Early English Church History

The following public domain book is now available on-line in PDF:

William Bright [1824-1901], Chapters of Early English Church History, 2nd Edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888. Hbk. pp.476. 

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Early English Church History

Contents

Chapter I (Introductory)

The beginning of British Christianity unknown; No proof of an Apostolic visit; Story of Lucius; Tertullia.n on British Christians; First Mission probably from Gaul; St. Alban; British Bishops at Council of Arles; Few traces of British Church; Its orthodoxy; St. Ninian; Pelagianism in Britain; Britons appeal to Gallic Church; Mission of German and Lupus; Discussion with Pelagians; German and Lupus at Verulam; The Allelnia Victory; Second visit of St. German; The Saxon Conquest; Sufferings of Britons; Condition of British Nation and Church; ‘Increpations’ of Gildas; British Church Ritual; British Colleges and Synods; Missionaries and Saints; Dubricius and David; Flight of British Bishops; What opening for a Mission!

Chapter II

Gregory the Great; The Church and Slavery; Gregory and the English boys; Gregory becomes Pope; His plans for an English Mission; Ethelbert and Bertha; Augustine and his companions; Misgivings silenced by Gregory; His commendatory letters; The Missionaries in Gaul; They land in Kent; Augustine before Ethelbert; Ethelbert’s reply; Augustine enters Canterbury; Life of Missionaries in Canterbury; Baptism of Ethelbert; Death of St. Columba; Consecration of Augustine; Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral; Messengers sent to Gregory; Gregory’s answers to Augustine’s questions; His view of the Popedom; Question of Miracles; Scheme for Bishoprics; Letters to Ethelbert and Bertha; Treatment of Pagan Temples; Arrival of Mellitus and his companions.

Chapter Ill

First Conference with British Bishops; Question of Easter; Questions of Baptismal Rites and Tonsure; Second Conference; Advice of the Hermit; Augustine’s terms rejected; His prediction; Battle of Chester; Bishopric of London; Bishopric of Rochester; ‘Church and Realm’ in Kent; Liturgical arrangements; Monastery of SS. Peter and Paul; Date of Augustine’s death; Consecration of Laurence; Archbishopric fixed at Canterbury; Character of St. Augustine; Overtures to the Irish Church fail; St. Columban; His Celtic tenacity; Renewed overtures to Britons fail; Dedication of SS. Peter and Paul’s; Eadbald rejects the Faith; Mellitus expelled from London; Story of Laurence’s dream; Conversion of Eadbald; Redwald’s compromise; Edwin in exile; His mysterious visitant; Edwin, King of all Northumbria; Mellitus, Archbishop; Disappointment of early hopes for the Mission; Paulinus sent to Northumbria.

Chapter IV

Paulinus at York; Attempt on Edwin’s life; Indecision of Edwin; Paulinus prevails with him; Northumbrian Witenagemot; Christianity adopted;Political greatness of Edwin; Bishopric of York; Mission-journeys of St. Paulinus; Estimate of his work;
Honorius, Archbishop; Christianity in East-Anglia; Sigebert and St. Felix; St. Fursey; Cadwallon and Penda; Edwin slain at Hatfield; The ‘ Hateful Year’; Flight of Paulinus; James the Deacon; Battle of Heavenfield; Oswald, King of Northumbria; He sends to Hy for a Bishop; Aidan chosen Bishop; Question as to his consecration; Aidan arrives in Northumbria; He settles at Lindisfarne; His position as independent of Rome

Chapter V

Character of St. Aidan; His work as Bishop; His relations with Oswald; His charity and boldness; His ‘error’ as to Easter; Church-work under him; Mission of St. Birinus; He preaches in Wessex; Baptism of Kynegils; Birinus, Bishop of Dorchester; Erconbert, King of Kent; The Family of King Anna; Battle of Maserfield; Death of St. 0swald; Reverence for his sanctity; Anxiety caused by his death; Oswy, King of Bernicia; Exile and conversion of Kenwalch; He regains his crown; Church of Winchester founded; Learning in Ireland; Agilbert in Wessex; Oswin, King of Deira; His murder; Honours to his memory; Nunneries in Northumbria; Death of Aidan.

