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Christian philosophy brought peace to Europe and America

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dr.bob
1242332.  Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:24 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
Except perhaps the Amish. : p


"The more progressive Amish homes can have kitchens and bathrooms resembling non-Amish ones, illuminate their homes using built-in fixtures burning propane gas, while solar panels mounted on the roof charge batteries for a variety of devices."

Amish solar panels? No, me neither.


s: https://www.dutchcrafters.com/blog/everything-you-want-to-know-about-types-of-amish/

 
Celebaelin
1242344.  Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:28 am Reply with quote

Well that took a while!

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
and in fact the non-violent message of Christianity, possibly combined with the economic benefits that brought, is what seems to have been the driving force behind the abatement of tribal conflicts in these regions.

This may be how it seems to you, but others are far from convinced. Indeed, I would re-write your statement as "in fact the economic benefits of empire, possibly combined with the non-violent message of Christianity, is what seems to have been the driving force behind the abatement of tribal conflicts in these regions."

The entire proposition is a matter of perception so it is your prerogative to place whatever emphasis you chose on the events and outcomes of history as far as we can establish them.

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
Whether this progress would have occurred anywhere in the complete absence of the Pax Romana and its role in allowing Christianity to take hold has been the subject of some discussion. It is reasonable to speculate that it might not

Is it? Given the history of virtually every part of the world shows a progression from warlike tribes to peaceful large economies, I would infer that it's quite a stretch to speculate that Europe would not have made the same transition even in the complete absence of the Romans or the Christians.

Let’s be clear here; I was suggesting, in a rather conciliatory way I thought, that the Pax Romana was an enabling step in the rise of Christianity. Later Christianity extended its influence over larger areas than the Roman Empire ever covered. You appear to have misinterpreted my intention somewhat; first you re- raised the point that neither the Pax Romana (or a local geographic equivalent) nor a subsequent progression to Christianity were observed elsewhere*. Fine so far, to that extent our opinions are mutually consistent in that in the absence of the territorially large peaceful society under the dominion of the Roman Empire Christianity does not take hold. You then intimate that the economic development of the world in the modern understanding arose spontaneously worldwide. I don’t think this is the case; the new technologies and knowledge arose in (Christian, stable, prosperous, heavily populated) Europe and were carried elsewhere by explorers and merchants in search of new lands, resources and markets. The Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and English all set sail for the Far East in search of trading opportunities and in the process happened across a whole new continent ripe for exploitation! This mercantile aggression shaped the rest of the world. This is of course profit driven not the result of religious belief but the societal, legal and political developments which made it possible are historically underpinned by the Christian faith.

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
Romans were 'tolerant' of anyone who acted and behaved in a way that was acceptable to them and rather brutal to those who did not. The Roman Catholic Church ultimately behaved similarly but with different rules.

Fair point, though it does seem to imply that the influence of the Christian church on people's lives was no better or worse than the influence of the non-Christian Romans.

That was my intention, yes. Comprehension of these matters requires an understanding of the times not the judgement we would apply from a modern perspective. I’m reminded of a summation of Machiavelli I once made on another board “At his best - ahead of his time, at his worst - a head on a spike.”

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
In Italy in particular the combatants were mainly foreign mercenaries (condottieri such as John Hawkwood) and the local populations were largely unaffected.

Mainly foreign mercenaries? Are you implying that over 50% of the people involved in those battles were foreigners? Do you have any evidence to support this statement?

I believe that to be the case, yes.

Quote:
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Italian city-states of Venice, Florence, and Genoa were very rich from their trade with the Levant, yet possessed woefully small national armies. In the event that foreign powers and envious neighbors attacked, the ruling nobles hired foreign mercenaries to fight for them. The military-service terms and conditions were stipulated in a condotta (contract) between the city-state and the soldiers (officer and enlisted man), thus, the contracted leader, the mercenary captain commanding, was titled the Condottiere.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condottieri

Quote:
...most mercenaries were foreign soldiers of fortune for whom Italy had become a favourite destination. Some came with one or other of the Emperors and foreign princes who sought to intervene in Italian affairs and stayed on to ply their trade. Others came to seek their fortune when other wars, such as the Hundred Years War, abated and left them unemployed.

https://medium.com/the-history-buff/the-scourge-of-italy-the-condottieri-and-their-mercenary-armies-7fca2cc626a8

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
Christianity, as I've said, has no place in war. Wars are a secular matter almost exclusively instigated and/or conducted by political rather than religious bodies.

Now this is simply not playing fair. Your basic claim is that Christian philosophy lead to a reduction in warlike behaviour. However, when warlike behaviour is pointed out, you seem to be saying "that doesn't disprove my claim because those wars aren't Christian." Of course wars tend to be secular, and are carried out for political reasons, but that also applies to the warlike behaviour that occurred before the Roman Empire.

If you're saying that Christianity caused a reduction in all war-like behaviour, then you have to tackle the presence of these secular, political wars. If, instead, you're saying that Christianity caused a reduction just in religious wars, then you have to accept that most pre-Christian wars were also secular and political. Either way, your claim doesn't stand up.

