Church History

I am an ecclesiastical historian by training and a Bible software guy by trade. Which, I think, puts me in the unique position to write about the history of the intersection of technology and Scripture study in a series of posts.

Written by my friend Andrew Jones PhD:

We might start with a description of the Bible we are all used to. It is a stand-alone, printed volume of 73 books (give or take a few), with a more or less fixed text translated from the earliest and best manuscripts. Because of its size, its mass production, and the fact that nearly all of us are literate, we tend to think of the Bible as a self-contained work that is readily available and can be read by anyone and anywhere.

The Bible was a very different thing in the Middle Ages. That may seem like a bold statement, but let me explain. Medieval Christianity was profoundly sacramental, focusing on an encounter with Christ that was both spiritual and physical.

As the theologians of the period frequently remarked, Christ was the Word of God in both His “doing and teaching” (Acts 1:1). For the medieval Christian engagement with the spoken Word of God was not divorced from physical engagement with Christ’s Body, and so the Bible was, above all else, a liturgical book.

In the liturgy, the priest read the Scripture, brought the text to life through preaching, and then confected the Eucharist on the altar, introducing Christ’s physical presence. The Word of God in its totality was made present and the encounter with it was total: intellectual, physical, and social.

In the liturgy the Christian was understood as united vertically with God and horizontally with his fellow man—all together, the Body of Christ.

This was the context in which medieval Christians studied the Scripture. Indeed, they often evoked Eucharistic imagery. They “chewed” the Word and “swallowed” it. This was an act of deep reading and meditation on the text that culminated in memorization.

But they did not understand memorization as do we. We tend to think of the memory as a hard drive, and memorization as an act of rote drilling that leads to data retention. To the people of the Middle Ages, however, the act of memorization was that of “digesting” the Scripture so that it became a part of who they were.

Like how the Eucharist became a part of the body, the Scripture became a part of the mind. Amazing feats of memory are documented, such as being able to recite the Bible backwards……..

For the whole article, visit here.

For a very funny video on Scripture study in the Middle Ages, watch this. I had tears in my eyes I laughed so hard.

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250px-Santo_Inácio_-_RomaTwo great Jesuit churches stand near each other in Rome. One is the Church of St. Ignatius and the other the Church of Gesu (Jesus). Both are imposing and majestic and reflect the glory of the Jesuits in their heyday. 

The one to the left is called the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. In Italian it is Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio. It was built in the 17th century, back when the Jesuits knew who they were and what their commission and charism was (though there are still a few like that today, e.g., Fr. Joseph Fessio and Fr. Mitch Pacwa and the deceased Fr. John Hardon).

IMG_3601

In the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola there is a huge statue of St. Ignatius standing tall looking up to heaven. In his hand is the open Bible.

Beneath him is Martin Luther with a closed Bible. St. Ignatius has his foot on Luther’s neck and Luther is biting the back of his own hand.

Click IMG_3603 for a short video clip.

This would probably not go over very well today. In fact the sign under the statue only says “A Statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola” but fails to explain the original purpose and meaning of the statue and who is under St. Ignatius’ foot.

I bought their booklet explaining all the statues and art in the church and it fails to show this statue or to explain it.

It is fully recognized that we are in a new era today, and do not attack today’s Protestants for the schism caused by Luther and we refer to them as our “separated brethren.” However, the things taught by Protestants that are contrary to the teaching of the Church are still heresies and their separation from the Catholic Church and the Roman Pontiff is still an unfortunate schism.

But we still need to realize that when the “Reformation” took place the rebels were heretics and caused a schism in the Church and the saints and theologians did not hesitate to say so. We need to quit being politically correct and overly ecumenically sensitive and start calling heresy heresy and schism schism when they raise their ugly heads up in our current time.

Mary casting Luther and Huss from heaven

In the Church of Gesus is another of my favorite statues. It is called The Triumph of Faith over Heresy and was designed during the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Heresy was not considered a naughty word back in the day when battles were fought for the truth of the Catholic faith. It is a word that should maybe be resurrected in our time.

When you see the sculpture today no one comments on what it means, nor will you find a placard explaining its meaning. Here is a paragraph from theSacred-Destinations website: 

To the right of the altar sits Pietro Le Gros’ sculpture entitled The Triumph of Faith over Heresy.  This sculpture depicts Mary casting Martin Luther and his precursor, Jan Huss, out of heaven.  An attendant angel (lower left) rips their translations of the Bible and their writings to shreds.  The militant nature of the Jesuits and their mission to spread the faith and reassert the power of the church is clear in this dramatic work.  A companion sculpture entitled The Triumph of Faith over Idolatry” by Jean-Baptiste Theodon further cements the message of the Jesuits.

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Most ancient image of Mary with baby Jesus

Early Christian burial sites are now easier to see, both in person and via the Internet, thanks to 21st-century technology and collaboration between Google and the Vatican.

