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Belief and Religion in Barbarian Europe C. 350-700by Marilyn Dunn
Synopses & Reviews
This ground-breaking study offers a new paradigm for understanding the beliefs and religions of the Goths, Burgundians, Sueves, Franks and Lombards as they converted from paganism to Christianity between c.350 and c.700 CE. Combining history and theology with approaches drawn from the cognitive science of religion, Belief and Religion in Barbarian Europe uses both written and archaeological evidence to challenge many older ideas. Beginning with a re-examination of our knowledge about the deities and rituals of their original religions, it goes on to question the assumption that the Germanic peoples were merely passive recipients of Christian doctrine, arguing that so-called ‘Arianism was first developed as an ‘entry-level Christianity for the Goths.
Focusing on individual ethnic groupings in turn, it presents a fresh view of the relationship between religion and politics as their rulers attempted to opt for Catholicism. In place of familiar debates about post-conversion ‘pagan survivals, contemporary texts and legislation are analysed to create an innovative cognitive perspective on the ways in which the Church endeavoured to bring the Christian God into peoples thoughts and actions. The work also includes a survey of a wide range of written and archaeological evidence, contrasting traditional conceptions of death, afterlife and funerary ritual with Christian doctrine and practice in these areas and exploring some of the techniques developed by the Church for assuaging popular anxieties about Christian burial and the Christian afterlife.
Challenging the accepted historical belief that they were mere passive recipients of Christian doctrine and providing insights into the way they would initially have apprehended a very different type of religion in the light of their own beliefs and intuitions, the book also examines the gradual adjustments which the Christian Church itself was forced to make across the period in order to consolidate large-scale conversions.
Drawing on an exceptionally wide range of source material offering new approaches to evidence drawn from writers such as Tacitus, Ambrose, Augustine, Jordanes, as well as the Indiculus Superstitionum, and Pirmins Scarapsus, it supplements these with material drawn from liturgical texts, hagiography, homilies, ecclesiastical and royal legislation and also from European folklore, interpreted in the light of latest theory to provide an authoritative overview of the period.
About the Author
Marilyn Dunn is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Glasgow, UK
Table of Contents
Introduction \ 1. Looking at Belief \ 2. Paganism and the Living \ 3. ‘Entry-Level Christianity': Christian Doctrine and popular intuitions \ 4. The Dead in Popular Belief \ 5. Christianity and Death \ 6. The Consolidation of Christianity by the Church \ 7. People and peoples \ Conclusion \ Bibliography \ Index
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