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Medieval Christianity: A New History


[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to the Center for
the Study of World religions. For those of you who are
new, welcome if you’re here for the first time. My name is Frank Clooney. I’m the director of the center
and very happy to see everybody here tonight to discuss
this splendid book, Medieval Christianity, a New
History by Kevin Madigan. Just a word of background,
that the center, in many ways, on all kinds of topics, has
discussions, conversations, a sharing of ideas. And one of the most
enjoyable, I think for me, and I think for many who
are regulars at our events, is the faculty book series. It’s such an obvious
and statement of fact about how the
academic world works is that we meet at meetings. We do departmental
business and so on. We know a little bit about
each other’s teaching. But all those
weekends hidden away, and all those
early morning times when we’re not answering
email or the phone, or all those summers when
we hide out somewhere, we’re doing the research
that turns into our books. And in the past so often, when
a book came out, oh, great book, great cover. And that would be the end of it. And I think part of what this
series is really dedicated to is just to stop for a
moment to not only celebrate the fact of a new
book when it comes, but a chance to look inside
it and to kind of get into the spirit of how
the book came about. We’ve had– I think this is the
fourth of our events next year. My own humble book
is next Monday. So if you can come back
on Monday, please do come. But every book session– we
already have three, I think, planned– in planning for the fall. Every book session brings out
the interest, the expertise of the author, the
problem of the field, the nature of the project
as it’s been taken up. And tonight we have a wonderful
example of this with somebody so daring and so bold as to do
medieval Christianity in how many pages? 437. 400–OK. [LAUGHTER] So– [INAUDIBLE] No mean task. And we have– I’ll introduce
our respondents, Amy Hollywood and Luis Giron-Negron
after we start. But let me begin first by
introducing Kevin Madigan, who will come up and then talk about
the book, how it came about, perhaps some of the issues
that drove him to write it, the interest, interesting
issues that came up, challenges and so
on along the way. Kevin is a well-known
member of our faculty, who needs no introduction,
but nonetheless will get one. The Winn Professor
of Ecclesiastical History here at the
Divinity School, a PhD from the University
of Chicago, he is a historian of medieval
Christian practice, religious practice and thought. Began teaching here at Harvard
Divinity School in the year 2000, and in 2009 was
named the Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History. He’s also served
as associate dean for faculty and academic
affairs from 2012 to 2014. He’s also an editor with Jon
Levenson of Harvard Theological Review, a great service
to our community. His books are many. Just to point out a few
of these publications, 2003, Olivi and
the Interpretation of Matthew in the
High Middle Ages; 2005, Ordained Women
in the Early Church, A Documentary History;
2007, The Passions of Christ in High
Medieval Thought, An Essay on Christological
Development; 2005, with Carolyn Osiek,
coauthored book, Ordained Women in
the Early Church, A Documentary History; in
2008, with Jon Levenson, Resurrection, the Power of
God for Christians and Jews; and already has plans
for next year in Rome and another book on the
way, which he may or may not tell you about. I can only say tonight
that I’m thinking, oh, the medieval Christianity, I
know a lot about this topic already. This will be a
straightforward session. Reading parts of it– I’m not a respondent, but
reading parts of it, incredibly learned, incredibly
full of rich detail, and striving to use the
latest historiographical ways of reading, popular history,
ecclesiastical history, so many levels and
so many new angles brought out between the covers. There are many wonderful
quotes on the back cover. I’ll pass the book around. You can take a look at them. But I was doing a little
bit of looking online, just to finish off my part here. One of the reviews, by Thomas
Filbin at The Arts Fuse, “Madigan’s scholarly but
compelling exposition of the evolution of the church
will spark introspection among practicing Christians. While for nonbelievers,
the volume paints a portrait of
how systems of belief can shape people and societies.” Steve Donoghue at the
Open Letters Monthly has a much longer comment. And I’ll just read
you a few passages. First of all, he calls
the book Kevin Madigan’s crowning scholarly achievement. I think I’ll write him a
note and say, “not so.” [LAUGHTER] There is more to come. “–is a wonderful book, but he
is unfair to himself by calling it a textbook, for Madigan has
succeeded more thoroughly than he’s willing to claim. Medieval Christianity
is not simply a helpful modern
classroom supplement. It’s a landmark of popular
history in its own right.” He goes on to say, “this
500-page book could have been a 1,500
page book and is a wonderful book in which
Madigan consistently humanizes proceedings. He’s a sensitive and insightful
assessor of character. It’s one of the
book’s main delights to watch him read between the
lines of his copious source materials. Medieval Christianity
may be on some levels the textbook the
author calls it, but it’s actually
much more than that. It’s a narrative history
of the first quality, a probingly researched
and well written account of the most appallingly
successful theocracy in history. Madigan captures the
power of it and also the multi-faceted
humanity of it all. And he does it in a way that the
curious general reader, and not just the poor overworked
undergraduate, will find page-turningly
fascinating. If you want one rock solid book
on church history, this is it.” So I will now pass the buck
around and turn things over to Kevin Madigan. Kevin. [APPLAUSE] Well, good afternoon, everybody. I’d like to thank Frank for
that very kind introduction and for– and to Lexi for the
invitation to discuss my book with two honored colleagues
and with all of you present here tonight. As most of you know,
and as Frank mentioned, the title of my book is Medieval
Christianity, a New History. That was not the title I
had originally envisaged. Little did I know that
the title A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was– that title was already taken. So I went with the more
straightforward one. In any case, let me say
something right away about that, perhaps risky,
perhaps cheeky choice of the adjective
“new” in the title. The choice was a
bit fraught for me because no disrespect was
intended to the narrative histories that preceded
it, and because I was afraid to appear arrogant. I’d just like to
point out now that I felt as if I had to include
that adjective in the title, not just because of
the new material that appeared in the book, but
also, and equally importantly, because of the way I
wanted to tell the story, because of the way I did tell
the story, because of the way I arranged and just
juxtaposed features and figures from this
period so as to tell a story that’s familiar to
many in a somewhat novel way. And we can return
to that issue later, how I told the
story, if you wish. For now I would just like
to situate my own views and thus those expressed in
my book historiographically and to say something about
how those historiographical influences and investment’s
shaped my choices, not only of historical and thematic
inclusion and exclusion, but also of organization and
the aesthetics of storytelling. OK? Now, needless to say,
many narrative histories written before 1970, say, and
even some written since then were, while deeply learned and
fully competent insofar as they went, were, if I
might put it this way, less than fully
inspiring or inspired. But I do want to stress
how erudite all of– most of their authors were. Historians of Christianity
typically laid out the institutional
developments of Christianity, or I should say “Church”
with an uppercase C. Thus, they characteristically,
and not wrongly, emphasized, for example, the history
of the papacy above all as the red thread that linked
the long medieval centuries. Spent many chapters on
the rise and development of monastic and religious
orders, and for good reasons. After all, these
historians were– these histories,
rather, were often authored by those
whose own orders originated in the Middle Ages
and whose medieval documents were normative for their
own life, and practice, and self-understanding. These authors are often also
stressed the papacy’s conflict with various political powers,
especially the German empire. And they focus a
lot of attention on medieval thought, in which
I’m not at all uninterested, especially as it was seen,
anachronistically actually, to have culminated in
Thomas Aquinas, who it often went unmentioned
was condemned twice within three years of
his death, including the year of his death. They also wrote about heresy. And when they
wrote about heresy, it was with the understanding
that heretics were so obviously deviant and worthy of whatever
punishment was meted out to them by crusaders,
inquisitors, or other church authorities that that
question didn’t even need to be discussed. The church was usually seen as
an unproblematically powerful institution. If issues of belief
were examined, it was usually as evidence
for their assumed strength and simplicity. Thus the Middle
Ages were sometimes nostalgically celebrated for
their laudable premodernity as a great “age of faith.” There was little attention– no attention really– paid to
issues of doubt or disbelief, a problem, by the way,
that despite my interest in this issue, plagues
my own book as well. Now a major change in the
historiography occurred right around 1970, when we move,
let’s say, from church history to the history of Christianity,
and to use a local term, lived religion. Or as the French put it, even
before our esteemed colleagues in American history
“religion vecue.” Now medieval Christianity
was no longer studied primarily via its formal
institutions and its theology. Rather it was looked at as
part of the world in which it flourished. Economic, social,
and cultural factors we’re treated more prominently. And the role and the
experience of the masses was seen as an important
part of the story. I should say, by
way of the exception to the rules of
history that prevailed before 1970, that already
in 1935, Herbert Grundmann volume– 1935 volume, revised
in 1955 and then finally translated
into English in 1995 under the title Religious
Movements of the Middle Ages, which Professor Hollywood
knows very well. This book adumbrated
some of the developments, but did not really
influence the story are the historiography
of medieval religion until the decades after 1970. In this volume,