Celebaelin wrote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas

The distinction I would make is between a warlike society and a Christian one which at least purports to value peace. Ideals and philosophies are distinct from pragmatism and practice and the desire to conduct wars for gain or the necessity to conduct them for self-preservation is simply a painful fact of existence.

Overall what I am trying to convey is that in my opinion tribal society was openly and intentionally warlike with conflicts lasting over generations continuing sporadically in the form of raids on one neighbour or another. Christian society nominally reviles war as the antithesis of everything it stands for. Accepting that, for reasons of state, war is sometimes necessary or desirable is not a Christian perspective it is a monstrous but practical one. Society in general can reflect Christian values even while its leaders make some specific decisions which are not based on Christian thought or belief but are in fact completely opposed to them. The ramifications for those leaders and those whose loyalties they demand will of course depend on the individual circumstances. Compare and contrast Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler (yah boo sucks to you and your Law Mr Godwin).

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
I do think it is rather unfair to say European wars are evidence of the lack of impact of Christianity rather than to say that there were other factors in play.

There were certainly other factors in play. However, you are claiming that Christian philosophy spread the idea of peace and reduced warlike behaviour. The presence of these wars, whether or not they were fought by "Christians" (however you choose to define them), surely shows evidence that Christian philosophy was not as successful at convincing everyone to live in peace as you seem to be implying.

In saying that you must accept that warlike behaviour is inherently unchristian. Perhaps it will be clearer if we consider murder rates rather than wars since murder is more likely to be an individual choice rather than at the behest of some political authority.



dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
You also seem to have argued in earlier posts that those wars which were religiously motivated eg the Crusades are also de facto evidence of the lack of impact of Christianity 'proper' because it is philosophically opposed to war.

You seem to have misunderstood, my point is actually quite the opposite. I see examples such as the Crusades (particularly that against the Cathars) as evidence that "Christianity", as it was practised in medieval Europe, had a very strong impact on people's lives. It's just that the impact was rather different from the one you seem to think it was.

I see, we’re back to Urban II and “redeem all your sins and earn your place in heaven by killing heretics and non-Christians”. I trust you understand why I don’t consider this attitude to be a Christian one.

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.
Kill them all. God will know his own.

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
By linking the rise in secularism and the diminished intensity of European wars in the nuclear age you imply that Christian philosophy supports the pursuit of war – do you really intend this?


To an extent.

Well I don’t imagine you thought I’d agree with you on that point.

dr.bob wrote:
It is my belief that Christian philosophy, particularly as practised in medieval and Renaissance Europe, promoted division from and intolerance of anyone who disagreed with the church's position. Promoting this kind of "them-and-us" philosophy certainly made war-like behaviour more likely, even if it didn't directly cause it.

I’m not sure that is borne out by any known statistics but the fear of persecution and torture probably had a lot to do with people’s inclination towards orthodox Christian behaviour.

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
dr.bob wrote:
When the empire falls, and the Christians take over, history sees a marked rise in levels of warlike behaviour, for whatever reason.

I’m unsure if this is actually the case compared with pre-Roman levels – the chances are we’ll never know and individual perception is not a reliable source.

If we'll never know whether levels of warlike behaviour were higher or lower in pre-Roman times, how can you possibly claim that warlike behaviour has been reduced by Christian philosophy?

Historical sources and tribal tales all point towards a warlike mindset in most areas in pre-Roman times. Since this later ceased to be the case I infer that the actual numbers and/or percentages of casualties of conflict also decreased but there are no figures available that I am aware of so this is a supposition not irrefutable fact.

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
If it were to be established that it was so then rising population density, greater speed of communication (or more accurately evidence of lack thereof) and opportunist attacks by non-Christians against a largely unarmed Christian populace could all be sited as factors.

Here you seem to be saying that, even if levels of warlike behaviour were higher after the advent of Christianity, it wasn't Christianity's fault, so that doesn't disprove your statement that Christianity reduced warlike behaviour.

You reference a rise in warlike behaviour but I doubt that you can provide evidence that this is so; if only because no records exist from pre-Roman times. Point by point however 1) if numbers were greater then rising population should certainly be factored in 2) increased speed of communication raising the pace of life generally might lead to more tension causing exchanges and 3) attacks from outside the Christian sphere of influence cannot be said to have been the fault of Christianity – that would be like blaming a murder on the victim.

dr.bob wrote:
Out of interest, is there any hypothetical evidence that could ever disprove your statement, or are the goalposts sufficiently movable as to make the statement a) completely impossible to disprove and b) entirely meaningless?

Hey!

In truth I can’t answer that question. In theory my opinion is open to change by a convincing argument but if I was already aware of that argument my perception of the progress of history wouldn’t be what it is. The statement that

Celebaelin wrote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas

May not be provable or disprovable; it may not even be wrong as it were - but the evidence I’ve seen supports the decrease in violence without definitively establishing the link to Christianity whereas you seem keenly focused on disproving that the trend towards peace has existed in the long-term.

