Christianity and the Rise of the Individual


Ancient Greece: Classical Antiquity in Greece is preceded by the Greek Dark Ages (c. 1200 – c. 800 BC), archaeologically characterised by the protogeometric and geometric styles of designs on pottery. This period is succeeded, around the 8th century BC, by the Orientalizing Period during which a strong influence of Syro-Hittite, Jewish, Assyrian, Phoenician and Egyptian cultures becomes apparent. Traditionally, the Archaic period of ancient Greece is considered to begin with Orientalizing influence, which among other things brought the alphabetic script to Greece, marking the beginning of Greek literature (Homer, Hesiod). The end of the Dark Ages is also frequently dated to 776 BC, the year of the first Olympic Games. The Archaic period gives way to the Classical period around 500 BC, in turn succeeded by the Hellenistic period at the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC.

The Roman Empire27  BC  – 395  AD

The beginning of the Middle Ages: 476 AD

Pragmatic – dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Pagan – a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions. A derogatory term

Feudalism– the dominant social system in medieval Europe, in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord’s land and give him homage, labour, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection. A hierarchy system.

I.E. the noblemen were tenants of land owned by the lords/crown in exchange for military service. Peasants exchanged land for homage/labour/produce and would also receive military protection.

Subordinate – lower in rank or position

Vassal – a holder of land by feudal tenure on conditions of homage and allegiance OR a person or country in a subordinate position to another

Tenant – a person who occupies land or property rented from a landlord

There is much to be said for the view that the thousand years between the fall of the Roman empire and the emergence of the modern world is the most important strand of all in the weaving of our political texture. 

Magnate – a wealthy and influential businessman or businesswoman

Europe is the outcome of successive waves of migration by tribes pushed westwards by the pressures of others behind them. They were attracted by the evident prosperity and civilisation of the Roman empire. They were called: Huns, Goths, Visigoths, Angles, Franks and so on.. They were at first absorbed by the Roman structure but later disrupting and destroying it. These barbarians set up kingdoms of their own in the countryside and in time were converted to Christianity.

Province – a principal administrative division of a country or empire. For example, a district.

The early Middle Ages was a period of unrest. It took centuries for the old stability of the Roman era to return, partly because of the internal quarrels and partly because of the pressure of new wanderers (tribes) in search of land and security. (There were many fights between tribes for example, the Anglo-Saxons conquering England, only to find themselves attacked by the Danes and then the Normans. Civil order thus had to be reinvented and here we shall consider three of the elements out of which the civilisation of the high Middle Ages was constructed.

Primitive – Ancient or unsophisticated/basic

Exaction– the action of demanding and obtaining something from someone, especially a payment

Causation – the relationship between effect and cause; causality. i.e. “a strong association is not a proof of causation.”

Principality– can either be a monarchical feudatory or a sovereign state

Sovereign – a supreme ruler, especially a monarch // possessing supreme or ultimate power e.g. “in modern democracies the people’s will is in theory sovereign”

Sovereign state– A sovereign state is a state with borders where people live, and where a government makes laws and talks to other sovereign states. The people have to follow the laws that the government makes

Realm– a kingdom/ sovereign state/ monarchy etc.

Contingent – subject to chance // existing or occurring only if (certain circumstances) are the case; dependent on. “his fees were contingent on the success of his search.” “the contingent nature of the job.”

The political structure which emerged in Europe in the second half of the Middle Ages (by eleventh century AD) was one of mosaics of principalities ruled by dukes and counts, some independent trading cities, and the beginnings of realms out which we can, with hindsight, see the nation-states of Europe emerging.

To the historian, all things are contingent and the national order of European states solidified gradually out of whole successions of unpredictable event.

Kings intrigued, nobles fought wars and it was the intermixture of policy and accident that determined which among the variety of languages and cultures in Europe came to be identified with nations.

During the middle ages, the development of ‘courtly romance’  or ‘courtly love’ emerging in literature and created by writers and poets at the time spread spontaneously all through Europe. This, in conjunction with Christian theology, had grave consequences towards the placement of women in Western civilisation.

Courtly love is where a knight sets out to win the heart of a woman via nobility and chivalry. The women is merely an object of desire.

Fountain head– an original source of something.

