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The three subchapters illustrate, how the authors from the Medieval period down to the fifth century have heavily relied on Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church history to writing their own beginnings of Christianity. In addition, they drew heavily on pseudonymous material outside the New Testament canon which they largely ignored. Driven by the challenges of their own times and in answering questions of their own days they developed the beginnings of Christianity from Frankish and late Roman perspectives. In these, vernacular, Greek and Roman cultural elements were deeply inter-related and re-projected into earlier times, while Christianity became regarded as the filter through which to perceive and judge the past.
From the sixth century onwards, numerous visions of the afterlife and the otherworld were recorded by authors who operated in the post-Roman barbarian West. The most prevailing characteristics of all these accounts are their brevity and conciseness. More often than not, these stories were integrated into a larger historical or hagiographic narrative, in an attempt to stress various political, religious, or cultural points. It was only towards the end of the Merovingian period, with the composition of the so-called Visio Baronti, that more comprehensive accounts of the afterlife began to appear in the West, and thus paved the way for the emergence of a new literary genre. This chapter discusses the evolution of these narratives, as well as the various possible reasons why travels to the otherworld became a seminal component in the historiographical and hagiographical tradition of the early medieval West.
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