REL 330 - History of Christianity

Course Notes

Chapter 6
Page 163
When the Roman Legions were withdrawn from Britain in the fifth century they left behind a Christian Romano-British culture with many towns, settlements, and families. The Christian Church in Britain was cut off from the Roman and Byzantine Churches, and the Celts/Britons came under attack from pagan Norsemen, Saxons, Angles. Although the Celtic Christians in Britain traveled as missionaries to Ireland, Scotland, and parts of the northern Germanic lands, the Celtic peoples themselves were driven westward by the Anglo-Saxon marauders who had invaded the south of England. It is probable that the stories of King Arthur and his knights are based on a Romano-British leader who held out against the invaders until he was overwhelmed and killed.
Page 164
King Laoghaire's name is pronounced LAIR-ee
Page 164
The book mentions a monastery at Bangor in Ireland. There were actually three places, all named Bangor, and all with monasteries founded during this period.
"Bangor Fawr" (Great Bangor), in Wales, was probably founded by St. Deiniol ca. 500.
"Bangor Iscoed" (Bangor in the woods), was also in Wales, with up to 2,000 monks, who were massacred by invading Saxons from Northumbria in 603.
Bangor in County Down, Ireland, founded by St. Comgall ca. 555, with up to 3,000 monks, was the home of St. Columbanus and St. Gall; it was destroyed by the Danes in 824.
Page 165
The monastery of Monte Cassino, and the information about Benedict of Nursia and the Benedictine Rule, refer to the development of monasticism in the Roman Church in Italy, not to the Celtic Church, which traced its traditions to John of Ephesus and the Eastern Church.
Page 167
"pontifex maximus" is Latin for "greatest bridge-builder", originally one of the titles of the Roman priest of Zeus, implying that he could make a bridge between human beings and the gods.
Page 168
Pope Damasus. The textbook does not mention one of Damasus' greatest works. By the fifth century there were several different translations of the Bible in use in the Church. Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome to prepare a good new translation, using the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament. Jerome traveled to Palestine, and lived in a cave under the Church in Bethlehem which commemorates the Birth of Christ. He learned Hebrew and translated the Bible into Latin. Because Latin was the common (vulgar) language throughout the Roman West, this translation is the basis for the version now known as the Vulgate; it is still in use even today. Jerome used the order of Books found in the Septuagint version. The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced ca. 260 BC which contains the Deuterocanonical and Apocryphal Books in addition to those of the Hebrew canon.
Page 171
The textbook recounts the legend of Gregory seeing slave boys who were Angles, and deciding to send a missionary to their land. There is a rather more factual account given by Bede, that King Ethelbert of Kent wanted to marry a Frankish princess, Bertha, who was Christian, and she said she would only go to Britain and marry him if he would allow her to have a Christian priest in her household. Queen Bertha sent to Rome for help and the Pope sent Augustine and several other monks. Augustine really didn't want to go - he dragged his feet, and spent six months on the journey, but arrived in Kent at last. The King agreed to hear him preach, provided it was in the open - he thought that being under a roof would put him under Augustine's control. When Augustine preached about God, and Jesus as Savior, not only was the King converted, but also the Chief Druid. The Chief Druid then pulled down the pagan altar and declared that he would worship God.
Unfortunately, Augustine's mission did not go as smoothly as it might have done. There were still Bishops of the Celtic Church in Britain, and they came to meet with Augustine. They were not sure about how genuine he was, and had agreed amongst themselves that if he welcomed them and came to greet them they would take it as a good sign. However, when they approached, Augustine was seated on a throne, and he did not rise to greet them, so they went off in a huff. Relations between the remaining Celtic Christians and the new Roman mission to the Anglo-Saxons were strained from then on.

Copyright © 2005 Shirley J. Rollinson, all Rights Reserved

Dr. Rollinson

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Portales, NM 88130

Last Updated : February 19, 2017

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