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Thanks, David. One of the problems of putting together hundreds of links for a course like this is that some of them will inevitably get changed or disappear. I put together the links for this course last fall, so there have been six months or more in which they could change. I’ll try to get the web people to update these this week.
Walter, this interpretation of Jesus as an anarchist surfaces off and on through the history of the Church. The Anabaptists of the 16th century, for example, took a stance of radical separation from everything having to do with the State. I discuss this in the lecture on the Swiss Reformation in the Western Civilization Since 1500 series.
I think this commentary you link is correct to the extent that as more and more people behave the way Jesus taught them to, the perceived need for the State shrinks. I also think it would be a mistake to view Jesus’ ministry or specific statements such as that in John 18:36 as being primarily political.May 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm in reply to: Caesar Augustus and the apparent restoration of republicanism in 27 BC #16376
His popularity stemmed mainly from his ending of the frequent civil wars of the previous century. I don’t recall saying that “the people must have approved of the actions he took.” Can you point me to the specific part of the video you’re referencing?
mlandis is correct in that the Mosaic law specifically forbade human sacrifice in tabernacle/temple ceremony, and also that at times in the OT period Hebrews sacrificed people anyway under the influence of the surrounding cultures.
During the first century A.D., the ceremonial requirements of the Mosaic Law with respect to the temple were observed pretty strictly by the Sadducees, and I know of no instance of human sacrifice taking place.
I have read _about_ these books but not actually read them. Both deal with the post-Theodosius conversion of Germanic and Scandinavian peoples and appear to focus on the use of Christianity as a political tool of rulers. The MacMullen book in particular is very hostile to Christianity. Fletcher is more balanced.
I’d recommend Charles Norris Cochrane’s book “Christianity and Classical Culture,” published by Liberty Fund, for a classic treatment of the process of conversion in the early centuries. “Pagans and Christians” by Robin Lane Fox is also highly regarded. Both of these focus on Rome.
Hi, Marc. I’ve just reviewed the section you reference. My exact words on the video are “The Hebrew faith, which later became known as Judaism . . .” I do not say that modern-day Judaism is the religion of Moses. If you inferred that as my meaning, you are incorrect, and I apologize for not being clearer.
If you watch my lecture on the New Testament, you’ll see that scholars talk about multiple “Judaisms” at the time of the first century. The Talmudic Judaism you talk about in your post is one particular strand of Judaism that eventually became dominant after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
I’ll look into this and see if I can find a suitable replacement link, Thanks.
CSA, that’s the pattern in the Ancient Near East, at least, with the exception of Egypt, which managed to maintain a continuous existence longer than anyone else despite occasional periods of internal instability and one or two invasions.
I don’t know to what extent we can draw analogies with the 21st-century U.S. The ideologies of democracy and self-determination are present today to a far greater extent than in the ancient world, and that makes it extremely difficult for a would-be imperial power to maintain sway, particularly when that power is reluctant to use violence in as naked a fashion as some group like the Assyrians.
A military takeover of the US by someone else seems impossible for the foreseeable future, barring an extraterrestrial invasion. The big threat to the US empire is economic. We’re dependent today on highly developed capital structures unknown in the ancient world, and we seem to be de-capitalizing right now with all the borrowing and spending on social programs.
I hope these off-the-cuff thoughts help you think through this question. It’s certainly worth pondering.May 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm in reply to: Breakup of the Roman Empire – similar fate for American Empire? #16353
If the U.S. government continues down the same road as the Late Roman Empire in the West (debasing the currency, implementing wage/price controls, over-regulating, etc.), it’s not unreasonable to expect secessionist impulses here to increase. Something pretty dramatic would have to happen for majority opinion to swing in that direction, but it’s not unthinkable. Hyperinflation, conscription for an unpopular war, etc., could precipitate a crisis that breaks up the Union. I don’t see anything like that happening in the near term, but one never knows.
One thing that might help to understand the clergy’s thinking is that most of them (at least further up in the hierarchy) came from noble households, and thus they were reared in that culture of martial accomplishments. Think of Chaucer’s monk in the prologue of the “Canterbury Tales” who wants to spend all of his time hunting and doing noble-like things.
