1. Defining periods in history can be difficult. “Middle Ages”, “Renaissance,” and “modern period” are ambiguous terms

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Lesson 40 - Summary of The Middle Ages and the Renaissance - 500-1500

1.Defining periods in history can be difficult

2.. “Middle Ages”, “Renaissance,” and “modern period” are ambiguous terms.

3.Middle Ages refers to the development of theology during the dark ages to the time of the Reformation.

4.Renaissance refers to designate the literary and artistic revival in the fourteenth century.

5.The period under consideration gives rise to two of the most important intellectual movements in the history of thought:



8.An understanding of both of these movements demonstrates their intrical nature to the rise of the Reformation.


  1. Refers to “schoolman” such as Duns Scotus.

10.Many humanists used this term as a negative connotation toward the Middle Ages

11.May be defined as the period between 1200-1500 which placed a hearty emphasis on the rational justification of religious beliefs, and the systematic presentation of those beliefs

12.Scholasticism does not refer to a specific system of beliefs, but to a particular way of systematizing theological ideas.

13.Types of scholasticism range from:

  1. Realism (where concepts actually have their foundation in the supernatural realm)

14. Nominalism (which focuses in on the particulars, not the universal, nature of a thing).

15.Two major schools emerged from these idea

  1. Thomism (following Aquinas)

16.Scotism (following Duns Scotus).

17.Via moderna (the modern way)

  1. Is the best way of depicting nominalism for modern scholars.

  2. Among thinkers in this genre are:

  1. William of Ockham

18.Pierre d’Ally

19.Robert Holcot

20. Gabriel Biel.

  1. This ideology made many inroads to the European universities and tended to be Pelagian in nature.

  2. Strongholds of the modern way was the University of Oxford

  3. Its rebuttal is seen from men like Bradwardine.

  1. Bradwardine wrote a scathing attack against Oxford’s modern way entitled The Case of God Against Pelagius.

21.Bradwardine’s ideas were later advanced by John Wickliffe and Gregory of Rimini.

22.These men were more theologically sound and followed the schola Augustina moderna, or the modern school of Augustine’s writings.

23.Humanism also emerged later in the Middle Ages.

  1. Today this term means that which is secular, or that which is opposed to God, and the existence of God.

24.In the time of the Renaissance this is not what it meant. Humanism seemed to be a reaction against scholasticism.

25.Encompassing everything from Platonic views to Aristotelian.

26.Humanism was essentially a cultural program, which appealed to classical antiquity as a model of eloquence.

  1. This humanism affected countries and key figures in those countries.

  1. Switzerland it affected Ulrich Zwingli,

27. France, John Calvin

28. England Robert Barnes at Oxford


  1. One of the most significant movements to emerge during the Middle Ages was Monasticism.

  2. Began in the remote areas of Egypt and eastern Syria

  3. Ideology of this movement surrounded a withdrawal from the sinful and distracting world to abide within a given community together for the common spiritual good (common life = vita communis).

  4. Members agreed to submit themselves to a common life that was regulated by an Abbot who ruled over them.

  1. The physical structure of the monastery was more like a fortress than a home.

  2. By the fifth century many of these communities had become established in Italy, Spain and Gaul.

  3. Augustine of Hippo established two monasteries in North Africa during 400-425.

  4. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480-c. 500) established a monastery at Monte Cassino where the “Rule of Benedict” became common among the Benedictine communities

30.These monasteries were centers for theological activity and are important to historical Christianity in the transmission and study of theology and biblical texts.

31.Celtic Christians

  1. Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, Brittany and Wales arose the Celtic Christians.

  2. One man who was set on evangelizing Ireland was named Magonus Sucatus Patricus, or as commonly known, “Patrick” (c. 390-460).

  1. He was born into a wealthy family

32.Taken by bandits as a captive during a raiding party and sold into slavery in Ireland.

33.Here he discovered the basics of the Christian faith

34.Then after being released from captivity six years later, desired to return to Ireland to evangelize the country

  1. Many monasteries arose that were centers of missionary activity.

  2. Men like Brandon (died c. 580) and Columba (died c. 597) evangelized the northern coasts of Scotland and the western city if Iona.