and in his essays, Grundmann attempted to look
at medieval Christianity free from the traditional
and often value-laden frames that much other
scholarship had inherited, especially at the
time he was writing. He provided a powerful
example and tools for thinking about religious
belief from the ground up, rather than from within
the established boundaries of later institutions. As a result, he
successfully proved, to take just one example,
that the aims and aspirations of orthodox and
heretical movements, far from veering off in
different directions, often converged, especially
at the level of practice. Almost uniquely among
scholars of his time, he included much about
the particular roles of women and their place
in a number of areas in medieval Christianity. In fact, the narrative
history I wrote could not have been written
without Grundmann first. And it’s everywhere, if
mutely indebted to the modes of history, which took
their inspiration from him. Now key figures in the move
from the ecclesiastical history to lived religion were British
communists and their journals, and above all, studies centered
on the French journal, Annales, also strongly socialist if
not doctrinally Marxist. So for example, in the works
of Marc Bloch and others, an historian whom
you all know, we find profound analyzes of how
religion, society, and culture could be integrated rather
than the traditional kind of institutional
history of the Church about which I’ve been speaking. Now the focus on lived
religion I should notice was also moved forward
later in the century by the reform in the 1960s
of Roman Catholicism. Just as that reform increasingly
placed the laity at the heart with the church, contemporary
reformers, who were also medievalists, for example,
the Dominican Yves Congar encouraged reflection, not
only on the ecclesiology of the medieval church, but on
the role of the laity in it. The gauntlet laid down
by Congar was taken up by many others, perhaps most
notably by fellow Frenchman Etienne Delaruelle,
whose title of collected essays published
in 1975 says quite a lot about the new directions
in medieval studies. The title of this book was
Popular Piety in the Middle Ages, “popular”
here not referring– I don’t need to emphasize to
you– to fashion or to acclaim, but to the populace,
to the people, the people of the parish. Now this brings me to Oxford’s
high Anglican medievalist R.W. Southern. Now Southern clearly felt
a very strong affinity with medieval intellectuals
and historians and would eventually write
influential and beautifully on some of them, like
Anselm of Canterbury. Yet it was his contribution
to the Penguin Series on the History of the Church,
the first volume of which was authored by his fellow
Oxfordian Henry Chadwick that, as I explicitly indicated
in the acknowledgments to my book, marked both
a beginning and an end. Southern entitled his 1970
volume Western Society and the Church in
the Middle Ages. Now those of you in this
room who have read it, and I know many of
you have, will surely agree that the first part
of that title “on society” meant a great deal to Southern. And he emphasized that
we had to understand it if we wanted to understand
how Christianity, medieval Christianity,
developed over time. He communicated powerfully
and in admirably crisp prose the importance of thinking
about “the Church” as something more than a formal institution,
isolated in space and time. The result, I think,
was an enormously successful– and
many others think– an enormously successful and
influential analysis that not only covered the growing
power of the papacy, relations with eastern Christendom,
bishops and archbishops, the Benedictines,
Cistercians, and friars, but included in a 360-page
volume, some 20 or so pages on women, especially
Cistercian women and Beguines. And I say that as a
compliment, although it may not sound like one, as he
was among the first to give any attention at all
to women in the Middle Ages. That said, the book
marked an end too, as it was just– as the
book was making its mark, that many new areas of inquiry
in medieval Christianity, especially study of the thought,
social roles, agency, practices and writings of women
began to explode. Much effort was just
then being invested in the study of the laity. Here the gardening
question– as well– here the guiding question
was how successful the church had been at
communicating its faith out beyond the clergy, how
good it was, so to speak, at being an institution. Here the slippery
term “Christianize” was often brought
into play, sometimes meaning catechetical
rigor, the depth of belief, or sometimes a more diffuse
sense of cultural hegemony. As many of you will know, the
French historian [? Jean ?] [? de ?] [? Lameaux ?]
provocatively argued that the laity of the Middle Ages
was never Christianized. Indeed he maintained
that it was only after the reforms of
the Council of Trent, with its renewed program
of pastoral instruction and discipline, that a properly
“Catholic” Christianity took hold in Europe and a fully
“Christian” set of beliefs embedded itself in the
ordinary household. Under the influence of changing
trends in anthropology, later medievalists,
who could trace their roots to the
Annales school, and most notably Jacques
le Goff and his fellow Frenchman Jean-Claude
Schmitt largely agreed with and forwarded this view,
distinguishing sharply, perhaps too sharply, between
folkloristic culture as distinct from
Orthodox Christianity. By and large,
Anglophone historians– and I would include
myself among these– were not persuaded that it
was all that fruitful to look to the very margins to the
superstitious and the folkloric in order to attempt
to appreciate the whole, or at least
one layer of culture. In a hugely influential article,
Americanist John Van Engen of Notre Dame
attacked what he then saw as the overly schematic “two
cultures” view of the Annales group, of the Annales
of le Goff and so forth. He argued that this view
quoted far too much importance to a few unrepresentative
figures and movements, like superstitious
peasants, and that it fantasized a cultural gulf
between clergy and laity. Now on the positive
side Van Engen’s desire was to see the agency
of the laity explored, not only in regard to
the notionally folkloric or in ways that resisted
orthodox culture, but as active participants
in the creation of orthodoxy itself. This, I think, was on the mark. The laity were participants
in and in some ways active shapers of
orthodoxy, a theme that’s been explored by mostly
anglophone historians like, just to take
one example, Katherine French in her recent work
on parochial religion, or Walter Simon’s accounts of
Beguine lives and practices in the late medieval
low countries. Now since the publication
of Southern’s book, the increasing focus
on society and culture led to more reflection on issues
of gender, the body, sexuality, social status, and even
cultural resistance, if more nuance than simply
one folkloric culture opposed to a single clerical culture. One thinks, for example, the
great volume of excellent work done on heresy and heretics
by people like R.I. Moore, Edward Peters, Malcolm
Lambert, and Gordon Leff. The discussion of culture
has flowered happily into many directions, drawing
increasingly upon literary, art and historical,
archaeological, and even musicological expertise. The exploration of
culture has sometimes taken us further into
the world of the laity, as with, for example, work on
saints and especially miracle stories by Michael Goodich,
Robert Bartlett, and others. The cultural turn
is well exemplified by the work of
London’s Miri Rubin and her book Corpus Christi. So where the Eucharist had once
been discussed almost entirely in these sort of stratospheric
categories of the metaphysics of presence, under the
influence of the cultural turn, Rubin turned her focus to
Eucharistic processions and to the ways in
which they function in medieval European
religious communities. At the same time, work done
on religious virtuosos, namely visionaries and
mystics, some of it by colleagues in this room,
exploded during these decades and has been among the most
fruitful new areas of medieval Christianity, one that
brings its students to an intersection of
intellectual history, ritual practice, devotion,
and very often gender and male and female
relationships. In recent years, there
has been ever more nuanced and insightful work
into the nature of medieval piety, the feel and
experience of medieval faith. This too has been quite
interdisciplinary in nature, coming from literary
scholarship, archeological study,
art, and musical history. It has, so far as I’m concerned,
brought a welcome focus to the senses, to the emotions,
to interaction between people and material culture,
to the experience of moving within sacred
spaces, handling holy objects, and reflecting
inwardly on the divine. A special interest of mine,
but hardly only of mine, has been relations between
Jews and Christians throughout the
Middle Ages, which, contrary to popular perceptions,
were quite often cordial. And especially since 9/11, there
has been deepening interest in medieval
historiography between– on the issue of– [CLEARS THROAT] excuse me–
Muslim-Christian relations, Christian perceptions of Islam,
and so forth, most of which were really wrong and
intentionally passed on, even though Christians
knew that they were wrong. So, for example, Christians
knew that Muslims were not polytheists, but they still
said they’re polytheists, as John knows very well. Many scholars, under the
influence of Heiko Oberman, have tried to work back and
forth across the Reformation, identifying forerunners or
precursors in the 15th century and medieval elements,
on the other hand, in the theology of Luther and
other magisterial reformers. So to bring my remarks
to a conclusion, from these different
currents in historiography, the following have
been most influential on me and my scholarship
generally and in this book in particular– first, the concentration
on practice rather than, or in addition to, dogmatic
formulae or the development of theology, which is, as I say,
something in which I am deeply interested in, on which,
as Frank mentioned, I’ve actually written;
second, parochial rather than prolatical Christianity, or a
focus on the laity rather than, or in addition to,
important popes and princes of the church; third, an
emphasis on the coherence, if not coincidence, often
of orthodox and heretical religious aspiration– and
this I take, of course, right from Grundmann– fourth, an attempt to integrate
the social and political with the religious;
fifth, resistance with Van Engen to the two-tiered
model of medieval Christianity; sixth, an integration
of the lives of women into ecclesiastical history,
not only in this book but in the earlier
book Frank mentioned dedicated to women in
ecclesiastical office in early and early medieval