Chapter VI

Preparations for organisation of English Church; Finan, Bishop of Lindisfarne; Paschal Question revived; Baptism of Peada; Mission to Mid-Angles; Baptism of Sigebert the Good; Cedd, Bishop of the East-Saxons; Foundation of Lastingham; Deusdedit, Archbishop; Death of Anna; Penda invades Northumbria; Battle of Winwidfield; Mercian Bishopric founded; Murder of Sigebert the Good; St. Botulf; Wulfhere, King of Mercia; Monastery of Peterborough; Wini, Bishop of Winchester; South-Saxons still Heathen; Colman, Bishop of Lindisfarne; Mona.sticism in Northumbria; Cuthbert at Melrose; Beginnings of Wilfrid; Wilfrid at Lindisfarne and at Lyons; His first visit to Rome; He returns to Northumbria; His aims for his native Church; Paschal Question brought to an issue; Conference of Whitby; Colman leaves Lindisfarne; Review of the Scotic Mission

Chapter VII

Tuda, Bishop of Lindisfarne; The ‘ Yellow Pest’; Apostasy of East-Saxons; Cuthbert, Prior of Melrose; Wilfrid elected to York; Consecration of Wilfrid in Gaul; His return from Gaul; Consecration of Chad; Third Mission to East-Saxons; Simony of Wini; Wilfrid in Mercia and Kent; Election and death of Wighard; Pope Vitalian’s letter; Theodore chosen for Canterbury; Monothelite Controversy; Consecration of Theodore; Theodore in Gaul; His arrival at Canterbury; His character; His reception in England.

Chapter VIII

Theodore and St. Chad; Question of Chad’s Consecration; His episcopate at Lichfield; His piety; His death; Egfrid, King of Northurnbria; Wilfrid’s church-building; Grandeur of his position; School at Canterbury; Monasticism in Kent; Lothere, Bishop of Winchester; Council of Hertford

Chapter IX

East-Anglian diocese divided; Queen Etheldred; Foundation of Ely; Disorders at Coldingham followed by ruin; Deposition of Winfrid; Erkenwald, Bishop of London; Aldhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury; Heddi, Bishop of Winchester; Design for a Monastery at Abingdon; Mercian Invasion of Kent; Putta at Hereford; Cuthbert, Prior of Lindisfarne; He retires to Farne; His Hermit-life; Foundation of Wearmouth; Ceolfrid; Hilda at Whitby; Credmon.

Chapter X

Beginning of Wilfrid’s troubles; Theodore and Egfrid; Division of Northumbrian diocese; Wilfrid’s appeal to Rome; Views of Roman See taken by Wilfrid, and by English Church in general; Seizure of Bishop Winfrid; Wilfrid in Frisia and Lombardy; Council of Rome; Return of Wilfrid; Roman decree rejected by Egfrid; Imprisonment of Wilfrid; His release; His stay in Mercia; He withdraws into Sussex; State of the South-Saxons; Wilfrid converts them; His Episcopate at Selsey.

Chaper XI

Mercian diocese divided; Saxon Monastery at Glastonbury; Mission of John the Precentor; Council of Hatfield; Question of Double Procession; Death of John the Precentor; Death of St. Hilda; Bishopric at Abercorn; Foundation of Jarrow; Bede; Invasion of Ireland; Assembly at Twyford; Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne; Egfrid attacks the Picts; Cuthbert at Carlisle; Battle of Dunnechtan; See of Abercorn abandoned; Aldfrid, King of Northumbria; St. Cuthbert’s Episcopate; His Visitations; He returns to Farne; Cuthbert’s last days; His death; Death of Easterwine; Benedict’s last return from Rome; Cad walla and Wilfrid; Cadwalla, King of Wessex; Conquest of the Isle of Wight; Conversion of its people; Theodore reconciled to Wilfrid; Wilfrid restored to York; The first compromise; John, Bishop of Hexham; Eadbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne; Death of Benedict Biscop; Cadwalla. goes to Rome; Baptism and death of Cadwalla; Ine, King of West-Saxons; Death of Theodore.