  3. 700 A.D. Celtic Christianity had stopped its growth and began to decline. This marks the dawn of a new age called the Middle Ages or the age of intellectual consolidation

  4. The Caliphate, and Islamic region, continued to see the growth of the Islamic nation, but was finally halted by the Moors in Spain in the final decade of the fifteenth century and the defeat of the Islamic armies outside Vienna in 1523.

35.“Great schism.”

  1. Event that was catastrophic for the history of the united church

  1. Over the wording and theological ideas surrounding the filioque clause in the Nicene creed (that the Spirit proceeded from both the Father and the Son, and not just the Father) the Greek church broke away from the western Church.

36.The Catholic Church (the one true church) and the Orthodox church (now claiming the right to being the one true church) broke apart and was never united again.

  1. Tension was so great at this time that there was little, if any, theological interaction from that time forward between the Western church and the Eastern theologians who broke away.

37.Key theologians and scholars who marked that era

  1. Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) Italy

  1. Appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.

38.He wrote the Proslogian, which purports the ontological argument for God.

  1. Peter Abelard (c. 1079-1142) France

  1. Teacher at the University of Paris.

39. His most noted work is his emphasis upon the subjective aspects of the atonement.

  1. High of St. Victor (died 11.42) Flemish or German

  1. Most important work is de sacramentis Christianae fidei which means, On the sacrament of the Christian Faith

40.Shows the awareness of the new theological debates that were beginning to develop at this time.

  1. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-74), known as the “dumb ox” for being portly, Italy

  1. Summa Theologica – one of the most widely known scholastic works during the Middle Ages.

41.The work is divided into three parts:

42.Part I deals chiefly with God the creator

43. Part II with the restoration of humanity to God

44.Part III with the manner in which the person and work of Christ bring about salvation on humanity.

  1. Duns Scotus (c. 1265-1308) at Oxford and Paris

  1. Was one of the finest minds of the day.

45.Wrote three commentaries on the Sentences and is known as the “subtle doctor” because of his ability to define things precisely

46.Champion of the “doctrine” of the immaculate conception of Mary.

  1. William of Ockham (c. 1285-1347)

  1. Contributed to the Middle Ages in two ways –

47. Through the principle of parsimony

48.As a vigorous defender of nominalism

  1. Erasmus of Rotterdam (c. 1469-1536)

  1. Regarded as the most important humanist of the age.

49.Though Erasmus was not a Protestant, he was greatly influential upon Protestantism

50.One of these was his translation of the Greek New Testament.

51. He was able to produce many of the scholarly patristic works, especially those of Augustine.

52.He also wrote the Enchiridion, which became a bestseller, and began reforming echoes at Zurich and Wittenberg.

53.In such influences it is said that Luther hatched the egg that Erasmus laid.

54.Key theological developments that took place within the framework of the Middle Ages.

  1. First, there was the consolidation of the Patristic Heritage.

55.Secondly, the exploration of the role of reason in theology took a turn to systematize and expand what Christian theology was all about. Here one finds the theory of method emerging, and the term “apologetics” born.

56.Thirdly, there was the increasing development of theological systems as a whole emerging. These were deemed by scholastics as “cathedrals of the mind.”

57.Fourthly, sacramental theology also grew, as well as,

58. Fifthly, a theology of grace and the doctrine of grace returning to the teaching of Augustine, and ultimately the Bible.

59.Sixthly, and very importantly, a return to the original sources had begun (ad fontes) in order to think and write critically on the source documents of a given text.

60.Seventhly, there came about, as a result of the ad fontes trend, a critique of the Vulgate translation of the Bible (the Latin vulgate was a translation done of the Bible, and of the apocryphal books by Jerome, and used heavily by the Roman Church).

61.Eastern Church

  1. Two notations are of importance:

  1. 1) The controversy over images, or the iconoclastic controversy raged from 725-742.

  1. Emperor Leo III (c. 717-742) decided to destroy all images and icons because he thought they were barriers to the conversion of the Jews and of Muslims.

62.Some theologians fought to return these images to help in a devotee’s faith (men like Gregory Palamas (c. 1296-1359).

63.Others wanted the images destroyed believing it to be sacrilege to erase the Creator/creature distinction in that God could be “seen” and a violation of the 2nd commandment.

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