This (too big to insert) graph seems to uphold my assertion

https://msjjonsey.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/death.png

Where ‘per’ is taken in its sense as ‘through’ that is.

Another big graph

https://ourworldindata.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/ourworldindata_percentage-of-years-in-which-the-great-powers-fought-one-another-1500%E2%80%932000.png

And another

https://www.wykop.pl/cdn/c3201142/comment_UZEY7zMxtnKx4vt7BeUsdAmDLA6kPLhc.jpg

This one needs to be viewed relative to an exponentially increasing world population.

A really, really big graph which is actually smaller and easier to see if you click on it to ‘expand’.

http://imgur.com/0njQl1k

So, if these sources are trustworthy then the number of wars has increased over time but percentage deaths decreases – who’d’ve thought!


*I’m uncertain that the rulers in China and India didn’t have some sort of Pax Romana equivalent so this may be debateable. I suspect the regional governors of the Roman Empire had more power than their equivalents elsewhere and exerted a greater stabilising influence.


Last edited by Celebaelin on Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Celebaelin
1242350.  Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:13 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I thought people would suggest the Reformation, but actually I think it is a gross overestimation to suggest that any beyond a small minority actually read the Bible outside church before the Victorian period.

The translation of the Bible into English is said to be the cause of the rise in literacy in the UK and that in turn is alleged to be ultimately resonsible for the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the gentleman scientist.

Quote:
If (as hath been showed) all ought to read the scriptures then all ages, all sexes, all degrees and callings, all high and low, rich and poor, wise and foolish have a necessary duty therein
English Puritan minister Thomas Cartwright, 1570

Quote:
Just 70 years before William Shakespeare put pen to paper, there was no viable written English language. Scholars and academics at universities and professions in business and law spoke Latin, the universal language of the day throughout England and Europe. The king and nobility spoke Norman French. English peasants, a marginalized people group of that time, who spoke a throw away language, English were seen as beyond reach of the Gospel.

The first English translation of the Bible was done in the 14th century by John Wycliffe. William Tyndale took English translation to a whole new level by doing an excellent translation of the Bible creating modern English. Translating from Hebrew and Greek, his translation was accurate and at times poetic and memorable. Caught, tried and sentenced to death, his dying wish as he was burned at the stake was “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes.” The following year King Henry VIII allowed English Bibles to be distributed in England. Then, in 1539, Henry VIII allowed publication of “the Great Bible,” which included Tyndale’s translation.

Even more amazing is that in a period of 100 years reading and writing English among males in England went from about 5 percent of the population to 25% eventually reaching 40% of the population. By 1770, shopkeepers were 95% literate. Literacy in England is directly attributable to the Bible.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/11/the-bibles-influence-the-bible-and-written-literac/

Quote:
By 1538, all parish churches were ordered to equip themselves with an English Bible for public readings. In 1539, an official translation, the “Great Bible,” was published.

The new availability of the Scriptures for reading in church and of cheaper editions for private reading was an undoubted spur to lay literacy. On one hand, it gave the literate new material, essential texts, on which to work their skills of reading; on the other, its presence and popularity among the populace stimulated others to acquire the tools of literacy. In the few, but increasing, households that owned books, the Bible and other devotional literature were among the most common.

The Legacies of Literacy – Continuities and Contradictions in Western Culture and Society
Harvey J. Graff pg 151-152

 
bobwilson
1242386.  Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:58 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
The translation of the Bible into English is said to be the cause of the rise in literacy in the UK and that in turn is alleged to be ultimately resonsible for the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the gentleman scientist.


I would grant you that (I can’t see any obvious objections to your statement). I’d even go further and assert that a rise in literacy would, over the longer timescale, generally be responsible for a more peaceful existence. However, the original assertion was that

Quote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas


While it is true that the first books to be widely available in the vernacular were religious texts (specifically the Christian Bible and commentaries on it, plus other religious writings), I would say it is very tenuous to claim that for Christian Philosophy. In fact, it’s probably more reasonable to claim that one for the Marxist theory of history – ie that everything reverts to Class War.

Essentially, what you had in (say) 12th to 15th century England, was a society in which the peasant spoke one language, and was subject to a ruling class who had at their disposal secret knowledge, written in secret books, and only accessible to those who understood the secret language. Under those circumstances, it is natural for the peasant to wonder what power might be held in those secret books. It is equally natural for factions of the (inevitably) warring ruling class to claim that their factional cause is the one prescribed by these Oracular books.

You can gauge the mood of the times by the reaction of the extant power to publication of the Bible in English.

However, it’s questionable whether that transition, from the Bible being only available in untranslated, pristine, original form to being available in the equivalent of patois, has anything to do with Christian philosophy. Sounds more like a populist leader appealing to the masses to me.