Christianity; sixth, an attempt to include much more than is
usual on piety and devotion, especially devotional
acts that don’t respect the boundaries of historians
like medieval or early modern; and finally, a serious analysis
of the ways in which Muslims and especially Jews
interacted with Christians and with the ways in which
Jews and their communities were imagined and caricatured, defamed by Christians
in the high and late Middle Ages in ways that
would have, as we say, effects in history
much, much later. I did this, I hope, without
excising significant attention on the papacy, the monastic
and religious orders, scholasticism, or that
marvelous medieval institution from which we all
benefit, the university. My hope was to
frame the narrative within the old– without
rather, the old-time values and to be transparent,
or perhaps translucent is the word, to the realities
I was attempting to represent. Finally, I poured a great deal
of effort into the writing. And this was partly to keep
me as well as the reader awake through 1,000
years of history. Whether I was successful
or not is now, thankfully, for others to say. Thank you so very much. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Kevin, for a
very informative overview of the project. I feel like we should get course
credit for being here tonight. [LAUGHTER] So thank you. The format of
these conversations is to have two
discussions follow upon the author’s presentation. The discussants are not tasked
with writing book reviews or going through it
chapter-by-chapter, but in terms of their own
disciplinary interest, raising some interesting
questions, possibilities, topics, and so on. So we give discussants
very free rein to do things as they see fit. After the discussants
speak, the three will move up here in
the front, sit facing, and then there will be
a general discussion, where you can pose questions
to Kevin or to our discussants. So let me just briefly
introduce our two discussants. First will be Amy Hollywood, the
Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies
here at the Divinity School in the university. She came to Harvard
in 2005 after teaching at Rhodes College, Dartmouth,
and the University of Chicago. She is the author of, in
1995 The Soul as Virgin Wife, Mechthild of Magdeburg,
Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart; 2002,
Sensible Ecstasy– Mysticism, Sexual Difference,
and the Demands of History; and forthcoming still from
Columbia University Press, Acute Melancholia
and Other Essays. Look forward to having
an event on that book. She is also coeditor with
Patricia Beckman, the Cambridge Companion to Mysticism in 2012. She is currently exploring the
place of the mystical, often redescribed as enthusiasm within
modern philosophy, theology, and poetry. Our second respondent will
be Luis Manuel Giron-Negron, who is a professor of
comparative literature, romance languages, and literatures. He is also a director
of undergraduate studies in romance studies and
co-chair of the standing committee on medieval studies. His research fields are broad,
including Spanish literature; medieval and golden age;
Arabic and Hebrew literatures of the Middle Ages; history
of religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
in the Middle Ages; historical linguistics;
comparative literature. Luis, in his teaching
and his research, seeks to elucidate the
interplay between the languages and literatures
of medieval Spain and to do so against the
cultural backdrop of Iberian religious history. The bulk of his work has
been on Spanish literary work from the Middle Ages
to the 17th century. In the course of
that work, he’s very interested in the
formative impact of Jewish-Christian-Muslim
relations on the premodern developments in Ibero-Romance,
Arabo and Eleusinian, and Hispano-Jewish
[? Beletras. ?] I could go on and on. Luis is a vast fields
of learning like Amy, so we have two
wonderful respondents. I just close by mentioning
two of his many publications, Vision Deleytable– Philosophical Rationalism
and the Religious Imagination in 15th Century Spain,
2001; and in Spanish with Laura Minervini,
Las Coplas De Yosef– Between the Bible and
Midrash in Judeo-Spanish Poetry– could say that. So we have two
respondent’s who will bring vast learning of the
Middle Ages and will rise to the occasion
of commenting on Kevin’s wonderful book Amy. [APPLAUSE] Thanks. Don’t clap yet. I haven’t said anything. No. OK. Thank you, Frank,
for inviting me and for hosting this
event and all the events like this, from which
I have been learning a great deal over the course
of the last couple of years since you’ve been doing them. The book that Kevin has written,
Medieval Christianity, a New History, is not only a
beautiful physical object, which it is, and is
a nice thing to have a beautiful physical object with
wonderful images throughout. But it is also– I mean, I would say
you have succeeded. It is a lovely and
clear narrative history of medieval Christendom. And it’s an argument, a
nonpolemically made argument, for why medieval Christendom
is the right word, or Christendom is the right
word to describe Western Europe from 600 to 1500. And I think that is an argument
that is compellingly made and told rather than
polemically just stated, the unity of Christianity,
and Christianity as a unifying force, in the years across which
the study covers– excuse me, I’m sorry, I’m not coherent– 600 to 1500. There’s a beautifully
made argument and descriptive
narrative enactment of the unifying
force of Christianity throughout that period. That’s what I’m trying to say. Embedded within this
larger narrative that runs throughout the
book are multiple finely wrought and really beautifully
told briefer narratives about topics that we expect in
a history of medieval Western Christianity and some that are
new, depend on new scholarship, in exciting and
innovative new ways, or look at older material in
innovative and creative ways. And in some ways now,
I’m going to repeat something Kevin’s already said. So I won’t give too
much time to this. But one of the
things that I found most remarkable in the process
of reading the 437 pages, excluding the descriptive– the scholarly descriptions, the
little chapters that tell you what each chapter was relying
on in the critical literature, which I also read– are the issues of
Christianization broadly. I mean some of the things
that we’ll be familiar with and anybody who picks up a book
about medieval Christianity would expect to see. That is the question of
Christianization of monasticism and the rise of the new
religious movements; the rise, consolidation,
and some would argue, overreaching of papal power;
and the attempt of conciliarism to put forces against
that reach of papal power; questions about
heresy and orthodoxy; about Crusades and
inquisitions, both as they relate to heretics and
to other non-Christian groups; and the rise of
the universities. So in this sense,
we have the things that we expect in such a
volume, often beautifully recast and retold, I think
especially around issues of Christianization and the
rise of the universities. The ways in which Kevin
tells these stories is really compelling and are
things from which I learned a great deal,
even though I supposedly know about this. There was also new material,
things that, as Kevin already pointed to, one might not expect
to see in such a narrative history. And I do think you’re right. I think that Southern
was right on the cusp. He was interested in
the new questions, but the research wasn’t there
to have a full-throttled version of them. And so in many ways,
this book feels to me like 45 years later somebody
going back to the things that Southern was trying
to get at and saying, OK, now I can tell the
whole story, or a broader version of the story. We can never tell
the whole story. And what are the new issues? The new issues are precisely
some of the things that Kevin talked about, parochial
life and the life, not only of the laity, but one
of the things that I learn most about from reading this book
that I did not know and that I’ve always wanted
to know more about, is the life of the
regular parish clergy, sort of out in the rural areas,
or in urban centers that were not super rich or had an
important Abbey in place, how they were educated,
which they weren’t. I mean, they were
educated through forms of apprenticeship. And so that there
was a kind of handing down of very small amounts
of information and ritual practices, sometimes
from father to son, because often these were
married clergy, and sometimes from the village clergy
person to– village priest– to whoever he decided was
the brightest young lad amongst them, who was going
to follow the way in leading the religious community. And the texture of those
stories about parochial life in early mid, high, and late
medieval Christianity, I found incredibly compelling,
and moving, and useful, and a part of the story
that often just goes completely missing. At the same time, I think
that the one part– the most– I mean, Kevin, you’re not a
wild polemicist like some of us in the room. But the moment at which you
get most intense is about the popular religion,
which you’ve named, and the concern to really put
to rest the line from [? de ?] [? Lameaux, ?] le
Goff, and others, in which there is this kind of
two-tiered distinction between what the peasants believed
and what the clergy believed. And as Kevin points
out, and Van Engen has pointed to this but not
in such a central place, the clergy were
peasants too, right? So the notion that there’s this
huge distinction between what the laity were doing, depending
on their class background, and what the clergy were
doing just just doesn’t play. It doesn’t work. And as the clergy became more
educated, so too did the laity. The increased education
and knowledge base, both in terms of practice and
belief, across in the church was shared by clergy
and laity together. And I think often it
was educated laypeople, who had become educated
through engaging in business transactions, that forced
the clergy to become more educated and vise versa,
and as the clergy also pushed, then, their parishioners. So I think that that story
is a really powerful one. And it’s told across the
book in wonderful detail and in really interesting ways. The second point–
and I have to say, for some reason this is
stuff that’s harder for me to catch my attention onto,
perhaps because I know less. And I know it’s something that
Luis knows and enormous about, so I’ll just mark it. And that is the relations
between the fact that, despite being Christendom– Christianity is a unifying
force in Western Europe– there were large communities of
Jews in Western Europe, right? And how did that happen? How was that lived? How were the relations between
Christians and Jews enacted? Why were the Jews
gradually expelled from much of Western
Europe over the years in which the book covers? And secondly, the relationships
