Christianity A History: Dark Ages

Lindisfarne Gospels

Lindisfarne Gospels

Christianity first came to Britain with the Romans. When the Romans left, Christianity all but died. Roman Christianity never displaced the local pagans and their temples of worship.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the only centres of learning and Christianity in Western Europe were the monasteries.

In England there were three competing religions: paganism, Roman Christianity and Celtic Christianity.

Celtic Christianity with its links to the East and the Coptic Church survived in the West of the Isles, Cornwall, Ireland and Wales.

Rome sent emissaries to Canterbury.

Rather than trying to subjugate the pagan kingdoms, they were too powerful, Christianity adapted. Pagan sites became the sites of churches, often the pagan temple became a church, festivals were adapted.

The Venerable Bede defined what it was to be English.

The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (trans: Ecclesiastical History of the English People) is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity. Referring to an English people, a Christian people. Several kingdoms, but one people.

Lindisfarne Gospels incorporated Islamic art. Incredible detail in the illuminations as you zoom in. Very reminiscent of fractals.

Charlemagne expanded the Holy Roman Empire across Europe. It was from England the conversion to Christianity took place.

King Alfred was a devout religious man, a scholar. He united the English under a common English language, he also translated parts of the Bible into English, one of the forerunners of the King James Bible.

King Alfred saw learning as important. Clergy had books but could not read them. He saw it as important that the people should have the word of God in their own language, that the Latin should be translated to English. Israel had the word in Hebrew, the Greeks in Greek, Romans in Latin, therefore why not the English in English?

Medieval translations of the Bible before King James

For these early Christians the empasis was inclusiveness, social justice. One could be a Dane and English.

We see echoes. The anti-slavery movement, the early socialists.

We see it today with St Paul’s in-the-Camp and St Paul’s working with the camp for social justice.

Responding to Occupy LSX
Cathedral protest — the tour

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: