The Formation of Christian Europe: The Carolingians, by Owen M. Phelan

By Owen M. Phelan

The Formation of Christian Europe analyzes the Carolingians' efforts to shape a Christian Empire with the organizing precept of the sacrament of baptism. Owen M. Phelan argues that baptism supplied the root for this society, and provided a medium for the verbal exchange and the popularization of ideals and ideas, wherein the Carolingian Renewal validated the imaginative and prescient of an imperium christianum in Europe. He analyzes how baptism unified humans theologically, socially, and politically and helped Carolingian leaders order their ways to public existence. It enabled reformers to imagine in methods that have been ideologically constant, publicly on hand, and socially useful.
Phelan additionally examines the influential courtroom highbrow, Alcuin of York, who labored to enforce a sacramental society via baptism. The publication eventually appears on the dissolution of Carolingian political aspirations for an imperium christianum and the way, through the top of the 9th century, political frustrations hid the deeper fulfillment of the Carolingian Renewal.

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Additional resources for The Formation of Christian Europe: The Carolingians, Baptism, and the Imperium Christianum

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Sacramentum 35 The invocation provided theological reinforcement which grounded the sacramentum, and also suggested a Christian hermeneutic for interpreting ideas key to the oath, such as faithfulness. 95 Similar to what was implied by Augustine and articulated by Vegetius, the formula accesses terminology at once civil and religious. Moreover, mention of the aid of the saints likely identified the venue as a church, as with the sacramenta in other capitularies. The saint—present in his relics—served with God as both witness and guarantor, a tactic reminiscent of Isidore’s treatment of the sacramentum of baptism.

The conversion triggered a bitter response when one Jew dropped rancid oil on the convert, leading to violent retribution by the city’s Christian residents. ”60 Gregory referred to the well-known ritual of Christian initiation (and perhaps the lesser known ritual of excommunication by rancid oil), and set the rite at the center of a complex set of community identities only fully evident when the sacramentum was viewed as ordering one’s allegiance on multiple levels. In this instance, baptism was a highly charged change of allegiance which required a change in community not only in a theological sense but also in a social one.

He marked the incorporation of different peoples into a new group, the church, through their acceptance of sacramenta, accenting the implications of liturgical action. In Book Two, Bede described the conversion of the East Angles: “So great was Edwin’s zeal for the worship of truth that he persuaded King Earpwald, son of Redwald, King of the East Angles, to abandon the superstition of idols and accept the faith and sacramenta of 72 Studies of Bede are legion. For the now long-acknowledged influence of Anglo-Saxon culture on the Continent, especially Bede, see the magisterial Wilhelm Levison, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1946).

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