between Christians and Muslims– we now know a great deal
more about the central role that Islamic scholars
and translators had in the dissemination,
or in the trans– what word do I
want?– handing down of Greek philosophical
traditions to the Christian Middle Ages,
and the central mediating role played by Muslim scholars in
Spain, but also elsewhere. And Kevin draws on that work
to tell that story in, again, really exciting
and powerful ways. And I’m sure Luis will
have things to say about that part of the book. And finally, as
Kevin also noted, there’s a lot of attention,
and a lot of very valuable attention, to women’s
religious life, and women’s life in
relationship to Christianity, and questions about gender and
relationship to Christianity, so changing conceptions
of marriage, changing conceptions
of marriage, not only of the clergy, who
were often married until later than
canonical law would have liked them to be, despite
all claims to the contrary. And with that changing notion
of what clerical purity looked like also came
changing conceptions of what marriage was about. And that rather than
clerical celibacy marking the disavowal of
marriage, in fact, there was a
sacralization of marriage as a form of sacramental
form of life for laypeople that arises at the same
time that the sacralization, or sacramentalization
of the priesthood becomes increasingly
dependent upon celibacy. So there’s this kind
of twin movement that is both a
refusal of marriage for the celibate priesthood,
but an embracing of marriage for the laity as
sacramental state. So there’s no simple view
on medieval Christianity was against marriage, or
against sex, or against bodies. And Kevin shows that, I
think, really wonderfully. And he also attends,
as he remarked, to the various ways in
which women participated in the religious life of
medieval Christianity, were active participants,
shaped in many ways, some of the fundamental devotional
and other kinds of practices that were increasingly
in play in the high and later Middle Ages. So all of this is
to say that there’s a lot of new and
exciting material here. The book is a pleasure to read. And it’s a pleasure to have
it now available for students and, again, not just
beginning students, although it’s written such that
beginning students can engage with it and really learn
an enormous amount from it, and I think I read it
without falling asleep, which I think that will work. But it’s also very useful
for advanced students, whether read in its
entirety, in terms of getting a big
narrative sweep, or the person who’s thinking
about new religious movements for the first time or thinking
about them with some kind of depth of care for them
for a second or third time, to go back to the chapters
that deal with the Franciscans and Dominicans and really get
a very concise but really rich narrative account of the
emergence of, say, those two religious orders. OK, so having said
all that, I’m going to ask a couple of
questions because that’s what we’re supposed to do. One is of substance
and the other two are let’s think about this. And I want to hear from
Kevin about his thoughts about some broader issues about
how the book might be deployed. All right, so the first
question, the one of substance, Kevin, for good reason,
I think, integrates what we know about women in the
Middle Ages throughout the book rather than relegating them to
a separate chapter on women, which would just not work
anymore, as if they were some small contained part
of medieval Christian life that could just get
tucked in the corner here. The fact of an
all-male clergy, I think for centuries– for
centuries– for decades made people think it
was OK to do that. But, of course,
the clergy was not always at the forefront
of what was happening in the religious sphere. Often it was the
monastic movements, and the new religious
movements, and various movements that ultimately become heretical
but weren’t in their starts. And women are very
active in those spaces. And so you can’t sort
of pull the women out and tell their story
in a different place. But I did wonder whether there
was one potentially adverse effect of this decision
around the issues, precisely the new religious
movements of the High Middle Ages. And I’m not sure I have
a solution to this. But the question is whether,
in not looking at women, something might be lost in
terms of the originality and specificity of
the Beguine movement. And I’m obsessed with
Beguines, so this is my thing. OK, so, Kevin, you can
just ignore me and say Amy’s just doing her thing. But Grundmann, who you point
to as an important influence for this book, in
writing the book on– what’s it called, Religious
Movements in the Later Middle Ages? Yeah, High Middle Ages? Anyway, Grundmann’s book, which
was published in ’35, because of the war, sort of
ignored until after the war when he revised it, and
still kind of ignored. But people began to pay– attend
to it in the ’70s and ’80s. Grundmann, in that
book, says, look, I’m cutting down
all the boundaries. There’s no heretic or orthodox. There’s no male or female. I’m just looking
at all the things that were happening in
the 12th and 13th century and trying to look at
them without the eyes of these later post-facto
here’s how they ended up kind of narratives. And in the process, he,
I think, would argue– I mean, he’s dead, but I think
that he would have argued, and he does argue in the book,
that really there’s four– if you wanted to locate sort
of four big movements that are something– that are
tied to mendicari, tied to the idea of radical– of poverty and of
begging, it would be the Waldensians, the
Beguines, the Dominicans, and the Franciscans. And from that perspective,
the Dominicans and Franciscans are late on the scene, right? The Waldensians,
1179 is the date that Waldes appeared
before the Third Council. Yeah, yeah, I know it wasn’t the
fourth, because that’s 1215– Third Council, Third
Lateran Council. And so that’s a
pivotal date for him. With the Beguines, we don’t
know exactly what the dates are. But we have vitae written
of the early Beguines in the very beginning
of the 13th century. And they were clearly
active in the ’70s and ’80s. So what we have– excuse me, 1170s and ’80s. Thank you. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, yeah,
if you’re back here in the 13th century with me,
that all made perfect sense. But anyway, so that
what’s interesting, and what some people
have pointed to and perhaps over-pointed
to is that the life of Marie of Oignies,
which was from the 1220s, has features in which
Marie and women around her are doing things
markedly similar to what Francis is doing a couple
of decades later in France. And when James of Vitry,
who wrote The Life of Marie of Oignies, he goes from the low
countries where she was living, and he goes to Italy. And it’s at a point at which
the Franciscan movement is just starting. And he’s like, oh, they’re
just like the Beguines. He doesn’t call them
Beguines, but he’s like these are just like the
religious women I’m seeing. So he’s pointing to the
commonality between what he’s saying south
of the Alps, that will become the
Franciscan movement, and what he’s seeing
north of the Alps. That will become the
Beguine movement. Many of the Beguines, because
of various decrees against them, and various problems
politically, and of joining Franciscan,
Dominican, or Cistercian houses, right, as Kevin
points to in his book. And yet, the Beguine movement,
despite being condemned at the Council of
Vienna in 1311, there was an escape hatch
in that condemnation. They said we condemn
all the Beguines, except for those who
are behaving properly. So needless to say, Beguine
noches continued to exist. And lone Beguines
continued to exist so that Beguine noches
aren’t finally shut down until the 18th century. I mean the final
ones aren’t shut down until the 18th century. The point being, because
there’s no single founder of the Beguine movement
who sort of gathered people around her, that story
has been told as if it’s a subset to a
larger [INAUDIBLE],, larger women’s
religious movement, or to the Dominican
or Mendicant orders. And what I would
suggest is that, or what I wonder is whether
there isn’t a moment where you actually have to tell
the story of the Beguines and that kind of wide array
of different kinds of forms of life that
religious women lived in the 12th and 13th century,
including– the Beguines could live by themselves. Sometimes they live in groups. Sometimes they lived
attached to churches. So what later
becomes anchorites, actually, in the early stages,
weren’t anchorites in the way that we think about them, at
least in the low countries. So anyway, it’s a
question about– the historiographical
questions that come out of this are twofold. One is whether the
desire for inclusion can sometime lead to something
getting lost in the story. So sometimes we don’t need
to have a separate chapter on women if women were leading
something that wasn’t– was different from what
the guys were doing. And there were some
men who were Beghards, but they were kind of
followers of the women. And the second question
that comes out of this is a question about
the choices that you had to make that would
have driven me crazy. And I want to hear about
how you handled this, about when to be diachronic and
when to be synchronic, right? So when were you just saying,
this is my block of time, and I’m going to
tell this story. So for me as a reader,
it was kind of jolting, in the chapter on monasticism,
to see Julian at the beginning. But you were thinking
typologically, right? anchorites, cenobites, and
then new form– and then the Carthusians, who
were the mixed way. But that ends up with Julian,
who’s 15th century, being at the front of a chapter. And I had to remind
myself, oh, this is a moment when you’re being
synchronic and typological. I think that was a useful
jolt for me, actually. And yet I still
have this question, was Julian a monastic? I don’t know. I’ve never thought
of her that way. So it raises
interesting questions. And the other two
questions, very quickly, because I know time is an issue,
are much more broader open– broad open. OK, talking is clearly not
my forte this afternoon. My other questions are
of a different kind. First I’m wondering about
how you might recommend using the book in the
classroom, or how you envision using the book in
the classroom, or how you would tell me to use
the book in the classroom. And more specifically, how
you imagine the integration of primary texts with
your narrative histories, and/or the integration– and
not just text but also images and material objects– and alternatively,
how you imagine the integration of the
historiographical literature. And I’m also
interested in how you think about the teaching
of medieval history having written this, and
where one should start. I’m a text person. I’m like, here’s your text. Here’s the narrative history
