Monday, June 25, 2018

The not so dark ages

I learnt a lot from the chapter in Historical Theology, Middle Ages and the Rennasiance (700-1500 AD).

Here is the video introduction from the corresponding chapter in Christian Theology: An introduction.

The first value of the chapter is it highlights how this period was not the "dark ages".
Nor was this period dominated by arcane arguments about questions such as “How many angels can dance on a pin head?” This was actually an intellectually rich time that set the stage for the Reformation.

Under Charlemagne, cathedrals and monasteries became centres of teaching and learning.
The first universities were founded by the church, with a focus on theology and philosophy.
Scholasticism, or “the cathedral of the mind” flourished during 1200-1500, with an emphasis on the “rational justification of religious belief and the systematic presentation of those beliefs”. McGrath says scholasticism  “does not refer to a specific system of beliefs, but to a particular way of doing and organising theology.”

Key figures were Erasmus, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham.
The Renaissance occurred in the fourteenth and fifteenth century Italy.
Theological writers tended to ignore the scholastics and focus more on the text of scripture and patristics.
Humanism was concerned with ad fontes (“back to the sources”). This largely meant the New Testament in the original language, Greek.
This humanism is quite different from the secular humanism of today.
Byzantine writers tended to understand salvation in terms of deification, rather than western legal or relational categories, that were emphasized in the Reformation.
This period saw the beginning of apologetics. For example, Anselm’s “ontological argument” and
Aquinas’ five arguments for the existence of God, including the cosmological argument.

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