Tag Archives: Christian History magazine

Holy Roman Emperor, Batman! A great opportunity to get on board with Christian History magazine


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Friends, if you haven’t yet pulled the trigger on a free-with-encouragement-to-donate subscription to Christian History Magazine, now’s the time! Trust me, this upcoming Charlemagne/Christendom issue is both fascinating and gorgeous. Man, am I proud of the jobJennifer Woodruff TaitEdwin Woodruff TaitDawn Myers-MooreJennifer Trafton PetersonMeg Goddard Moss, and the rest of the Christian History team have done on this one. Sign up right away and you’ll soon be getting this in the mail.

Here’s the link with the skinny.

The Virgin Mary and the greatest thing we can learn from medieval Christians


Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430.

Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The final, trumpets-and-cymbals chapter of my Medieval Wisdom: An Exploration with C S Lewis explores a theme that I think can most benefit modern Western Christians, if only we grasp it. This is the opening bit, which starts with a biblical figure who modern Protestants regard with some nervousness as a symbol of Roman Catholicism–the Virgin Mary:

I was working at Christianity Today in the early 2000s, as managing editor of Christian History magazine. After getting a few issues under my belt, I hesitantly offered the suggestion that we do an issue on “Mary in the Christian Imagination.” Though the idea met with more support than I had feared (at that distinctively evangelical Protestant magazine), my art director did hazard the prediction that we would lose readers if we did the topic. Imagine my surprise when in the end, not only didn’t we lose any readers (that we knew), but we actually won the Evangelical Press Association’s award that year for best single-topic issue. This told me we’d hit a nerve with our evangelical Protestant readers. Apparently, there’s “something about Mary,” even for the descendants of Protestant fundamentalists. Continue reading

Read the new Christian History Guide to Worship from Constantine to the Reformation


Well, my love affair with the Middle Ages (warts and all) continues with the new issue of Christian History. This one is another mini-guide, like our Guide to Christian Thought on Hell.

This one surveys worship from the time of Constantine to the eve of the Reformation.

Master writer and liturgiologist (and friend) Dr. Jennifer Woodruff Tait wrote the whole thing, and it’s wonderful.

The design by Doug Johnson and images found by image researcher Jennifer Trafton help create a marvelous sense of time travel: the thematic articles on art & architecture, Scripture and sermons, music, leadership, and sacraments survey the landscape of medieval worship, and the three “snapshots” of what it would have been like to experience a worship service in 400, 800, and 1400 AD put you in the midst of the action.

Go ahead and check it out, in its full, image-rich glory, at http://www.christianhistorymagazine.org. I would love to hear your feedback here.

Christian History magazine issue #101, on the history of hospitals, is here–and there’s much, much more to come


Yep. The Christian History editorial team is celebrating the printing of Issue #101: Healthcare and Hospitals in the Mission of the Church. For full access to this full-color issue (including a magnified view for us old people–just click on the magazine to enlarge), see here.

The issue tells the fascinating story of how early and medieval Christians pioneered the healthcare institutions on which we now rely, including the modern hospital.

Christian History itself is moving forward in full and glorious health. Projects in the pipeline for 2011-12 include the following:

–a guided tour of 1,000 years of worship from Constantine to Luther,

–a larger issue or even book on the history of Christianity in America,

–an issue showing how influential early African Christianity (especially North African) was in the development of the faith,

–an issue exploring the ways the church responded to the travails and malaises of industrial society from the early 1800s through the beginning World War II, and

–a special keepsake issue on the history of Christmas.

If you haven’t signed up for the magazine yet at http://www.christianhistorymagazine.org, now is the time! Tell your friends!

New from Christian History magazine: The history of hell


The editorial team at Christian History magazine is working away on our Issue #101 on Healthcare and Hospitals in the Mission of the Church, which will release this fall.

Meanwhile, project editor Jennifer Trafton and a writing team including myself, Jennifer and Edwin Woodruff Tait, and Jennifer Trafton have finished work on “The history of hell: A brief history and resource guide.” You can check it out here.

Hell handbook cover – sneak preview


This is not final, but a sneak preview of one possible way the forthcoming (July 2011) “resource guide” to Christian thought on hell might look.

Medieval images and doctrines of hell


Dante's heavens and hells symbolised the astra...

Coppo di Marcovaldo, Hell (ca 1225 - 1274, Mosaic, Baptistry, Florence)

Folks, here’s a sneak preview of some work I did for the forthcoming Christian History magazine Handbook to Christian Thought on Hell. It’s not edited yet, but the guide, which will survey Christian thought on hell from the earliest church to the 21st century, will include something like what follows. If you are interested in getting the entire guide, which will be in a half-size  (roughly 5 x 8.5) magazine format complete with timeline and illustrations, go to www.christianhistorymagazine.org and get on the mailing list.

The Middle Ages

The medieval period (roughly 500 – 1500 AD) saw a shift in emphasis from the early church’s focus on the biblical “Last Things”—the Second Coming of Christ, general resurrection, and final judgment—to a new concentration on the afterlives of individuals. Until the 400s AD and even beyond (as in the thought of Gregory the Great (540 – 604)), the “Parousia” (second coming and all its associated events) was still expected imminently, and so those who died in the intervening generations could be thought of as simply sleeping or awaiting the resurrection. There simply wasn’t much written during this early period about the immediate fate of those who died before Jesus returned.

However as the Second Coming came to seem, potentially, more remote, the question of the reward of the saved and the punishment of the damned heated up, and the doctrine of the immediate judgment of each soul at death came into more prominence. The Book of Revelation in particular, which tremendously influenced medieval culture, began to be pressed into service to imagine the shape of people’s fate after death. As we will see, this emphasis on the afterlife and its support from the Book of Revelation resulted in a lavishly visual and grotesque new genre of imaginative literature: the vision of the otherworldly journey, of which Dante’s Divine Comedy was the pinnacle. Continue reading