork of superb finesse. Great buildings, notably the palace complex at Aachen, also began to emerge, partly based on Byzantine models, such as the churches at Ravenna. The Ottonian renaissance in Germany encouraged even more confidently the erection of church buildings, producing such masterpieces as the surviving cathedrals at Hildesheim and Spires and setting out a characteristically German style of architecture; it also continued the Carolingian tradition of manuscript illumination.

The barbarian kingdoms soon produced their own Christian literature: Gregory of Tours wrote the history of the Franks, Isidore of Sevilla that of the Visigoths, and Cassiodorus that of the Ostrogoths. Isidore, utilizing his vast reading, compiled encyclopaedias on everything from liturgical ceremonies to the natural sciences. The outstanding figure of this incipient “nationalist” movement was the English monk Bede, whose Ecclesiastical History of the English People was completed in 731 and whose exegetical works came to stand beside Augustine and Gregory I as indispensable for the medieval student. Carolingian authors compiled a broad range of literary works, including sermons, biblical commentaries, works on the liturgy and canon law, and theological treatises on the Eucharist, predestination, and other topics.


The church and its history » The history of Christianity » Missions and monasticism
The Arian barbarians soon became Catholics, including, by 700, even the Lombards in northern Italy. There remained immense areas of Europe, however, to which the Gospel had not yet been brought. Gregory I evangelized the Anglo-Saxons, who in turn sent missionaries to northwestern Europe—Wilfrid and Willibrord to what is now The Netherlands, and Boniface to Hesse, Thuringia, and Bavaria. In consequence of Boniface’s work in Germany in the 8th century, a mission to Scandinavia was initiated by Ansgar (801–865), and the mission reached Iceland by 996. In the 10th century the mission from Germany moved eastward to Bohemia, to the Magyars, and (from 966) to the Poles. By 1050 most of Europe was under Christian influence with the exception of Muslim Spain.

In the Byzantine sphere, early missions went to the Hunnish tribesmen north of the Caucasus. The Nestorians, entrenched in Persia, carried the Gospel to the Turkmen and across Central Asia to China. In the 9th century the mission to the Slavs began with the work of Cyril and Methodius, who created a Slavonic alphabet and translated the Bible into the Slavonic language. Although their labours in Moravia were undermined by Frankish clergy, it was their achievement that made possible the faith and medieval culture of both Russia and Serbia.

The Benedictine Rule—initiated by Benedict of Nursia—succeeded in the West because of its simplicity and restraint; more formidable alternatives were available in the 6th century. By 800, abbeys existed throughout western Europe, and the observance of Benedict’s Rule was fostered by Charlemagne and, especially, his son Louis the Pious. These houses, such as Bede’s monastery at Jarrow (England) or the foundations of Columban (c. 543–615) at Luxeuil (France) and Bobbio (Italy), which followed Columban’s Rule and not Benedict’s, became centres of study and made possible the Carolingian renaissance of learning. In this renaissance the 8th-century English scholar Alcuin, an heir to the tradition of Bede, and his monastery at Tours occupy the chief place. Around monasteries and cathedrals, schools were created to teach acceptable Latin, to write careful manuscripts, and to study not only the Bible and writings of the Church Fathers but also science. Scribes developed the beautiful script that was known as Carolingian minuscule. Although the Carolingian renaissance was short-lived, it laid the foundation for later cultural and intellectual growth.

Monasticism in 9th-century Byzantium was centred upon the Studites, who came to be a faction against the court. A remoter and otherworldly asceticism developed with the foundation of monasteries on Mount Athos (Greece) from 963 onward. A distinctive feature of Athonite monasticism was that nothing female was to be allowed on the peninsula.


The church and its history » The history of Christianity » The Photian schism and the great East–West schism » The Photian schism
The end of iconoclasm (843) left a legacy of faction. Ignatius, patriarch of Constantinople intermittently from 847 to 877, was exiled by the government in 858 and replaced by Photius, a scholarly layman who was head of the imperial chancery—he was elected patriarch and ordained within six days. Ignatius’ supporters dissuaded Pope Nicholas I (reigned 858–867) from recognizing Photius. Nicholas was angered by Byzantine missions among the Bulgars, whom he regarded as belonging to his sphere. When Nicholas wrote to the Bulgars attacking Greek practices, Photius replied by accusing the West of heretically altering the creed in saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son (Filioque). He declared Pope Nicholas deposed (867), but his position was not strong enough for such imprudence.

A new emperor, Basil the Macedonian, reinstated Ignatius; and in 869 Nicholas’ successor, Adrian II (reigned 867–872), condemned Photius and sent legates to Constantinople to extort submission to papal supremacy from the Greeks. The Greeks resented the papal demands, and when Ignatius died in 877 Photius quietly became patriarch again. Rome (at that moment needing Byzantine military support against Muslims in Sicily and southern Italy) reluctantly agreed to recognize Photius, but on the condition of an apology and of the withdrawal of Greek missions to the Bulgars. Photius acknowledged Rome as the first see of Christendom, discreetly said nothing explicitly against the Filioque clause, and agreed to the provision that the Bulgars could be put under Roman jurisdiction providing that Greek missions were allowed to continue.

The main issue in the Photian schism was whether Rome possessed monarchical power of jurisdiction over all churches (as Nicholas and Adrian held), or whether Rome was the senior of five semi-independent patriarchates (as Photius and the Greeks thought) and therefore could not canonically interfere with the internal affairs of another patriarchate.

The church and its history » The history of Christianity » The Photian schism and the great East–West schism » The great East-West schism
The mutual distrust shown in the time of Photius erupted again in the middle of the 11th century after papal enforcement of Latin customs upon Greeks in southern Italy. The patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, closed Latin churches in Constantinople as a reprisal. Cardinal Humbert came from Italy to protest, was accorded an icy reception, and left a bull of excommunication (July 16, 1054) on the altar of the great church of Hagia Sophia. The bull anathematized (condemned) Michael Cerularius, the Greek doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the marriage of Greek priests, and the Greek use of leavened bread for the Eucharist.

At the time, the breach was treated as a minor storm in which both sides had behaved with some arrogance. As Greeks and Latins became more estranged, however, people looked back on the events of 1054 as the moment of the final breach between East and West. (Not until December 7, 1965, were the mutual excommunications of 1054 abolished, by Pope Paul VI and the ecumenical patriarch Athenagoras I.)

The Very Rev. Henry Chadwick

 

 

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