There IS an exhortation in Christian philosophy which says basically “go out and tell everyone about this – right now”, which also kind of implies “and make sure it’s translated into language they can understand”. The translation of the Bible into local languages was the reaction of one sect within the Christian Church (let’s call them the “pro-educationalists” and to be clear, I’d say that would include Wycliffe and Tyndale); another sect (and these we shall call the “historical prioritists” – those who claim special status for the Bible) claimed that meant that you should keep it simple for simple people. That debate, in modified form, rages to this day.

The translation of the Bible into English (and the ensuing mass publication of same) does indeed fuel literacy, but the impetus for those activities comes not from Christian philosophy but from a sectarian debate within the Church about the secular activities of the Church.

On the one hand you have the “it says here in the Bible – so it must be true” crowd; and you have the “actually, it doesn’t say that at all” crowd. The latter, being in opposition (so to speak), appeal to the masses – by giving them the actual “Word of God” – in a language they can understand.

It is the education which leads to the progress of what we like to call civilisation – the Church has, if anything, a negative role.

Since those early days, the start position of the historical prioritists has migrated
a) “it says here in the bible so it must be true………..”
b) following publication of translated bible “……….it depends on how you read that passage – when it says ‘thou shalt not kill’ ……….. “
c) l
d) l
e) …………
f) following widespread education, a rise in scientific discovery, a generally more peaceful society (notwithstanding some aberrations) “now you see, that was all down to Christian philosophy leading us to make sure that earlier learnings were available to later explorers”
The church, at a pinch, could be said to be responsible for maintaining a continuity of learning (although that’s a very tenuous link). But Christian philosophy? No. Factional battles on what Christianity teaches continue to have only a braking influence on education and knowledge. They’ve always had a braking influence.

In fact, I think it would be more reasonable to say
Quote:

The transformation from a warlike to an agrarian industrial culture in Europe and the Americas has progressed despite corrupting influences (notable among which is the various sectarian battles within the Christian church) and has led to the paradox of the peaceful society.

 
Celebaelin
1242390.  Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:13 pm Reply with quote

I'll get back to you on that later because I've convinced myself that my initial, totally booze-addled, response won't cover it adequately.

( ;

 
dr.bob
1242417.  Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:59 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
Well that took a while!


But worth the wait. There's a lot to get through there, so I'll reply at some point. However, I just wanted to address one point from your next post:

Celebaelin wrote:
The translation of the Bible into English is said to be the cause of the rise in literacy in the UK


This is, again, confusing correlation and causation. Having read a thoroughly interesting book* about the history of writing and printing and books generally, I've learned a bit about this.

The rise in literacy in the UK, indeed in Europe and around the world, is linked to the printing press. Before this invention, books had to be written out by hand by scribes. This was a fantastically laborious process which meant that books were stupidly expensive. Even if a poor labourer had somehow learned to read, he wouldn't have been able to buy anything to practise on as a single book would've cost him years worth of his salary (and there weren't any lending libraries around at the time).

The printing press changed all this. Now books could be produced en masse, massively reducing the cost. This brought them into the price range of, initially, middle class mercantile types and, eventually with increased technology, the working man. The ready availability of reading material made it a practical proposition for ordinary people to learn to read. Indeed, some of the early printing press volumes were textbooks to teach people how to read. The reason why the rise of the printing press has become associated with printing Bibles is simple economics.

When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, the first thing he printed seems to have been a German poem. William Caxton, who introduced the press to England, began by printing a French courtly romance, the "Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye." The first work he created in England was a copy of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales."

However, setting up a printing press in those days required a huge amount of investment (Gutenberg was famously sued by his financial backer who ended up taking ownership of his printing press after Gutenberg had refused to pay his bills). In order to recoup that money, the press had to produce stuff that would be economically viable**. Many of the early works were already-popular collections of poems or literature. However, there was one, ready-made market. When the printing press was invented, most literate people were priests. Thus, the biggest market for books was Bibles.

This was especially true in England when, after Henry VIII split with Rome, he decreed that every church in the land should have a Bible in English. Given that every tiny village had its own church, that was a vast number of Bibles required, far more than could realistically be produced by scribes. So anyone setting up a printing press could be pretty sure that, if he produced a Bible, he would have no trouble selling it for a pretty healthy profit.

For this reason, the translation of the Bible into English certainly happened at the same time as the rise of literacy in the UK. However, it can not really be said to be the "cause" of the rise of literacy, since that was simply due to the technological advance reducing the price and making texts widely available to the common man.




*I'd love to recommend it, but it's titled simply "The Book". Trying to search for that on Amazon breaks their search function, so I'll have to wait until I get home and can look up the author's name before I can post a link.

**As an aside, I'll simply note here that one of the first money-spinners Gutenberg hit upon was printing "Indulgences" for the Vatican.

 
'yorz
1242424.  Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:55 am Reply with quote

Was it this book, dr.bob? (even if it isn't, it looks rather interesting and up me street)

 
Celebaelin
1242457.  Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:07 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
While it is true that the first books to be widely available in the vernacular were religious texts (specifically the Christian Bible and commentaries on it, plus other religious writings), I would say it is very tenuous to claim that for Christian Philosophy. In fact, it’s probably more reasonable to claim that one for the Marxist theory of history – ie that everything reverts to Class War.

