The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity

The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity : A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation

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European Christians think of their religion as the "normal" expression of Christianity, in contrast to such ethnic offshoots as the Maronite, Coptic, or Russian Orthodox faiths. In fact, however, as James Russell here shows, Europeanized Christianity is highly adapted, arising from the early interaction of Mediterranean Christianity with Northern European culture. This book takes a close look at the ways in which Christianity changed in order to win the allegiance of the Germanic and Anglo-Saxon peoples. Russell argues that the Northern peoples were far more resistant to conversion than the disaffected, urban populace of the Roman Empire had been. Unlike their Mediterranean counterparts, the Northerners displayed a high level of social solidarity. As a result, Russell contends, considerable cultural accommodation was necessary for Christianity to take hold in the Germanic context. In the process of exploring the nature of these changes, Russell develops a suggestive new model of the ways in which religious change occurs in any culture.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 25.4mm | 589.67g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195076966
  • 9780195076967
  • 1,698,763

Review quote

There is much food for thought in this book. * Modern Language Studies, 56 (1994) 1996 * Insightfully treating the confrontation between Roman Christianity and Germanic paganism and its resolution, James C. Russell gets to the nub of the matter and probides a basis for a better understanding of what transpired. He thus provides his readers with conceptual tools that will assist them toward understanding othe confrontations between Christianity and non-Christian cultures. It is an excellent contribution to early medieval and church history studies....stimulating and provocative... Russell has carefully charted some difficult waters. * The Historian * `In my opinion the book is very good ... it truly stimulates thought and deserves publication. It throws the clear light of carefully done history on a subject that is both troublesome and dimly understood.' G. Ronald Murphy, German, Georgetown Universityshow more

Back cover copy

While historians of Christianity have generally acknowledged some degree of Germanic influence in the development of early medieval Christianity, Russell goes further, arguing for a fundamental Germanic transformation of Christianity. This first full-scale treatment of the subject follows a truly interdisciplinary approach, applying to the early medieval period a sociohistorical method similar to that which has already proven fruitful in explicating the history of Early Christianity and Late Antiquity. The encounter of the Germanic peoples with Christianity is studied from within the larger context of the encounter of a predominantly "world-accepting" Indo-European folk-religiosity with predominantly "world-rejecting" religious movements. While the first part of the book develops a general model of religious transformation for such encounters, the second part applies this model to the Germano-Christian scenario. Russell shows how a Christian missionary policy of temporary accommodation inadvertently contributed to a reciprocal Germanization of Christianity. Applying insights from the behavioral sciences and Indo-European studies to analyze this pivotal transformation of the West, this book will interest students and scholars of religion, history, sociology, and social psychology, as well as those who wish to further their understanding of the history of Christianity and of Western civilization.show more

About James C. Russell

Ph.D. Fordham University, 1990show more

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