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In the growing canon consciousness of the fourth century, Christians debated what should constitute the official reading list for the church. Epiphanius of Salamis was part of this conversation. His massive Panarion described eighty heresies, and, for Epiphanius, wrong books were a marker of wrong belief. However, although Epiphanius was a stringent supporter of Nicene orthodoxy, he, too, referred to books outside the canon. In the Panarion, he frequently referenced Jubilees, an expanded, rewritten Genesis found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and which also circulated among early Christian readers. The Decree of Gelasius later declared the text anathema. This paper explores the significance of a vocal heresiographer reading Jubilees, particularly when he defined heretics based on similar reading practices. It suggests that Epiphanius saw close kinship between Jubilees and his own Panarion. The citations of Jubilees in the Panarion also indicate that Epiphanius defined the text as a part of a larger Christian tradition. In doing so, Epiphanius transformed Jubilees from Jewish apocrypha to Christian tradition. Thus, the citations of Jubilees in Epiphanius's Panarion show the complicated dynamics of canon consciousness in the shaping of Christian Orthodoxy.
This essay explores eighth- and early ninth-century Frankish understandings and experiences of churches as holy spaces, arguing that myriad textual genres demonstrate the widespread Carolingian belief in churches as highly sacred spaces as well as the significant variations in the specifics and execution of that belief. The first part of the article details how Carolingian legislation worked to define, recognize, and maintain the sacred space of churches by insisting upon specific, respectful behaviors within them. The central portion of the article considers epistolary and hagiographical texts that describe and, at times, accept transgressions of these laws, including by an elite member of the Carolingian court. The article contends that not all misbehavior and misuse of churches defiled them; rather, inappropriate behaviors often highlighted or activated the sanctity of a space in a way that legislation could not. This essay, in triangulating Carolingian legislative, hagiographical, and epistolary texts, opens a window onto the views of the laity regarding churches as sacred spaces. Ultimately, it raises questions about the extent (and limits) of Frankish beliefs regarding spatial sacrality, the reach of the Carolingian reform efforts, and the nature of lay religiosity.
In research concerning the spread of eleventh-century ecclesiastical reform ideas, papal protection bulls have been somewhat overlooked as scholarship has privileged more obvious instruments of papal politics, such as legates, councils, canon law, papal letters, and friendship networks. This is not surprising considering the fact that the only documents preserved are very often the bulls themselves, making it virtually impossible to reconstruct the impact that they had on the local churches. Therefore, the availability of several narrative sources discussing the reception of the bulls Gregory VII issued in favor of the Benedictine abbey of Saint Hubert in the diocese of Liège in 1074 and of the priory of regular canons in Watten in the diocese of Thérouanne in 1077 is truly unique. While these accounts are heavily biased, they permit us to catch a rare glimpse of how bulls were received at the grassroots level. As becomes clear from their stormy reception, the charters prompted discussion in the episcopal entourage about questions of ecclesiastical hierarchy, procedure, papal obedience, and episcopal authority. They cleverly rooted the papal reform program in the midst of far-off but politically important dioceses and forced bishop and clergy to take a stance in the reform debate.
In 1709, William Freke, a pious, well-educated, and well-read English gentleman living in Dorset, declared to the world that he was the second coming of Elijah, sent to announce the arrival of the New Jerusalem and to proclaim the beginning of Christ's reign upon earth. There is no evidence to indicate that anyone at the time took him seriously, and given this absence of contemporary interest, it might be tempting to dismiss Freke as an isolated and insignificant crackpot. But this would be a misreading of his career. Research over the past couple of decades has decisively determined that the twenty years following 1690 were a period of intense religious speculation in England and the larger Atlantic world when expectations of the millennium were high. Far from being an isolated enthusiast crying in the wilderness, Freke was in fact a prophet who was connected in a variety of ways to a much larger network of religious enthusiasts in England and on the Continent that reveals much about the religious milieu of, and the millenarian interconnections that existed during, the last decade of the seventeenth and first decade of the eighteenth century.
From the 1840s to the 1870s, the first wave of Spiritualism swept across the Atlantic world. Many social reformers looked to messages from the spiritual realm to bolster their endeavors for this-worldly improvement. The Catholic Church, sensing diabolic powers at work, condemned the movement and its attendant reforms. It therefore surprised many when, in the mid-1850s, the spirits of dead Jesuits prompted Mary Gove Nichols and Thomas Low Nichols—both prominent Spiritualists and reformers—to convert to Catholicism. While the Nicholses are best known for their reform efforts, as their conversions suggest, they also led vibrant religious lives. By charting their religious biographies and using previously neglected writings, this article demonstrates that the Nicholses abandoned neither Spiritualism nor reform upon their conversion. Rather, they argued that both séance supernaturalism and social reformation should be pursued within the Catholic Church. In this way, the Nicholses challenged the church's attempts to demarcate acceptable spirituality, intentionally crossing and blurring received religious boundaries. In doing so, they redefined what it meant to be Catholic in order to accommodate their experiences and commitments. Their story recasts the history of Spiritualism and Catholicism as a boundary contest and provides a detailed case study of the process of religious hybridization.
Devotion to the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Los Angeles has a complex and multifaceted history. This article will discuss the initial celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe, beginning with a procession in 1928 and developing with increasing popularity in the 1930s. By 1941, the Virgin of Guadalupe had become an important political and religious symbol for the archbishop of Los Angeles, John J. Cantwell, who conducted a pilgrimage to Mexico City, during which he reconfirmed the significance of the Guadalupe image for the Los Angeles Catholic community. In commemoration of Archbishop Cantwell's historic visit, a fragment of the tilma, the cloak on which the Virgin of Guadalupe representation had appeared, was offered to Los Angeles. As the only known piece of the tilma currently found outside of Mexico City, this relic has great devotional significance. As this article will show, the tilma relic disappeared into relative obscurity following its arrival in Los Angeles, only to become a renewed focus of devotion over sixty years later, in 2003. This article will conclude with the reasons behind the relic's revival through a discussion of Juan Diego and his canonization.