in which we put them. Is that how you’re
feeling now, or do you feel like some other method
is a better way to do it? So I’m curious about, after
having written this narrative history, how you would think
about teaching medieval history and the various stages
at which one teaches it. I’m also wondering
about online sources. You point to online
sources, and I think that’s really important. But I also worry about
that because the things that come online
are translations that are out of copyright. And so it’s not
always clear if people are getting access to the best
version of the primary sources. And so I’m curious how you think
about that in your teaching. And then finally–
this is just wide open– after having completed
this synthetic study, what strike you as the
most interesting areas of current concern in the
study of medieval Christianity? What were you most captivated
by, both methodologically and substantially? And, as we’re all
training students and thinking about where the– I mean, obviously
students are going to get excited by what they
want to get excited by about and you let them go. But I’m just curious if
you have a sense of where the really rich, rich
fields are and also the rich methodologic–
what are the riches sites of methodological interest,
so the new manuscript studies or some of the use of
digital resources in thinking about medieval history, the
intense focus on material culture by somebody
like Dan Smail, who’s a colleague in the history
department, is engaging in. So that broad set
of questions, I’d be curious what
you find exciting. And finally, I’m
going to paraphrase Anne Monius, who asked this
question at a panel on Friday– yeah, sorry, Anne– but
it’s my question too, so I was like, yes. And that is, does the
study of Christianity in the Middle Ages in
any way make a difference to how we do history? Doesn’t the fact that
we’re studying a religion, that we’re studying– that we’re studying
religion, in this case the religion of Christianity,
make a difference to how we write history? Or do you find the ways in
which history is written are capacious enough to
include the study of religion without any disruption
of their presumptions or characteristics? You can ignore that question. It was just Anne’s
here, so I was like, OK, we’re going to make
everybody talk about this. All right, thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you again
for the invitation. And I also brought
some written remarks, which I prepared
yesterday in the airplane. I had this very large lady,
larger than me, on my right, and this screaming
baby on my left, and little space to
open my computer. But the beauty of your
book made up for it. So– [LAUGHS] It was a pleasure
to join this celebration of Kevin’s new book. I began reading it
while trapped at home under nine feet of snow. It kept me company
at my local parish while waiting for the various
holy week liturgies to start. And I finished it yesterday
in old San Juan while staring at the ocean. It was a wonderful
traveling companion. Now, I am not the
historian of Christianity. My own field of research,
as Frank pointed out, is medieval and
early modern Iberia. My focus is religion
and literature. My research field encompasses
Iberian Christianity, but also Judaism and Islam in
the Iberian Middle Ages. So I spend most of my
days writing and teaching, not only about
Christians, but also about Muslims and Jews in
Spain, their religious history, their cultural exchanges,
the literatures they produce in their
respective vernaculars. However, it does not
take a specialist to appreciate Kevin’s
impressive syntheses and what it has to
teach me about Western Christianity at large
and the place of Iberian Christianity within it. Moreover, medieval Spain
is not neglected at all in his synthetic narrative. And his sustained attention
to Judaism and Islam as part of the overarching
story is even more significant to an Iberianist working
on the Middle Ages. So let me elaborate in detail. And I’m going to play
devil’s advocate. I mean, the effort of an
Iberianist to find herself or himself represented
in your scholarship. On the one hand, there are
three interweaving threads in Kevin’s historical
narrative– social history of the
Church as an institution, as a political actor, and the
most significant shaping force in the broader history
of Western Europe; intellectual and cultural
history of Western Christianity, expressing
the cumulative contributions of its leading theologians,
philosophers, mystics, artists, artists; and a
historical ethnography of lived Christianity,
the devotional practices, spiritual ideals, and Christian
experience of women and men, religious and lay, throughout
this extensive [? durae. ?] This skillful weaving
of these three threads creates a superb
densely textured account of the Latin Christian
[? formamenties ?] in all its complexity as
a religious [INAUDIBLE].. It also showcases
how precisely it shaped the social, political,
and intellectual life of Western Europe over the
course of a millennium. So as an educated reader,
it is the type of synthesis that one reads to get
an authoritative sense of the big picture with the
cumulative benefit of the most innovative trends in the
history of Christianity that you were reviewing
and Amy discussing, and how one’s own corner of
the field fits within it. But Kevin’s account of the
history of Christianity also has several
points of intersection with my own research in the
Iberian Middle Ages at large, not only Christian Iberia, but
also Muslim and Jewish Spain. And this is significant. My late teacher, Francisco
Marquez Villanueva, always deplored how European
medievalists consistently neglected Spain in building
their historical synthesis mostly on France, Germany,
Italy, and England. So I think he would have been
pleased with Kevin’s more capacious range and
how Spain is properly integrated into the bigger
picture at several points through a very tightly
compressed narrative. So I’m going to just go briefly
over seven examples, most of them in roughly– in rough chronological order, as
discussed throughout the book. One, early on in the book, Spain
provides a significant backdrop to his synthetic treatment
of Visigothic Christianity. Kings recorded the first
conversion from Aryan to Catholic Christianity in
587 and the subsequent councils in Toledo, the legendary
capital of Visigothic Spain, are given their due as part
of an introductory excurses on the complex transition
from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages. My dear Isidore of Seville,
the seventh century bishop and encyclopedic synthesizer
of late antique Gallo-Roman Christian culture,
also shows up, albeit not in his capacity as a revered
author of the widely popular etymologies, the most
significant summation of classical and
Christian learning in the Visigothic
period, but rather in connection to
the earliest chapter in the history of Christian
and Jewish polemic covered in the book. [INAUDIBLE] conversion
went hand-in-hand with the earliest
anti-Jewish policies promoted by the Toledan
Councils in Visigothic Spain. Marcus would smile. Two, Kevin’s synthesis
on the Crusades provides, on the other
hand, an initial context to reflect on the
emergence of Islam as both world religion
and political power and Christianity’s early efforts
to come to grips with what Islam was about through the
lenses of patristic [INAUDIBLE] theology. Spain figures prominently in
this story as the western most tip of the Arabo-Islamic
world in premodern times and the center of gravity
of al-Andalus cultural efflorescence as an
intellectual powerhouse, something that we’ll
come back in the chapter on scholasticism. Here Kevin briefly reviews
the so-called Reconquista, the multi-secular
struggle between Muslims and Christians to assert
their political sovereignty over the Iberian Peninsula. The expansion of al-Andalus
provides a political incentive as well for Urban II calling
of the First Crusade, which he also underscores. Kevin’s balanced attention
to the early history of Muslim-Christian
relations is worth noting. Three, his superb overview
of the Benedictine tradition and the rise of monastic
culture, another pillar of Western medieval
Christianity, also encompasses
the main features of his Iberian chapter. Kevin alludes
briefly but crucially to the centrality of Cluny
to Benedictine monasticism in 11th century Spain. Now Cluniac monks
were responsible for the temporary
revitalization of Latin learning in 11th century Castile,
the displacement of the native Mozarabic right
by the Roman liturgical right, and the internalization of
the Compostelan pilgrimage along the Jacobean route. A Spanish clergyman in
the central Middle Ages had horrible Latin. They were horrible at it, which
is why Alphonse VI brought all those Cluniacs to Spain,
hoping they will do better. But they resented that as an
act of French ecclesiastical colonialism. Anyway, he pays more
sustained attention to the emergence of the female
Cistercian abbeys in Spain, the assertive incorporation
of religious women to the Cistercian Order, not
withstanding the reluctance of their brothers epitomized
by the majestic Monastery de la Huelgas, founded in 1187
with the persistent support of Alphonse VIII. This was a wonderful chapter. Four, his superb overview
of devotional practices in the central Middle Ages,
another significant feature of Kevin’s exercise,
includes a synoptic excursus on Christian pilgrimage sites
with due attention to Santiago de Compostela, the third most
visited Christian pilgrimage city after Rome and Jerusalem
in all of Western Christendom. The 11th century
transformation of Compostela into a major
pilgrimage magnet is based on the medieval invention
of the relics of St. James the apostle and the
concomitant creation of a system of institutions
to support European pilgrims from all over who came
to these [INAUDIBLE] in order to venerate
the apostle’s remains at the magnificent
cathedral built by the Cluniac monks. The Compostelan myth
became a central pillar in the religious history of
Ibero-Medieval Christianity and the Jacobean routes,
one of the principal means for religious, economic,
and cultural exchange between Christian Iberia
and trans-Pyrenean Europe. Five, Kevin’s superb overview
of the mendicant orders includes a detailed
biography of St. Dominic, the Castillian
founder of the order of [INAUDIBLE] from Caleruega,
Santo Domingo de Guzman. The Dominicans attain
prominence, or notoriety as the case may be, in
medieval Christianity wearing many different
hats, some of which have medular ties
to premodern Spain. [SNEEZE] They
excel– bless you– at preaching and catechises. They were instrumental to
the papal inquisitions, especially in response to
the growth of the Cathar heresy in southern France. They were also committed to
intellectual life as pillars of the scholastic movement
and at the service of their missiological efforts. And they play a