Essentially, what you had in (say) 12th to 15th century England, was a society in which the peasant spoke one language, and was subject to a ruling class who had at their disposal secret knowledge, written in secret books, and only accessible to those who understood the secret language. Under those circumstances, it is natural for the peasant to wonder what power might be held in those secret books. It is equally natural for factions of the (inevitably) warring ruling class to claim that their factional cause is the one prescribed by these Oracular books.

Arguing that people reading the Bible and other devotional text has nothing to do with Christian philosophy is not very convincing. I understand the point you are making – that the general population, or some elements thereof, were hungry to learn the secrets rather than to read the Bible for its own sake but the rapacious reading of the repository of those ‘powerful secrets’ did occur and if that knowledge was deemed to be important or, as I would put it, to be the fuel for discussion or debate amongst the newly literate, then this must be considered as a widespread interest in Christian teaching and thought.

bobwilson wrote:
You can gauge the mood of the times by the reaction of the extant power to publication of the Bible in English.

Since Henry VIII eventually sanctioned the translation of the Bible into English I must assume his objection was more about expressing his authority as King than to the English Bible per se. The Roman Catholic Church naturally had a vested interest in being ‘the only game in town’ but the advent of Protestant notions of religion at this time complicates matters making it difficult to distinguish exactly why they would be opposed to any particular aspect of the Reformation. Indeed Wycliffe was not only an unsanctioned translator of the Bible into English he had advocated a reform of the traditions of Rome before Luther.

This passage seems pertinent to the direction this discussion has taken regarding secular imperatives; it doesn’t bear greatly on your most recent post but as background information I think it merits inclusion.

Quote:
The political problems which Luther and the sects of the Reformation bequeathed to John Calvin centered on a developing crisis in the concept of order and in the Western traditions of civility. Lutheran and sectarian criticism of Roman Catholic Christianity had focused upon a demand to free the individual believer from a mass of institutional controls and traditional restraints. This liberation had encouraged the development of a conception of the religious community as a fellowship bound together by ties of faith, love, and the worshiped presence of Christ, but it had invited avoidance, indifference, even antagonism toward the harsher political realities. In this crisis of order, Calvin put forward a system of ideas which stemmed the flight from civility. Calvin provided Protestantism with a fully developed doctrinal and political system as an alternative to Roman Catholic thought and organization. While Luther spoke in anguish of the great dilemmas of faith—freedom and authority, anxiety and justification—Calvin belonged to the second generation of Protestants, concerned with systematic innovation in moral conduct and social organization.

In his “Dedication” to the Institutes, Calvin made clear that he belonged to the Reformation, reflecting Luther’s statement of the primary principle of Protestantism: “While we make use of their [the Church Fathers’] writings, we always remember that ‘all things are ours’; to serve us, not to have dominion over us, and that ‘we are Christ’s alone,’ and owe him universal obedience. He who neglects this distinction [from the papal tradition] will have nothing decided in religion.” But the whole thrust of Calvin’s thought is that Christianity constitutes far more a faith of discipline and obedience than of justification. “And doubtless this is the priesthood of the Christian pastor, that is, to sacrifice men, as it were, to God, by bringing them to obey the gospel, and not, as the Papists have hitherto haughtily vaunted, by offering up Christ to reconcile men to God” ([1540] 1948, p. 527).

http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/protestant-political-thought#A

bobwilson wrote:
However, it’s questionable whether that transition, from the Bible being only available in untranslated, pristine, original form to being available in the equivalent of patois, has anything to do with Christian philosophy. Sounds more like a populist leader appealing to the masses to me.

The Bible had been translated into Latin in the form of the Vulgate by the late 4th century so in the interests of accuracy (or should that read pedantry) it wasn’t actually in its ‘untranslated, pristine, original form’. To address your actual point however of course it has to do with Christian philosophy; you could no more have a debate about the interpretation of the Bible without exploring Christian philosophy than you could have a debate about The Origin of Species without exploring evolutionary biology.

bobwilson wrote:
On the one hand you have the “it says here in the Bible – so it must be true” crowd; and you have the “actually, it doesn’t say that at all” crowd. The latter, being in opposition (so to speak), appeal to the masses – by giving them the actual “Word of God” – in a language they can understand.

How in the name of Wallace’s Wensleydale can you say that is not a matter of Christian philosophy?

bobwilson wrote:
The church, at a pinch, could be said to be responsible for maintaining a continuity of learning (although that’s a very tenuous link). But Christian philosophy? No. Factional battles on what Christianity teaches continue to have only a braking influence on education and knowledge. They’ve always had a braking influence.

I don’t see how being ‘jointly and severally’ responsible for the establishment of libraries, the (hand written) copying of books and the preservation of knowledge of all varieties could be described as ‘a very tenuous link’ to a continuity of learning. On the grounds that debate strengthens and broadens understanding factional battles will, whilst polarising opinion, expand the comprehension of witnesses and participants. Since in this instance that debate is on religious matters then obviously Christian philosophy is central to this and the developments in perspective that materialise through debate influence subsequent thought. As such I reject your modification of my opening assertion.


