Religious Studies

Markus Vinzent

Embodied Early and Medieval Christianity: Challenging its 'Canonical' and 'Institutional' 'Origin'

Volume 2 () / Issue 1, pp. 103-124 (22)

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The writing of the history of Christianity needs a radical overhaul, as for centuries early Christian historiography was based on apologetic and canonical texts which only reinforced the claimed position of structures and institutions of which such evidence derived at the expense of what had since been lost, reshaped or preserved in distorted versions. The suggested new approach in this article sets out from embodied perceptions, not from an institutional or canonical Christianity. 'Embodied early and medieval Christianity' targets individual and collective religious and ethical behaviour, and conceptualisations of it, as developed and appropriated by diverse actors in different social and temporal spaces. The time stretches to the Middle Ages, by which time most of what is preserved had been canonically reconfigured and other writings institutionally filtered out. Before questions of the genealogy of orthodoxies and heterodoxies can be raised, we need to look at how individual agents engage creatively with Jewish and non-Jewish traditions and how these develop into what only later becomes known as Christian identities.

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