central vexing role in Christian
anti-Jewish polemics. We’ll get both to the scholastic
and the Jewish question in a minute. But Kevin also highlights
some of the Iberian actors in this story, for example,
the reform initiative of the [INAUDIBLE] in the
theological and pastoral training of Dominican novices. And he also attends
to the founding of female Dominican houses
in Spain by Dominic himself. It is a trip to
see how an expert in Franciscan religiosity could
pay such brilliant tribute to their rivals. Six, the scholastic revolution
that Kevin summarizes so well has equally significant ties
with the Iberian Peninsula, some discussed in some
detail, others beautifully acknowledged
throughout the chapter. For one, the
intellectual synthesis of [INAUDIBLE] thought
and Christian theology aimed at by the
scholastic was enabled by the sustained
translation of Aristotle and the Greek philosophical
corpus, via Arabic and sometimes the Ibero-Romance
vernaculars into Latin, along with the
Latin translations of Muslim philosophical
treatises and commentaries on Aristotle and even Plato. Islam does not figure
in Kevin’s story simply as the maligned
antagonist of the Crusaders’ imagination, but also
as a religious tradition with a substantive
cultural legacy that deeply shaped the
intellectual life of Western Christian
theologians. Kevin signals in this
context the central role of the Iberian
translation movement of the 12th and 13th centuries,
based primarily but not exclusively in Toledo,
which helped introduce the Greco-Arabic corpus to
the intellectual architects of the scholastic movement. He does not forget the fact
that the Summa Contra Gentiles, Aquinas’ other
summa, was written at the behest of the
Aragonist Dominican Friars for their
missiological efforts and polemic apologetic
engagement with Iberian Muslims and Jews. At the same time,
Kevin underscores the significant contributions of
Jewish and Muslim Aristotelians to the scholastic tradition,
with particular attention given to Maimonides
and Averroes, which, of course, would warm the
cockles of and Iberianist’s heart as it repays to
remember that Averroes and Maimonides were
both from Cordova, that they were both
towering geniuses formed in the intellectual
milieu created by the Arab-Andalusian scholars
that flourish on Iberian soil, and that the Latin
translation of their works were read in-depth,
carefully studied, debated with by the likes of Albert
the Great and Aquinas himself. Seven, Jews and Christians,
another feature of Kevin’s book is its thoughtful, detailed,
meticulously documented treatment of Christian
anti-Jewish polemics and its Semitic expressions
throughout the European Middle Ages. I read that section with
particular attention, as it relates to one of
my areas of interest, the formative impact of Judaism
in Iberian cultural history. Most of my recent scholarship
is precisely about the sustained cultural
engagement of Christian patrons and scholars with the cultural
legacy of Sephardic Jews. So I love to see this
beautifully treated. Kevin’s excellent chapters on
the Adversus Judaeos tradition, which will now replace the
written selections I usually give to my students in LIT157,
has three significant ties to the Iberian
religious context. A, Kevin devotes a subsection
to the Barcelonan Disputation and Nahmanides’ role within it. Now, as some of you may know,
Nahmanides, Mose ben Nahman Gerondi, is revered in
the history of Judaism as a genuine
Sephardic polymath, as the towering Jewish intellectual
of the 13th century. He was an eminent
biblical scholar. His commentary on the Pentateuch
appears in subsequent editions of the [INAUDIBLE] along
with Rashi and Ibn Ezra, also [INAUDIBLE],, a
physician, a Hebrew poet, a leading [INAUDIBLE]. And he spearheaded one of
the most spirited defenses of Judaism against the
missionary pressure of the Iberian
Dominicans, epitomized by his celebrated intervention
in a 1263 public disputation with Pablo Christiani, a
Jewish convert to Christianity, in Barcelona, in the presence
of King James of Aragon. Nahmanides tour de force
impressed King James so much that he
declared him victorious, although he was
eventually banished at the behest of the Dominicans. Kevin reviews in great
detail this major episode in the history of Christian
and Jewish apologetics. Now his overview
of the disputation also segues into substantive
comments on the pivotal role that the Iberian
Dominicans played in Jewish-Christian polemics. Their scholastic commitment
to argumentative reason, and the Christian
rediscovery of the Talmud as the foundational basis of
rabbinic Jewish observance redefined the basic assumptions
and conversionary tactics of Christian
anti-Jewish polemicists in the entire Middle Ages. Most significantly, Kevin closes
off chapter 17, “A Lachrymose Age, Christians and Jews,”
with the paradigmatic moment in this tragic chapter,
the expulsion of Jews from Castile, Aragon, and
Portugal in 1492, 1497. Again, Kevin summarizes a
complex historical episode with clarity and aplomb. Jews played a major role in
the social and cultural life of Christian Spain
through the 14th century. But a number of factors led to
sundry episodes of anti-Jewish violence that led to the
massive conversion of Jews– a few sincerely,
most under pressure– and kept practicing
Judaism in clandestinity. Their perceived prominence
in 15th century Spain led, in turn, to several
anti-converso efforts, culminating in the establishment
of the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion itself. Now this sustained,
well-documented effort to showcase one of the
most notorious legacies of medieval Western
Christianity, the premodern roots of the most
virulent anti-Semitic myth, is much appreciated. There are a few details
I might have added, El Nino de la Guardia, the most
famous case of ritual murder accusation in 15th
century Spain and one of the detonadores in
inquisitorial times, And one fact that is
kind of intriguing in this particular
context, the first efforts to implement edicts of blood
purity preventing Christians of Jewish descent from occupying
ecclesiastical or political office. It’s the first effort to
theorize Judaism as something inherited biologically. And the intense
theological debates were significant in
the religious life of late medieval Iberia. I would add, since– I mean, I didn’t– I want to piggyback on
many of Amy’s questions. But I will add one desideratum. The cultural exchanges of
Christians and Jews in Iberia also had some
positive contributions tied with specific events that
are chronicled in Kevin’s book. A beautiful example is in the
penultimate chapter, “Late Medieval Contours of Reform.” In that section,
chapter 20, it ends with a substantive overview
of another favorite figure of mine, Francisco Jimenez de
Cisneros, Franciscan reformer, confessor to Isabel la Catolica,
founder of Alcala de Henares, political leader, patron
of the Christian humanist. Kevin rightly uses Cisneros to
close off his superb depiction of individual reform
initiatives at a time when broader efforts to
reform the church at large and the papacy in particular
had miserably failed. He highlights, amongst
Cisneros’ signal achievements, not only his reform initiatives
with the Franciscan order, but the crowning fruit of
his cultural patronage, the Complutensian
Polyglot Bible. Now the Polyglot Bible,
the first edition of a Bible in its original
language, languages, and most venerable translations
in parallel columns, prepared between 1514 and 1517,
embodies an important moment of inflection at the
dawn of early modernity in the intellectual history
of Western Christianity. The emergence of
Christian humanism is the distinctive ideal
of Christian reform rooted in the revitalization
of biblical studies with theological methods. Last year was the
500th anniversary of the publication of the
first volume that came out, number five, which you
mention in your book. Now, it is fitting to celebrate
Cisneros’ legacy in closing note to a major transition
that signifies– to the major transition
it signifies, from late medieval
Christianity to the Protestant and
Catholic reformations of the 16th century. However, one issue that
should be remembered in this context, Cisneros’
success, the success of the Polyglot hinged on
the active collaboration of Jewish scholars, of
Jewish converso humanists. The Polyglot’s emblematic
value as a potent adumbration of modern biblical
scholarship fully hinged on the intellectual legacy
of Hispano-Jewish biblical scholarship introduced to
the Christian biblicists of Cisneros theorical by
three converso Hebrewites, Alfonso de Zamora, Pablo
Coronel, Alfonso de Alcala. They were all Jewish
converts to Christianity in active conversation
with Jewish scholars. And they drew extensively
from the philological legacy of their Jewish
peers in producing the Hebrew and Aramaic
text of the Polyglot. And this is an example
of a broader phenomenon. Throughout the 15th
century, we find a number of collaborative efforts between
Jews and Christians, Christians who secure the support of
Jewish scholars in areas of Bible and philosophy. We have a number of significant
translations commissioned by Christian scholars. The first vernacular
translation of the [INAUDIBLE] of Maimonides [INAUDIBLE],,
aside from the Latin, is into Old Spanish
by Pedro Toledo. We have biblical
Roman Ciamientos. I’m going to spend the
next 10 years editing this Hispano-Jewish translation
of the Bible into Old Spanish by a Rabbinic scholar
in collaboration with a Franciscan Bible
scholar from Toledo. And it was a
significant feature, despite the inquisition, despite
the pressure on the conversos. Indeed, I was surprised
that Nicholas of Lyra was not mentioned in your book. You discuss Glossa Ordinaria. But then one of
the signal moments in the evolution of
biblical scholarship in Christian circles,
Nicholas de Lyra’s postili were, because of
their substantive debt to the contributions of Rashi
and the other Jewish scholars that he was acquainted
with, an issue that comes to the fore
in the 15th century intervention of my beloved
Jews and conversos. So it’s an issue that I like– would be an interesting
way of complementing the lachrymose picture that is
central as well to your efforts in this beautiful book. And I will end with
two brief comments. As the literature
scholar, I regularly teach a wide range of
premodern literatures, both European and Near-Eastern,
secular and religious. So another facet of your
book that caught my attention was its welcome reconnaissance
of an European literature as a catechetical tool
for Christian pedagogy, as a significant
source of knowledge on medieval Christian
sensibilities, and as a significant model
for other Christian religious traditions. He devotes attention to
both liturgical place and religious drama,
the [INAUDIBLE],, which were also central to Spain. And in his treatment
of mysticism, he underscores how the
