Word of the Day: Pisteology

This one is borrowed directly from the Oxford English Dictionary, which today informs us that Pisteology is ‘A theory or science of faith’. From the few citations given by the dictionary, it seems a) that it didn’t really catch on (one to try and rectify!), and b) that it implicitly refers to Christianity.

Since the OED dates first use to 1880, it’s not a term which the early modern men and women we study would have recognised. Still, it chimes interestingly with a question that’s dogging my own research: what is the difference between the study of religion and the study of belief? Is it possible to excavate (especially at such a historical distance) the operations and experience of faith as well as its articulation and performance? And what is the connection between pisteology and piscatology (fishing)?

Kathleen Lynch, Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World

The cover of Kathleen Lynch's 'Protestant Autobiography'.

Kathleen Lynch’s Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World, published by Oxford University Press earlier this year, is a major new study of early modern spiritual autobiography, with a particular emphasis upon the testimonies collected together, discussed, and laid out in print by members of England’s and America’s gathered churches in the mid-seventeenth century. Continue reading

Did Christ convert?

The Magdalen Reading before 1438, Rogier van der Weyden

An earlier blog ( July 1, Conversion Problems of Definition) mentioned the wide variety of definitions of conversion that were employed by the participants in the Conversion ‘Narratives in the Early Modern World’ conference. As Abi notes, the list of suggestions give an indication of the sheer complexity of religious experience during this period. Continue reading

Love thy neighbour?

Tittle Tattle

A conference at Bath Spa University will explore what it meant to be neighbours in medieval and early modern Europe. The conference Call for Papers includes the idea of neighbours facing each other not across fences (most early modern houses were notoriously lacking in private space or well-demarcated boundaries) but across confessional divides, when neighbours belonged to different churches. Continue reading

The dangers of coffee, early modern style…

Sign commemorating London's first coffee house

In 1652, London’s first coffee house opened its doors. Historians have celebrated the vibrant coffee-house culture of the early modern period, and have argued that coffee houses offered a venue which made possible new kinds of political debate and participation in a developing public sphere. A slightly different companion story is, however, suggested in the nickname the first coffee house quickly gained amongst the local community: the Turk’s Head. Continue reading