There were voices in the church that argued against violence, but they were definitely in the minority.
“Temporal” is not the same as “secular” in the modern sense; parish priests are “secular clergy” because they are active in society as opposed to the “regular clergy” who are bound by (for example) the Benedictine Rule and live apart in monasteries. Temporal authority is authority exercised in time and on earth (unlike, for example, excommunication) and refers usually to kings and nobles, although some bishops wielded temporal authority in addition to their spiritual authority.
I think what’s going on here is that when Rothbard uses the term “crisis” he’s referring specifically to the economy, mainly commerce, whereas I’m using the term in a more general sense. All the things that Rothbard mentions took place, and of course they had harmful economic effects. There’s a sense in which those policies in places like France could have made populations more vulnerable to outbreaks of plague, but of course they couldn’t _bring_ the plague to those regions.
There is a taxation-of-clergy question involved in the Boniface/Philip dispute with the issuance of the bull “Clericis Laicos” several years earlier which forbade bishops from paying taxes to the king. The appointment question revolves around whose guys are going to be in those positions. Philip’s guys would pay the tax; Boniface’s guys wouldn’t. So Rothbard and I are talking about different aspects of the same thing.
The same with the Hundred Years War. The seizure of Gascony was what I referred to in the lecture (if I remember correctly) of the Valois king (Philip IV was dead by that time) attempting to force Edward III to pay traditional feudal service for the French lands he held. The kings of England had not done this for 150 years. When Gascony was seized, Edward pressed the inheritance issue. Again, two aspects of the same thing.
Rothbard is always looking for economic explanations for things; that’s the point of his book. He appears to be assuming that his readers are already familiar with traditional interpretations, something I am not doing in these lectures (for many viewers, these lectures are their first exposure to the material). He’s presenting accurate information, and the things he mentions have an impact. Here I’m trying to present a general overview of things. If there’s ever a “second edition” of this course, I’ll talk some about Rothbard’s interpretation to show how it complements what I’m saying.
Yes, theologians identify a number of covenants between God and men in the Old Testament (Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.), and each has been interpreted as having an impact on not only the Hebrew people, but also on the Christian church and even the entire world. To keep things as simple as possible in this lecture, I was just trying to deal with the Mosaic covenant.
One of these days I’ll have to stop using “Yugoslavia,” but for now it still seems to me to be the most efficient term to use to refer to the northern part of the Balkan peninsula. Sorry for any confusion.
Your question is a great one and is very natural to ask. There’s a distinction to be made between Crusades against people who were not Christians (such as the Slavs) and Crusades against people who claimed to be Christians but had been judged heretics. In the latter case at least, “evangelism” in the form of the more benign activities of Inquisitors was tried first, and only if the heretics refused to change their ways was coercion applied via the temporal authority. The thinking was that heresy was analogous to a cancer that would spread if it were not quickly eradicated, and the Church hierarchy believed it was saving many souls (over which it had a paternal responsibility in a spiritual sense) by preventing doctrinal error from spreading.
Whatever the targeted people, in nearly all cases there are energetic temporal powers (such as the king of France) eager to use a Crusade as a pretext to extend their reach, and that was a factor not present in Christianity’s earlier centuries. As I mentioned in the lecture on the nobility, Crusades were used by the clergy as an outlet for the violent impulses of the warrior class; to their thinking, the nobles were going to fight someone, and better for it to be a non-Christian or heretic than an orthodox Christian.
Christian kings and nobles, with no New Testament model on which to pattern themselves, usually tried to emulate Old Testament figures such as David, who was often at war with Israel’s enemies.
Hopefully this helps give a little insight into the thinking behind some the Crusades on the “domestic” front.
And yes, Ray, there are entire degree programs at some universities in the “History of the Book.” Concerning transmission, the educated elites passed manuscripts among themselves and copies were made of texts in demand. Some cities had depositories of manuscripts, the Library of Alexandria of course being the most famous.
I’ll add to what Dr. Woods posted that virtually no original manuscripts from the classical world have survived. The earliest extant copies we have in most cases were produced by Christian monks in the early part of the Middle Ages.