Chapter XII

State of Church and Kingdoms at Theodore’s death; Laws of King Ine; Renewal of Wilfrid’s troubles; Questions for Wilfrid; Wilfrid in Mercia; Missions to Frisia; St. Willibrord; Swidbert, Missionary Bishop; Martyrdom of the Hewalds; Willibrord’s Episcopate; Bertwald, Archbishop of Canterbury; Death of St. Erkenwald; Death of King Sebbi; Egwin, Bishop of Worcester; Laws of King Wihtred; The ‘Privilege’ of Wihtred; Guthlac at Crowland; Foundation of Evesham.

Chapter XIII

Death of Bishop Eadbert; Letter of Pope Sergius; Council of Easterfield; Wilfrid’s second Appeal; Wilfrid again in Mercia; St. Aldhelm; He writes to encourage ‘ Wilfrid’s clerks’; Acca; Wilfrid’s last journey to Rome; Pope John VI; Council of Rome; Decision of the Council; Letter of Pope John; Wilfrid at Meaux; Wilfrid welcomed by Ethelred; Aldfrid refuses to receive him; Death of Aldfrid; Council of the Nidd; Final compromise in the ’cause of Wilfrid’

Chapter XIV

Aldhelm’s letter to Geraint on British Easter and Tonsure; Gradual surrender of Celtic Easter; Daniel, Bishop of Winchester; Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne; Church-work in Wessex; Death of Aldhelm; Complaint against Bede; Wilfrid’s last arrangements; His journey into Mercia; His death; Retrospect.

Chapter XIV

Aldhelm’s letter to Geraint on British Easter and Tonsure; Gradual surrender of Celtic Easter; Daniel, Bishop of Winchester; Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne; Church-work in Wessex; Death of Aldhelm; Complaint against Bede; Wilfrid’s last arrangements; His journey into Mercia; His death;
Retrospect.

Additional Notes

A. Christian adoption of Pagan sites
B. Bede and Gregory of Tours
C. Theodore and Chad
D. The Council of Hertford
E. The Age of St. Aldhelm
F. Growth of a Parochial System
G. Miscellaneous

Table of Principal Events
Table of Royal and Episcopal Succession, A.D. 597-709
Genealogical Tables
Index

New Book on the Cathars and Waldenses

Caterina Bruschi, The Wandering Heretics of Languedoc. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Hbk. ISBN-13: 9780521182270. pp.232.

The publishers blurb reads:

How should historians read sources which record inquisitorial trials in the Middle Ages? How can we understand the fears felt by those on trial? By analysing six volumes of depositions in the trial of Cathar and Waldensian heretics in Languedoc between the late twelfth and the fourteenth century, in this 2009 book, Caterina Bruschi challenges old methodologies in the study of dissent. She examines the intrinsic narratological problems related to the sources and, using approaches from the social sciences, analyses the different fears felt by deponents and how those fears affected their actions and decisions. In so doing, she sheds light on itinerancy within the ecclesial structure of non-conformist movements and contextualises the problem of itinerancy as a benchmark for the definition of heresy. Focusing on the lives and attitudes of trial witnesses, this innovative account is a major contribution to our understanding of the nature of religious non-conformity in the Middle Ages.

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Stories, and how to read them
2. Catharism and its mobility
3. Heretical itinerancy
4. Patterns of fear and risk
Conclusions (and starting points)
Bibliography.

Features

• Challenges methodological assumptions about how to read medieval trial records
• Analyses unpublished primary sources
• Provides insights into the interactions between inquisitors and deponents

Review: Warrior of God. Jan Zizka and the Hussite Revolution

Victor Verney, Warrior of God. Jan Zizka and the Hussite Revolution. London: Frontline Books, 2009. Hbk. ISBN: 978-1-84832-516-6. pp.240.

When I was first offered a review copy of this book I was somewhat surprised, because the publisher specialises in military rather than religious history. Having read the book I would have to say that it would be a great shame if this meant that those interested in medieval and reformation history overlooked it because of its publisher.