Magna Carta – a symbol of liberty. It was a charter agreed by King John of England in the Middle Ages. A form of peace treaty.

The Magna Carta illustrates a central feature of European development: rights and liberties were first elaborated by and commonly in the interests of, the nobility and the richer inhabitants of the towns, and then only dry slowly filtered down, over the generations, to lower levels of society. The voter of today, in other words, inherits the rights first sustained by the barons of old. Democracy has thus emerged in European states out of an organic development which sustains it at a profound level.

Exigency – an urgent need or demand.

Republic (archaic term) – a group with a certain equality between its members

Republic (modern term) – a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch

Custodian – a person who has responsibility for taking care of or protecting something

Heresies – variance from the accustomed/tradition/orthodox religious beliefs

Sectarianism -excessive attachment to a particular sect or party, especially in religion

Inquisition – The Inquisition was a group of institutions within the government system of the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy. It started in 12th-century France to combat religious sectarianism, in particular the Cathars and the Waldensians

Emblem – a heraldic device or symbolic object as a distinctive badge of a nation, organization, or family

Enfeeble – make weak or feeble

Vitality – liveliness, being strong and active

Ordained – make (someone) a priest or minister; confer holy orders on

Layman – a non-ordained male member of a Church OR a person without professional or specialized knowledge in a particular subject

Zeal – dedication or enthusiasm for something

Pietism Movement

Though few groups today would identify themselves as Pietist, there are actually a large number of modern churches which have been significantly impacted by Pietist teaching. Pietism is a movement within Christianity that attempts to focus on individual holiness and a consistent Christian life. It is typically led by laymen or local pastors who are frustrated with the perceived hypocrisy or inconsistency within the larger church. There have been a number of Pietist movements, each one leading to the development of new denominations or fellowships.

Jan Hus, a preacher in the 1400s in what is now the Czech Republic, was one of the earliest leaders of the Pietist movement. He was influenced by the teachings of John Wycliffe, and sought to reform the Bohemian church. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415 on a charge of heresy. Though his personal ministry was short-lived, Hus’s reform efforts had long-term effects, as Martin Luther himself was influenced by Hus’s teachings. The modern Moravian or Bohemian Brethren Church (825,000 members) is traced directly back to the followers of Jan Hus.

The Pietist movement had a hand in the formation of the Lutheran Church, and then in the 1670s it led to a reform movement within that church. Philipp Jakob Spener, who had been influenced by Pietist and Waldensian teachers, was convinced of the need for a moral and religious reformation within German Lutheranism. He saw a rigid orthodoxy sapping the zeal from the Christian life of the church. To counter that, he began meetings in his home where he encouraged personal and small-group Bible study, involvement in church leadership by laymen, and a preaching style which would implant Christianity in the inner man and result in visible fruits of good works. Many of these Lutherans stayed within the church and attempted to enact these reforms. Others left and formed a variety of new churches, most of them with names including the term “Brethren.” Swedish Lutherans who were influenced by Spener’s teachings came to America and formed the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Evangelical Free Church of America. In England, the Pietist movement impacted John Wesley, who began the Methodist movement


Hostile– showing or feeling opposition or dislike; unfriendly or it can just mean opposed e.g. “people are very hostile to the idea”

Crusade– each of a series of medieval military expeditions made by Europeans to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. or in modern century: a vigorous campaign for political, social, or religious change.

The real significance Christianity had for political life lay in its transformation of human values. 

Christianity affirmed the equal value in the sight of God of each human soul. And the value of each individual lay not in his or her participation in universal reason, but in a personality which responded to the challenge of sin.

Universal reason – Universal reason is something that philosophers think is at the bottom of a thinking system that allows it to understand certain natural things that are generally complex.

The idea of a Universal Reason implies an underpinning system of perception and conception of all forms of complexity. Many philosophers over the years have dealt with or relate to this idea in their writings. In recent years, the idea of a universal reason has been brought up in discussions of artificial intelligence and other topics regarding consciousness for it provides a stage of universality for a mechanistic description of thought.

Reason in philosophy– Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.

Passions in philosophy – In philosophy and religion the passions are the instinctive, emotional, primitive drives in a human being (including, for example, lust, anger, aggression and jealousy) which a human being must restrain, channel, develop and sublimate in order to be possessed of wisdom.