European traditions of [INAUDIBLE] literature
in verse and prose provided literary models for
the contemplative treatises and poetic writings of late
medieval Christian mystics, especially women
vernacular writers. Now with Amy here, I don’t
need to talk about this. But my final note,
in Puerto Rico, I was giving this
plenary lecture to celebrate the 500th
anniversary of Teresa of Avila’s birth. So in preparing
that lecture, one of the issues I
was reflecting upon was the paucity of
medieval Christian mystics who resort to poetry,
in a narrow sense, as vehicles to communicate
their contemplative experiences and reflect on their
theological import. That lecture gave
me an opportunity to review the writings
and scholarship on some significant
mystical poets, [? Hadowish, ?] Mechthild,
Jacopone da Todi, [INAUDIBLE].. Now I was surprised that Kevin,
who know the Franciscans so well, did not take advantage
of Jacopone’s involvement in the spiritual revolt
against Boniface VIII in his wonderful chapter 18. However, it was fitting that
shortly after my lecture, when I was in San Juan and joined
those freighters by the ocean, I read the final chapter. And there they were, most
of my recent interlocutors, [? Hadowish, ?] Mechthild,
[? Datrish. ?] And he even points out something
that I didn’t know, which brought a smile to my
face, that Dante’s Matilda, in the earthly paradise cantos
of Purgatorio, may have been, perhaps, it’s debated, but they
suggested that he could have access to the Latin versions of
the [INAUDIBLE] is suggestive. It was such a treat
to read your book. Thank you for this excuse to
celebrate your scholarship [APPLAUSE] Thanks very much to
Amy and Luis for which wonderful erudite and generous
commentary on Kevin’s book. First, to give an
opportunity, Kevin, would you like to say anything
in response to Amy and Luis? No. You’re welcome to. OK, [INAUDIBLE]. You can say it from here. OK. [LAUGHTER] We have to get you on camera. Ah, that’s right. That’s right. Well, the first thing
I would like to say is thank you so very much
for such generous readings and such careful
readings of 437 pages. Let me just begin with Luis. I’ve got to say, Luis, one
of my fears about this book was that it concentrated
too much on Northwestern Europe, which is really– which would really reflect my
training and Amy’s training in France, England,
Germany, and to some extent Italy, although not
that much Italy. So I’m very grateful
that you found the places in which I did speak
about the Iberian Peninsula. And I guess I spoke about it
more than I had remembered. [LAUGHTER] So I’m really grateful that I– as for the purity of blood
laws, to be absolutely frank, I forgot to put it in there. And it’s an amazing– it’s something that happens. But it’s, for me, it’s strange– John and I just discussed this– because, as you
know, I have interest in Christianity and fascist
Germany, where purity of blood was, obviously,
central to stuff, understanding of the Nazis, and
eventually of Italian fascists. Let me just say a few words
about Amy’s questions. I thought the questioning
me about placement was really a terribly
interesting one, about where I place the Beguines. What’s gained and
what’s lost in that? And that was just
a superb question. And as I was contemplating
your question, I thought, there are probably
four chapters in which I could put the Beguines, if
I ignored chronology to some extent, which,
as you point out, I do when I talk about
Julian of Norwich. But I tried not to do it. I tried not to do that. But I could have talked
about them in relation to the Waldensians, as
Grundmann does, as you know. I could have talked
about them in the chapter on medieval forms
of religious life. I could’ve talked about them
in either of my two chapters on heresy. But actually, I guess the five– I had the fifth
place was where I put them, was on the chapter
of Dominicans– on Dominicans. And the reason that
I did that actually arises from Grundmann’s
perception that, in some cases, the Beguines anticipate,
right, the pious aspirations of the mendicant orders. And so that was one
reason that I did that. But a second, even
more important reason, was that I was taking my
cue from scholars like you and John Coakley, who’ve
put people like Beguines in relationship with their
Dominican friends or advisors and so forth. And I actually
think that that has been one of the most
interesting and rich areas of medieval study in
the past 20 years or so. And so I talk about a number of
these different relationships with women, and
Dominicans in particular. So that’s why I place it. Now, there was a cost. There was a cost there, I think. And you hinted at some of them. One of the costs
was that I really couldn’t talk about Ad nostrum
and the Council of Vienne, or I chose not to. But that was what was lost,
I think, in not putting it elsewhere, let’s say
in a chapter on heresy, where I then would have had to
bring in the Council of Vienne and those kinds of things. But it is a really
interesting question. But that was my justification
for placing them where I did. The synchronic-diachronic
question is really an excellent one. As I organized the
book, I basically imagined it as a sort
of unfolding tapestry with a sort of
teleology and so forth. But there were moments when
I imagined it differently, as a sort of mosaic, which was
disteleological, or did not have a foreordained end
and more like a mosaic in which the pieces
could be moved around. And literary techniques, like
interesting juxtapositions and contrasts, could be used
to tell the story in a new way. And I also wanted to put a face
on a lot of the movements I talked about, which
could be slightly abstract without a face. So I did that for almost
every movement I talked about. I’m glad Amy brought up
the question of pedagogy and a whole host of issues
related to pedagogy. I want to talk first about
primary sources and text. The initial chapters
I drafted were– had in the margins, just
like Jaroslav Pelikan’s famous history of
Christian doctrine had a citation, not only a
citation, but it actually had– I typed out the sources on
which I based my exposition. And these were just
initial chapters. And my editor asked to see them. And when I submitted
them to her, she said this won’t
fly because you’ll go way over your word limit. You’ll go way over
your word limit. And you would have had to read
a lot more than the 437 pages. And even though I– I could have had the references. Yeah, I had the
references there. And so that is to say
that I wanted the– I wanted not only
the references, but I actually wanted
the text, the sources right there for a whole
variety of reasons. One is to demonstrate
to students where I got my material; second, to
challenge and to see things that I had not seen; third, to
suggest to them my view of what history is, which is an art–
closer to an art or a branch of the humanities rather
than a social science, whose responses to certain
questions can be reduced to numbers with
decimal points and so forth. All of those things
were at play. But I was not able to do that. But– That’s too bad. You know, if ever
I can put together a textbook that
would accompany this, the problem is,
textbooks do not sell. This kind of brings me to– I did reluctantly
refer to some sources on the internet, which
you’re absolutely right. Some of them are
misattributed or archaic. But there they are. There they are for
free for students. I do have larger hesitations
about the use of the internet, for history in particular. So for example, students all
have access to the History Channel website, right? But they don’t have
access outside. If you’re not a
Harvard student, you don’t have access to the
American Historical Association website or something like that. So, just to bring
home this point, I have taught courses in the
Holocaust here, as you know, for a long time. And a lot of denier sites have
very, very slick web sites and fancy names like the Journal
for Historical Research, which are just revisionist web sites. And unless you really know
ahead of time what you’re doing, or unless you’re
forbidden by the professor from going on the
internet, you can easily be fooled by these things. And the other thing
about the internet is that everything comes out. It doesn’t weigh things. Everything has equal
value and so forth. And it doesn’t–
a Google search, it does not distinguish the true
from the false or the ephemeral from the permanent and
those sorts of issues. There are other things
that you asked me. [INAUDIBLE] So maybe I’ll just pause
there, and we can all– yeah. Professor Madigan, could you
share with us maybe one little victory that you had in your
editing process of someone or something that you were able
to include and something that you lost out on, what you
wish might have been in there but isn’t? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Let me go into the
second question first. One of my interests, Amy knows,
is in doubt in the Middle Ages. And there are– there’s almost
nothing written about this. And yet, I know for
certain that doubt existed in the Middle Ages. [LAUGHTER] I doubt it. [LAUGHTER] And that there are a lot
of sources about doubt– not so much about the
existence of a deity, but about things like
transubstantiation in particular. And we know even that
clerics doubted it. So, for example, if you’ve
been to Cathedral at Orvieto, south of Rome, the reason
that that wonderful cathedral was erected was that the
priests doubted the notion that Christ was truly
present in the Eucharist. Sure enough, the
consecrated host bleeds onto the alter,
and boom, a miracle. You’ve got the required miracle,
and then a cathedral goes up. That’s just one example. But that kind of thing is
repeated over and over again. So I didn’t include
doubt in there. And I should have. And it’s one of the
things I just didn’t. As for triumphs, editorial
triumphs, I’ve got to say, the team that I worked
with at this press was extraordinarily
competent and kind. So I initially signed a
contract that allowed me to do a 100,000-word book on
1,000 years of history. You can do the division on that. It would have been a really– it would have been
easier to review. But it would’ve been– I quickly realized that I
was going to need a lot more. So I renegotiated the contract
to about 160,000 words. And I submitted a
manuscript of 240,000 words with some trepidation. And they accepted it as it was. It was this was a book
that I wanted to write. And I’m just very
grateful to them. It was a victory in
a way, but in a way it was really a
compassionate act on their part to pay
the– bear the extra cost. [INAUDIBLE] Kevin I also
enjoyed the book very much. And I guess the
question I have is a bit of a virtual, speculative
question that I think both you and Amy said that this is the
book that Southern might have written and might [INAUDIBLE],,
if 45 years of scholarship had been available to him. I guess the
question– and I also was writing a