Last edited by Celebaelin on Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:31 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Celebaelin
1242473.  Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:09 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
The translation of the Bible into English is said to be the cause of the rise in literacy in the UK

This is, again, confusing correlation and causation. Having read a thoroughly interesting book* about the history of writing and printing and books generally, I've learned a bit about this.

The rise in literacy in the UK, indeed in Europe and around the world, is linked to the printing press. Before this invention, books had to be written out by hand by scribes.
//
For this reason, the translation of the Bible into English certainly happened at the same time as the rise of literacy in the UK. However, it can not really be said to be the "cause" of the rise of literacy, since that was simply due to the technological advance reducing the price and making texts widely available to the common man.

I don't doubt that the printing press was a factor in terms of availability and affordability but your argument is incomplete and to a certain extent circular.

Only priests are literate, priests want Bibles, printers print Bibles, printing costs drop with volume, more people can afford books and teach themselves to read. BUT why buy Bibles if there is no particular interest in them? This is the time of the reformation and the unification of English into a single language rather than a collection of regional dialects and this happens AS A RESULT OF people buying and reading the Bible in English which they do in order to better understand the mysteries of faith BECAUSE they have an interest and a belief in Christianity and the redemption of their immortal souls through worship of God and following the teachings of Jesus.

No other book would have had such universal appeal and thus no other book could have resulted (accidentally I think) in the unification of the English language. IIRC there was a book on agricultural best practice and farm management (or similar) which sold quite well as well, but not in Bible numbers. I haven't been able to track that title down however.

<E> their immortal souls


Last edited by Celebaelin on Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Jenny
1242483.  Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:05 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
BUT why buy Bibles if there is no particular interest in them? This is the time of the reformation and the unification of English into a single language rather than a collection of regional dialects and this happens AS A RESULT OF people buying and reading the Bible in English which they do in order to better understand the mysteries of faith BECAUSE they have an interest and a belief in Christianity and the redemption of their mortal soul through worship of God and following the teachings of Jesus.


I think you're over-egging your argument there. Why buy Bibles? How about lack of alternative, and the Bible containing a lot of rather good stories? Not much in the OT that promotes peace and lack of warmongering. How about it being a common cultural thread, rather in the way TV or FB is now? No novels until Defoe, plays not being read much, etc.

Read Pepys' Diary - he was a highly literate well educated man, a regular church goer. I've read his diary all the way through and there is very little in there about reading the Bible, but plenty about other books he bought, some of which were quite naughty. Most people who didn't have much in the way of money to buy books might have bought the Bible as a foundational and familiar text, but I don't see a necessary basis for your argument that they were reading it as an act of faith.

 
bobwilson
1242502.  Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:51 pm Reply with quote

Actually Cel, I don’t think you have understood the point I’m trying to make (my error).

Back in the day, when bibles were copied out laboriously by hand, and were therefore rare and expensive items, it would be impossible for your average peasant to know if his priest was telling it like it is, or just making it up as he went along. This would be exacerbated by having the text in an arcane language (Latin, Hebrew, it’s all Greek to me).

There’s nothing in Christian Philosophy that says “make sure everyone gets educated” (although I think there’s something along those lines in Islamic Philosophy – memory’s going these days). The nearest you get to that in Christian Philosophy is an exhortation to spread the word. How that word is to be spread (and to some extent, what that word says) is left to the discretion of the individual.

With such vagueness, interpretations of the Bible are as common as dandelion seeds, and inevitably within the church there are factional squabbles – there’s one highlighted in the Calvin quote you gave:

Quote:
“And doubtless this is the priesthood of the Christian pastor, that is, to sacrifice men, as it were, to God, by bringing them to obey the gospel, and not, as the Papists have hitherto haughtily vaunted, by offering up Christ to reconcile men to God”


At the time of Calvin, the Papists were the ruling faction. The accepted norm was that “Christ died for our sins – even ones not yet committed. As long as you accept Christ then the slate is wiped clean for you”. The results of such an interpretation are inevitable, and would have been extraordinarily visible in Calvin’s time.

Calvin’s interpretation was that “Christ’s sacrifice was by way of example, not a once and forever atonement for the sins of mankind. You were supposed to get people to become more Christ-like so they could inherit the kingdom of heaven, not suggest that you can be forgiven anything if the Bishop says so”.

Calvin is not in power – indeed, by the laws of historical necessity, he couldn’t be in power. When you’re not in power and you want to change things, the obvious recourse is to get numbers on your side (think Socialist Workers Party). Literacy, translation of the Bible, the printing press and Calvinism necessarily go hand in hand under such circumstances – both to get the message out to the widest possible audience, and to be able to refer to the acknowledged authoritative source (in this instance, the Bible) so that everyone can check for themselves.

None of that activity has anything to do with Christian Philosophy. It’s the result of factional infighting in the church.