Sublimate – divert or modify


The Renaissance was a period in European history, from the 14th to the 17th century, regarded as the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and modern history. It started as a cultural movement in Italy in the Late Medieval period and later spread to the rest of Europe, marking the beginning of the Early Modern Age.

Niccolò Machiavelli – writer of discourses. He was an Italian Renaissance historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist, and writer. He has often been called the founder of modern political science. Lived 1469-1527.

Virtue – behaviour showing high moral standards

Paragon – a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality. // a person or thing viewed as a model of excellence

Aversion – strong dislike or disinclination

Fundamentalist – a person who believes in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture in a religion or in general elating to or advocating strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline.

Adhere – believe and follow the practices of

Stoicism – “is the plow that digs deep and turns the soil of troubled psyches upside down to expose our misguided thoughts and misdirected desires and aversions.”

Protestantism – occurred in the sixteenth century (1500s-1600s) Protestantism is a form of Christianity which originated with the Reformation, a movement against what its followers considered to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church.

Christendom has several meanings. In a contemporary sense it may refer to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity

Main difference been protestant and catholic church – Protestants believe the bible is sufficient whereas Catholics believe the Bible alone is insufficient. Catholics also use rosary beads.

Christianity turned human attention away from political conquest and the material things of the world towards the cultivation of the inner life, and the emergence of the modern world is the slow construction of a society in which that concern with the inner life could fully parallel involvement with the world. The modern world is of course, a dynamic process, and individualism in this sense has perhaps long passed its peak, but its debris is still to be found around us, in popular books about how to attain happiness by inner fulfilment and in the popularity of the idea of human rights, which would not be conceivable except as the outcome of the tortuous journey of Christian theology.

Dioceses – a district under the pastoral care of a bishop in the Christian Church

Pastoral care is an ancient model of emotional and spiritual support that can be found in all cultures and traditions

Romulus was the legendary founder and first king of Rome.

Secular – not connected with religious or spiritual matters

The Christian religion transformed the Roman empire and allowed new spiritual shoots to grow amid the decay of its civil (collective power of the people) and military power. The Roman empire in the west turned itself into the Roman Catholic Church, Roman provinces became dioceses, the Pope rising in power as the Emperor declined, the Roman foundational myth of Romulus coming to be focused on Jesus as the founder of the City of God, and the distinctions of Roman law being exploited to make sense of the relations between the Old Testament and the revelation of Jesus.

By the eleventh century, the Pope could fight the most secular rulers on equal terms and control high affairs of state. The very architecture of Europe was dominated by the vast cathedrals of the towns, and by the churches found in every village from the Mediterranean to the shores of the Baltic.

Papal – relating to a pope or to the papacy

Papacy – the office or authority of the Pope. “relations between the English state and the papacy” OR the tenure of office of a pope. “during the papacy of Pope John”

A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a new Bishop of Rome

The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1377 during which seven successive popes resided in Avignon(then in the Kingdom of Arles, part of the Holy Roman Empire, now in France) rather than in Rome.[1] The situation arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown.

Following the strife between Philip IV of France and Pope Boniface VIII and the death of his successor Benedict XIafter only eight months in office, a deadlocked conclave finally elected Clement V, a Frenchman, as Pope in 1305. Clement declined to move to Rome, remaining in France, and in 1309, he moved his court to the papal enclave at Avignon, where it remained for the next 67 years. The absence from Rome is sometimes referred to as the “Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy”.[2][3] A total of seven popes reigned at Avignon; all were French,[4][5] and they increasingly fell under the influence of the French Crown. Finally, on September 13, 1376, Gregory XI abandoned Avignon and moved his court to Rome (arriving on January 17, 1377), officially ending the Avignon Papacy.

Indelibly – in a way that cannot be removed or forgotten.

Bureaucracy – a system of government in which most of the important decisions are taken by state officials rather than by elected representatives

Bureaucrat – an official in a government department, in particular one perceived as being concerned with procedural correctness at the expense of people’s needs. “the unemployed will be dealt with not by faceless bureaucrats but by individuals”


Christianity and the Rise of the Individual

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