textbook of some kind at roughly the same time as
we were talking about this. Yes, yes, yes. And I guess one
of the things that struck me and may have struck
you as well is how will this look in the 45 years
post [INAUDIBLE],, another 45 years from here? And so what areas
do you think that– did you really feel,
apart from doubt perhaps, but in addition to
doubt, the areas you think are just
beginning to get exciting, or that you felt, wow, I wish
I had some sources to answer this question? Yeah, that’s what I
was trying to ask. Yeah, so that– or for anyone in
the panel, anyone in the panel that has a book. Yeah, well one of the
areas that Amy mentioned was material culture,
which encompasses a whole broad range of
things, architecture, archeology, and so forth. And really up until
fairly recently, this has been the domain of
art historians, who are usually interested in attribution,
dates, style of art, and this kind of thing. And I think one of the
coming areas of scholarship is to bring this back– bring the creation of these
medieval material cultural elements into the context for
which and in which they were made, namely certain
ecclesiastical spaces and for certain devotional
ritual practices and so forth. So I think there is an awful
lot to be done on that. The challenge of that
is that you have– and I have had a student who
has wanted to do that for a PhD. The challenge is that you have
to, in effect, do two PhDs– one in oral history– I mean, to really
show your chops– one in art history and
on in religious history. Or at least you have to
know a lot about art history to do it well, I think. I would say that’s
a real coming area. A lot of people are working
on digitizing the humanities. I don’t know much about that. Amy, maybe you can
speak more to that. But our– Mike McCormick
here, for example, is working a lot on that. What else? And then the other
thing that strikes me as really a place where
there’s a lot of exciting work happening is what I broadly
named as manuscript studies. And that sounds kind of
vague, but the particular area of that, from my
perspective, what I know about from
the work I do, is people no longer
interested in the creation of a critical addition through
the sifting through and the trying to create the best,
the sort of [INAUDIBLE] text, but instead, a real focus on the
specificity of the manuscript, the conditions in
which it was– what we can know about
its production, the communities for
whom it was produced, what we can learn about
the communities in which it circulated, the way the
manuscripts are bound together, and what they tell us about
how particular communities are using books. And especially in
work on this sort of devotional mystical
tradition, that is an area that is really,
like, really, really interesting things are happening. But you, again, you have
to have paleographical and codicological skills that are
hard to come by in the United States. And so there’s people
that do that across, in different places of
Europe, who are doing stuff, can tell stuff
about a manuscript that just blows my mind. But often those people don’t
have theological training. So it is that question
of how we work together towards the end of– and actually there’s
a project going on around [? Hudrik ?] right now, a
13th century, probably Beguine. We don’t know anything
about her because all we have are these four
copies of this corpus. And there’s a number of
scholars working together. There’s theologians, and
historians, and a really great codicologist. And we can show things. We can say things definitively
that we couldn’t say before. And then what are the
theological ramifications? So that’s one place. And then a lot of that comes
from Brian Stocks talking about communities
of readers in 1980– whatever year it was– and
then that being concretized, not just being sort of an idea. There’s a community of readers,
but what does that mean? The digital stuff I
was thinking about is people trying to look at
religious movements and changes by being able to visualize
quantitative evidence in ways that can sometimes
be quite interesting. I don’t know how much purchase
it has for the kind of work that your or I or Luis does. The question of
manuscript studies has been [INAUDIBLE]
to Iberian historians. I mean, it’s very
common these days to find entire monograph
devoted to particular [INTERPOSING VOICES]. Well Dagenais’ book is
crucial, The Ethics of Reading. Exactly, now the
ethics of reading applied to [INAUDIBLE],,
which means it seems like a wonderful
play to ensure we still have Latin paleographers
at the university. Yeah, exactly. We need people teaching the
early history of Latin writing and the theoretical
thinking that goes into it. That has been central to
French and Italian scholars, the new philology. It’s funny, the question of– I mean digital humanities. Sometimes digital
humanities to me sounds like a term for
the way in which you make things available in the
internet, which certainly it’s not. But Franco Moretti, [INAUDIBLE]
this wonderful Italian literary scholar had this text,
trying to reconceptualize literary history in a way
that may have repercussions as well for the future history
of medieval Christianity. He argued that many– if you write the history of
the novel, sometimes scholars basically based their
historical sense of the evolution of the genre
from that 10, 20, canonical novels they’ve read. But theoretically, if you’re
making a substantive claim about the totality
of the novel, it would mean that you have to read
every single novel ever written and then have the complete sense
of the whole picture, which is physically impossible. So it’s from that. I mean, he’s a very good
Italian Marxist thinker. So he’s trying to figure out
how to quantify it, knowledge from distant reading that may
provide particular insights into literary evolution that
are simply inaccessible when your privilege canonical
text to detriment of the totality of a
society’s production. And I surmise some
similar thing happened in canvasing the sources
we have to reconstruct the particular idea of
Christian cultural expression in a wide range of
societies and not simply the usual
suspects that tend to be privileged in
many of the accounts. I think we have
time for one more– two more questions, one in the
back and then one over here. I was interested
in you mentioning that you taught the Holocaust. And I wonder, as you
worked on this book, if you had a sense sometimes, or
effort of being on a journey toward the Holocaust? That’s a great question. And the answer is I tried
not to because there was nothing inevitable
from the Middle Ages to what happened in
the 20th century. History is much too
complex for that. That said, I did talk
quite a lot about ways in which, for the
first time in history, Jews were caricatured and
defamed and so forth, charged with blood [INAUDIBLE],, blood
libel and so forth, ways in which they were pictured. And in some instances, we
have images of the blood libel or of Jews killing a young
Christian boy for their blood to use at Pesach,
which were actually imported without change into
Nazi propaganda magazines in around 1934. So there is a connection. I talk about Oberammergau,
which even after the Holocaust was blessed by
Cardinal Faulhaber. So I think I want to give
a yes and a no answer. It was in my mind, but I very
much tried to avoid the– avoid implying
that what happened in the 15th century
led inevitably to what happened in the 20th century. What happened in
the 20th century could not have
happened with what happened in the 15th, 16th,
17th, and 18th centuries. But it was not inevitable,
if that makes sense. And I think the last session–
question [INAUDIBLE].. Yeah, thanks. Professor Madigan,
I thought not only was your book beautiful in
some places, but also funny, which I wasn’t surprised
at all about, know you and having been in
your class before. So thanks for that. That was really welcome. The question that I have
has to do with a phrase that you used that’s
not so necessarily remarkable or funny, but
somewhat commonplace, which is that medieval culture
was a biblical culture. I meant to ask about that. Oh yeah, which you
say a number of times. And what struck me
about that is that, when you think
about who’s invested in the idea of a
biblical culture today, I can think of a
couple of groups. One that is dreaming
about the possibility of a biblical culture
and another that is– imagines a biblical
culture as a kind of nightmarish sort of thing. And I just wonder if you
would respond to that comment. Because it seems that the
study of the medieval world as a biblical world in contrast
to other moments in history, there’s something
productive there. And I’d love to hear
you say more about it. No, thanks for that for
that question, Kirk. Let me say a couple of things. One is that because
of the importance given to Thomas Aquinas,
whom you know very well– in the 19th and 20th
centuries, we often think of the Middle Ages
as a religious culture free of the Bible. Nothing could be further
from the truth, nothing. Secondly, the term biblical
culture is not mine. It’s one that I borrowed from
the late antique historian Robert Markus, who wrote
a great, great book called The End of Ancient Christianity,
in which he tries to decide, hey, when does this– when does the ancient world
sort of cease to exist and the medieval world begin. And one of the elements
of the medieval world is that the old classical
Greek and Roman culture gets replace by a biblical culture. And if you read any theological
treatise, first of all, there’s a, as Luis
mentioned Nicholas of Lyra, there’s an enormous tradition
of biblical commentary. The major text of the
period, the Benedictine Rule is chock full of
biblical references. Francis’ of Assisi’s
original rule was a chain of biblical texts. Many, many ascetics
were launched on their cynical career
by hearing the gospel. Even it’s been argued, language
taken from the Vulgate, which of course was hugely
influential in the time, is the source for many,
many sculptural programs or iconographical programs,
programs of stained glass windows in cathedrals. So it’s– if we were to
walk back [INAUDIBLE],, you would be covered
in the Bible. You’d be saturated in it. It was pervasive
throughout the culture. It was absolutely pervasive
throughout the culture. And I think, I hope,
one of the effects of my using that term is that
people will recognize that. But it’s a great question. Amy and Luis, did you
want to say anything on biblical culture
before we wrap up? No? [LAUGHTER] No, you don’t have it, man. Maybe we’ll– so, there’s
plenty still to eat and drink. You don’t have to
rush from the room. You can mingle and talk
to our wonderful author and our wonderful respondents. But thank you all so much. And than you all for coming. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING]

Otis Rodgers

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