Philip Jenkins – The Ancient Inheritance

Philip Jenkins

His latest article published on the Patheos platform discusses the little known phenomenon of ‘global Christianity’ in the first centuries of Christian history, particularly in relation to the Celtic Church.

Here is the beginning of his article:

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I recently suggested that studying the history of the so-called  “Dark Ages” gives a wonderful background for understanding contemporary Christianity worldwide. Nowhere is that more true, oddly, than in the central theme of globalization itself. When you explore the world of Late Antiquity, roughly from the fourth century through the ninth, you see a Christian world that was enthusiastically transcontinental, if not exactly global. Repeatedly, we see influence and ideas transmitted from old churches to new and emerging bodies, and then later returning to the parent churches in odd and unexpected ways.

I have a long-standing interest in the early Irish church, which was seemingly perched on the distant fringes of the civilized world. Yet that sense of isolation is very misleading. From the time of its conversion in the fifth and sixth centuries, Ireland was closely connected to the wider world of Gaul (France) and beyond that to the Mediterranean. Time and again, scholars of Irish art and literature trace literary sources or artistic motifs direct to Visigothic Spain, and beyond that to Christian North Africa. If we ever wonder where the rich cultural life of North Africa went after the land was devastated by Vandals, Byzantines and Arabs, we have our answer. Not surprisingly, Early Ireland had a massive library of apocryphal gospels and scriptures as complete as any in Western Europe.

This thoroughly cosmopolitan church then set out on the great missionary endeavor into Scotland and Northumbria (Northern England), in the process creating some of the greatest cultural and artistic centers of the contemporary Christian world.
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Read HERE the rest of this very interesting article.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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