“This is perhaps the sign of the joining of two extremes, remote antiquity and modernity,” said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi at a news conference Tuesday at the Catacombs of Priscilla in northeast Rome.

The cardinal, president of both the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, lauded recent restoration work by the archeological commission inside the complex of early Christian tombs.

Using advanced laser techniques, restorers have uncovered vivid late fourth-century frescoes depicting Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and Sts. Peter and Paul accompanying Christians into the afterlife. Jesus’ face resembles portraits of the Emperor Constantine, who legalized Christian worship in 313.

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Questions for “Bible Christians” that they can’t answer

October 26, 2013

http://www.catholic-convert.com/documents/QuestionsforBibleChristians.pdf  (David Palm is the original compiler of the insightful list.) Check out this list of Questions for “Bible Christians” that they cannot answer. I got a response in the Comments below, but thought I would post it here with my response. DAVID COMMENTED: It is refreshing to hear a Romanist admit they are not [...]

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Imperial President Promises Christians: “I Won’t Make You Marry Gays”…

June 26, 2013

…he won’t MAKE us marry gays? Oh, how kind of his majesty. So considerate of his subjects, especially us misguided and intolerant Christians. Obama the merciful! But before you bow in thanks to his Royal Highness beware that his anti-Christian, anti-conservative minions in the IRS might just remove tax-exempt status for any group refusing to marry [...]

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Brief Overviews of Paul’s Life — from the Place He Was Beheaded — Free Timeline

June 18, 2013

Two Videos: 1) Short Biography of St. Paul from the Place he was Martyred; 2) a Tour of the Sites of St. Paul’s Last Days. Enjoy! Steve gave a short biography of St. Paul at Tre Fontone where St. Paul was beheaded. This will give you a short introduction to St. Paul and his life [...]

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Why Protestants Reject 7 Books of the Bible – the Short Answer

May 31, 2013

Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean. Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from [...]

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This Ad Shown on History Channel – Bravo!

March 10, 2013

Catholics Come Home ad

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My Two Books to Help Understand the Papacy and the Process

February 12, 2013

Ray, a former Evangelical Protestant and Bible teacher, goes through the Scriptures and the first five centuries of the Church to demonstrate that the early Christians had a clear understanding of the primacy of Peter in the see of Rome. (Click on book image to learn more or to purchase) He tackles the tough issues [...]

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“Sunday Mornings in Ancient Times” or “Why I Teared up Last Sunday”

February 3, 2013

Tears welled up in my eyes — again — at Mass last Sunday. It was not always so. As a former Baptist I used to think the Catholic Mass was a sacrilege and an abomination. How could anyone worship a piece of bread? Really! However, last Sunday I was overcome with emotion while sitting in [...]

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Trail of Blood: Do Baptists Have a Claim to the Original Church?

January 18, 2013

What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct? There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving [...]

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Yad Vashem and “Hitler’s Pope”

January 16, 2013

Yad Vashem Controversy An inscription at Yad Vashem states that Pius XII‘s record during the Holocaust was controversial, and that he negotiated a concordat with the Nazis, maintained Vatican neutrality during the war and, formerly stated that he took no initiatives to save Jews. In 1985, Pietro Palazzini was honored by the museum, where he [...]

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St. Nicholas is Coming to Town: the Real Story

December 6, 2012

Everyone loves jolly ol’ Saint Nicholas. There is something romantic and cozy about telling Santa stories around the crackling fire. He is an icon of the Christmas season. But not everyone agrees about the real Santa Claus. Some like to picture Santa as the early-19th century, pipe-smoking elf with a bucket full of coal for [...]

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Mega-church Mania: One Mom’s Observations (she’s a good writer) and Observations from the Early Church

August 6, 2012

Mr. Ray, My eldest daughter invited me to my grandson’s ‘dedication’ at her new place of worship.  Worship? Sorry. Her new place of…..well, the giant Olympic-sized structure that, after being directed in by police/traffic officers, upon entering, reminded me of a mall.  Oh and by the way, I didn’t witness any worship. My 1st thoughts were…”Wow! [...]

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Social Importance of the Catholic Church

July 10, 2012

We are members of the oldest Christian religion in the world. The Catholic Church was founded in the year 33 by our Lord Jesus Christ. We have the real body and blood of Christ in our communion and bishops are in constant succession from the apostles through the laying on of hands through 2,000 years.The [...]

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Obama, Contraception and the Early Church Fathers

February 17, 2012

Despite what some commentators and politicians think, Church teaching on abortion and contraception has remained unchanged. By FATHER MITCH PACWA SJ, 02/16/2012 (copied from National Catholic Register) The recent indignity by which the Obama administration wants to mandate everyone, including all Catholic institutions or their insurers, to pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, has [...]

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