The book covers the life of Jan Zizka, a man instrumental in the survival and the success of the Hussite revolution in Bohemia following the martyrdom of Jan Hus. The introductory chapter places the story of the Hussites in the larger context of the political and religious turmoil of the 14th Century, while chapter one introduces Zizka and explains the significance of his military innovations. Zizka proved to be a genius at utilising whatever was at hand in warfare. At this time the significant role in battle was conducted by opposing knights. These engaged one another on horseback as they saw fit and the peasant infantry served mainly to be mowed down by the cavalry.

Faced with a situation where his forces consisted almost entirely of peasant infantry Zizka equipped them by converting their wagons into mobile fortresses and (literally) turned their pruning hooks into swords and a variety of vicious clubs and other weapons. Faced with Zizka’s battle wagons drawn up in formation strategically utilising the terrain, cavalry charges proved useless and knights were forced to dismount and attack on more equal terms with their opponents. In such circumstances the knights were invariably routed.

Chapter 2 describes the career of Jan Hus and includes this significant passage which is worth quoting in full:

Before being burned at the stake, Hus declared ‘You are now going to burn a goose [the meaning of his surname] , but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast or boil.’ Copies of Wyclif’s writings were used to kindle the fire. One hundred and two years later, Luther posted his theses, and today the swan is a symbol of many Lutheran churches. The seeming prescience of Hus’s remark, served to heighten his saintly stature with subsequent generations of Bohemians, and Protestant iconography commonly connects Wyclif, Hus, and Luther. Has Hus lived longer,he would have presided over difficult times for his followers, and his memory might be less revered. Some feel that Hus left the historical stage at the proper time and in the proper manner to ensure everlasting fame respect. A living Hus would have been a valuable voice for the movement, but the dead Hus embodied a spirit of pride and resistance, inspiring the Hussites and steeling them for the coming doctrinal a military assault upon their beliefs. [p.36]

These military assaults came from without, in the form of the five anti-Hussite Crusades, and from within as divisions in the Hussite cause led to discord and civil war. The brutality of these wars – on all sides – was incredible and one has to remind oneself that the Hussites were literally fighting for their lives as their “heresy” was a capital offence. Through Zizka’s leadership the Hussite armies finally subjugated almost all of of Bohemia and after his death invaded Moravia and Austria.

Victor Verney does a splendid job of translating the incredible complex events of this period into an engaging account that is a delight to read. He describes the origins of the various Hussites sects, the Orebites (Orphans), Taborites, Pichards, Adamites, etc. in such as way that one is able to understand clearly the historical and religious context of each.

Towards the end of his book Verney sums up the significance of the Hussite revolution in these words, which again are worth quoting in full:

Continual Hussite victories also sowed widespread religious doubt, ultimately more subversive to Rome than their military incursions. Many could not understand why, if they were fighting for God as the Pope, the Emperor, and their nobles and clerics kept assuring them, they kept losing. If the Hussites were indeed sacriligious heretics, why was God permitting them to enjoy such success? These widespread misgivings about the Vatican’s omnipotence and righteousness prepared Central Europe for Martin Luther a century later. The Hussites, particularly Tabor, exploited this by distributing thousands of pamphlets throughout Western Europe, explaining themselves and making their case – a remarkable exercise in mass media four decades before Gutenberg’s printing press. [p,222]

In summary, I would like to highly commend this book to anyone interested in medieval and reformation history and hope that it becomes required reading on all courses dealing with these subjects.

A. Skevington Wood on Nicolas of Lyra

The following article is now on-line in PDF:

A. Skevington Wood, “Nicholas of Lyra,” Evangelical Quarterly 33 (1961): 196-206.

Nicholas of Lyra was one of the most influencial exegetes of the Middle Ages because he mediated to the Church the fruits of medieval Jewish exegesis. His was the first every Bible commentary to appear in print. My own research on the history of the interpretation of Genesis indicates that he is the first known proponent of a form of the Framework Hypothesis for interpreting the Days of Genesis 1:

The idea that the first three days describe the acts of creation, separation and adornment has a much longer history. It is mentioned by Martin Luther in his Lectures on Genesis, but Luther disregarded it because in his opinion it did not appear to fit the facts. He referred those interested in such trivia to the work of Nicholas de Lyra (c. 1270-1349) on Genesis, to whom Luther himself was heavily indebted.