Oh hang on – I’ve just had an epiphany. You’re saying that BECAUSE the factional infighting was around the issue of what Christian Philosophy actually is, that the predicate cause of the literacy ultimately arising from this factional infighting is Christian Philosophy.

Is that what you mean?

 
Celebaelin
1242552.  Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:46 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
BUT why buy Bibles if there is no particular interest in them?

I think you're over-egging your argument there. Why buy Bibles? How about lack of alternative, and the Bible containing a lot of rather good stories?

So your argument is that ordinary people didn’t read and think about Christian philosophy even though there was nothing else to occupy their minds? That’s not particularly persuasive if you don’t mind me saying so. Serious old-school God botherers would argue the toss back and forth citing obscure passages of scripture just for shits, giggles and intellectual exercise. My great-grandfather took a seriously heavily annotated* Welsh language Bible with him when he and his brother emigrated to America in the 1870’s (and brought it back with him when he came back).

I don't purport to be a Pepys scholar but was he not a wealthy Londoner at a time when England was a rising power in the world - he saw 350 Shakespearean performances in the 9 years covered by his diaries - this paints a picture of a life of opulent, dare I say dissolute, ease and not simple, earnest toil and quiet contemplation.

Quote:
Yet among his surviving papers is a cryptic document entitled ‘Notes from Discourses touching Religion’. Over ten pages, the paper discusses a spectrum of religious themes, drawing on the latest scientific theories and political debates. It proves to be a record of the books, manuscripts and conversations that were shaping the responses of Pepys and his associates to James’s controversial Catholicising policies.

https://academic.oup.com/ehr/article-abstract/CXXVII/524/46/422701/Samuel-Pepys-and-Discourses-touching-Religion?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Quote:
Dr Loveman judges Pepys a sceptic, if a Tory sceptic. Yet in the Notes he seems no more sceptical than, for example, Thomas Browne in Religio Medici. Both want to discount disagreements in religion on “indifferent” matters. Yet “how could it be expected that the Romanists and we should ever agree, when neither of us apart are ever likely to agree among ourselves”? By chance it is a question on Church unity very like one that I raised here last week.

When it came to it, in the plague year, Pepys prepared for death by sorting his papers and then reading, not the Bible or a Father of the Church, but a devotional book attributed to King Charles I.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/04/08/sacred-mysteries-what-samuel-pepys-had-hidden-in-his-closet/

The ‘Notes from Discourses touching Religion’ were written between 1685 and 1687.

* as published


Last edited by Celebaelin on Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:06 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Celebaelin
1242559.  Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:17 pm Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
Oh hang on – I’ve just had an epiphany. You’re saying that BECAUSE the factional infighting was around the issue of what Christian Philosophy actually is, that the predicate cause of the literacy ultimately arising from this factional infighting is Christian Philosophy.

Is that what you mean?

Essentially, yes; but I wouldn’t have used the word 'predicate' because it wasn’t in my active vocabulary at that point!

Seeking a superior argument about the interpretation of the Bible of itself moved the debate on to new positions of mature understanding. In order to participate in this ‘armchair pontification’ you needed to be able to cite scripture so you needed to be able to read and to have a Bible. My understanding is that many regarded this as a suitable, cheap* and proper way to pass the hours of rest.

<E> * Well now... ultimately cheap. Cheap once you have a Bible. Cheap once Bibles became affordable. Cheap compared to something that requires that you continue to spend money on it. Cheap compared to something that, erm, costs more money than it does.

 
Jenny
1242602.  Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:13 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:

So your argument is that ordinary people didn’t read and think about Christian philosophy even though there was nothing else to occupy their minds? That’s not particularly persuasive if you don’t mind me saying so. Serious old-school God botherers would argue the toss back and forth citing obscure passages of scripture just for shits, giggles and intellectual exercise. My great-grandfather took a seriously heavily annotated* Welsh language Bible with him when he and his brother emigrated to America in the 1870’s (and brought it back with him when he came back).


Not saying they didn't read and think about it at all - of course they did. It was a normal part of life. However, I think the move to more pacific conduct was not at the forefront of their minds - I doubt very much whether Christian philosophy influenced the public conduct of war at all. Wars were fought, as they always have been, over land, money, trade etc - all the usual things that still spark conflict today. Hence the argument that if anything it is the spread of democracy and globalization, and in particular the enlightened self-interest of realizing that modern warfare is incredibly damaging to the people (who in a democracy are the ones who can elect the government), so that international structures such as the UN have arisen to deal with international conflict. Obviously this is not totally successful in this yet, but nonetheless they are an advance on the previous situation in terms of peace. And ironically religion seems to be a major stumbling block here.

Celebaelin wrote:
I don't purport to be a Pepys scholar but was he not a wealthy Londoner at a time when England was a rising power in the world - he saw 350 Shakespearean performances in the 9 years covered by his diaries - this paints a picture of a life of opulent, dare I say dissolute, ease and not simple, earnest toil and quiet contemplation.