Book Review: Islam. The Challenge to the Church


Patrick Sookhdeo, Islam. The Challenge to the Church. Pewsey: Isaac Publishing, 2006. Pbk. ISBN: 0954783549. pp.125.

Available from the Barnabas Fund, Old Rectory, River Street, PEWSEY, Wiltshire, SN9 5DB. Tel: +44 1672 564938. Fax: +44 1672 565030

Contents and Summary:

1) Understanding Islam

Discusses the basic teachings of Islam, its sects, morality (including the issues of lying, Jihad and Shari’a). Four “myths” about Islam are refuted:

    1. The Word “Islam” means “peace”.

 

    1. Islam is a religion of peace and there are many verses to prove this in the Qur’an.

 

    1. The Qur’an says: “If you kill one soul it is as if you killed all mankind.”

 

  1. The Qur’an says: “There is no compulsion in religion.”

2) Comparing Islam with Christianity

This chapter is one fo the best in the book and provides a very pithy analysis of a complex subject. My favourite section deals with the knotty issue of the Crusades and is worth citing in full:

The real difference between Christianity and Islam lies in the core issues of their sacred writings and the persons of their founders. Christians have frequently in their long history departed from Christ’s teachings and perpetrated cruelties against Jews, Muslims and heretics. However, when returning to their source scriptures they come face to face with the person of Christ and the Gospel of love and forgiveness he preached, as well as his atoning death and supreme example of humility, service, suffering and non-violence.

When Muslims return to their original sources, they have a very different encounter. The later dated verses of the Qur’an, revealed to Muhammad in Medina, contain much that is intolerant and belligerent. According to the most commonly followed doctrine of abrogation, later verses supersede earlier (more peaceable) verses dating from his days in Mecca. Muslims also meet Muhammad, whose words and actions, recorded in the hadith, give many clear examples of aggression, warmongering, even what in modern terminology appear to be assassination, torture and genocide. Some Muslims will argue that these actions were for a particular context only, but the fact remains that they occurred. Setting up Muhammad as the supreme example in every aspect of his words and actions, nece­ssitates transforming his vices into virtues. This is the real cause of the contradictions so prevalent in Islamic soci­eties and Islamic history, especially on issues relating to jihad, the treatment of women, and the contempt shown to non-Muslims.

Having made this comparison, it should be added that another vital difference is the relative importance of the founder and of the scriptures. The Christian faith is ulti­mately a relationship with a Person, but Islam is focused on the authority of a book.

Dr Sookhdeo concludes the chapter by refuting the claim that Islam, along with Judaism and Christianity are the three Abrahamic faiths. To say that they are is to accept the muslim’s claim that Islam is the final and purest revelation.

3) Issues

This chapter outlines the use made by Muslims of the Law, the media, politics and our education system in order to further their aims. There are helpful sections on the position within Islam of women and non-muslims living in an Islamic society (Dhimmi).

4) Christian-Muslim Relations

Good relations between Christian and Muslims are seriously hampered by Islam’s teaching about the correct way to treat unbelievers. hospitality and gifts may be given by Muslims, but not accepted from Christians. The dangers of allowing Muslims to address churches are outlined, as are those arising from allowing muslims to use church buildings for Friday prayers and inter-faith marches of witness and giving to Islamic charities. Conversion from Islam to Christianity can have severe – sometimes fatal – consequences, even in the UK. This has implications for how church’s support new believers and their families.

Conclusion

Appendix: Ten Christian Approaches to Islam

Glossary of Arabic Terms

Assessment

I am continually surprised at how naive many Christians in the UK are about the teachings and practice of Islam. Dr Sookhdeo has done us a great service in producing a brief but authoritative summary of the ways in which Islam is a challenge to the church and how it can respond to these challenges. It is a book that every Christian should read.