Comfortably off but by no means opulent. He counts up his money at regular intervals and is glad to see it increasing. He suffers guilt attacks at the number of plays he sees and feels he shouldn't see that many, but continues to do so. He is conscious that in his frequent infidelities and lusting after other women he is betraying his marriage vows, but it doesn't stop him doing it although he feels guilty. He often works in his office until well into the evening, so not really a life of ease or idleness. I guess in terms of affluence he would be comparable to a senior civil servant nowadays. So he may have been a Christian, and taken his religion reasonably seriously, but it doesn't actually stop him doing anything he wants - just causes him to feel guilty about it. Read Claire Tomalin's biography - very interesting.

 
Jenny
1242639.  Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:43 pm Reply with quote

Just out of interest I went to the Pepys diary website (we get sent an entry every day - I've been on this from the beginning and we are now on our second run through) and used their search function for Bible. https://goldin.shinyapps.io/Search_Pepys/ This was the result:

In the almost ten year run of the diary there are only nine references to the Bible, and these are they:

1 1660-05-25 "And so the Chancellor did not think fit to do it, but it still stands, to the undoing of one Norton, a printer, about his right to the printing of the Bible, and Grammar, &c. " (reference to a legal case)

2 1660-11-02 "In the afternoon I went forth and saw some silver bosses put upon my new Bible, which cost me 6s. 6d. the making, and 7s. 6d. the silver, which, with 9s. 6d. the book, comes in all to 1l. 3s. 6d. " (He's bought a new Bible but is far more concerned with how elaborately it's decorated than with the contents thereof.)

3 1663-06-05 "Thence to my brother’s, taking care for a passage for my wife the next week in a coach to my father’s, and thence to Paul’s Churchyard, where I found several books ready bound for me; among others, the new Concordance of the Bible, which pleases me much, and is a book I hope to make good use of."
(but you'll note he doesn't mention it thereafter).

4 1663-07-20 "Thence by water to the office, and taking some papers by water to White Hall and St. James’s, but there being no meeting with the Duke to-day, I returned by water and down to Greenwich, to look after some blocks that I saw a load carried off by a cart from Woolwich, the King’s Yard. But I could not find them, and so returned, and being heartily weary I made haste to bed, and being in bed made Will read and construe three or four Latin verses in the Bible, and chide him for forgetting his grammar. So to sleep, and sleep ill all the night, being so weary, and feverish with it." (Using it as a familiar text teaching aid for his servant boy.)

5 1663-11-15 "After a good supper with my wife, and hearing of the mayds read in the Bible, we to prayers, and to bed." (Again, being essentially used as a teaching aid rather than studied as a devotional text.)

6 1664-05-13 ."In the Painted Chamber I heard a fine conference between some of the two Houses upon the Bill for Conventicles. The Lords would be freed from having their houses searched by any but the Lord Lieutenant of the County; and upon being found guilty, to be tried only by their peers; and thirdly, would have it added, that whereas the Bill says, “That that, among other things, shall be a conventicle wherein any such meeting is found doing any thing contrary to the Liturgy of the Church of England,” they would have it added, “or practice.” The Commons to the Lords said, that they knew not what might hereafter be found out which might be called the practice of the Church of England; for there are many things may be said to be the practice of the Church, which were never established by any law, either common, statute, or canon; as singing of psalms, binding up prayers at the end of the Bible, and praying extempore before and after sermon: and though these are things indifferent, yet things for aught they at present know may be started, which may be said to be the practice of the Church which would not be fit to allow." (Account of a political debate.)

7 1666-08-26 "And so the Chancellor did not think fit to do it, but it still stands, to the undoing of one Norton, a printer, about his right to the printing of the Bible, and Grammar, &c." (Another reference to the same legal case.)

8 1666-10-05 "He do believe there is above; 50,000l. of books burned; all the great booksellers almost undone: not only these, but their warehouses at their Hall, and under Christchurch, and elsewhere being all burned. A great want thereof there will be of books, specially Latin books and foreign books; and, among others, the Polyglottes and new Bible, which he believes will be presently worth 40l. a-piece."

9 1667-05-27 "There come also Richardson, the bookbinder, with one of Ogilby’s Bibles in quires for me to see and buy, it being Mr. Cade’s, my stationer’s; but it is like to be so big that I shall not use it, it being too great to stir up and down without much trouble, which I shall not like nor do intend it for. " (Considering a purchase and turning it down because of its bulk.)

10 1667-07-14 "the women and W. Hewer and I walked upon the Downes, where a flock of sheep was; and the most pleasant and innocent sight that ever I saw in my life — we find a shepherd and his little boy reading, far from any houses or sight of people, the Bible to him; so I made the boy read to me, which he did, with the forced tone that children do usually read, that was mighty pretty, and then I did give him something, and went to the father, and talked with him; and I find he had been a servant in my cozen Pepys’s house, and told me what was become of their old servants. " (One account of somebody reading the Bible, but again note its use as a tool for teaching reading.)

11 1668-07-13 "Up, and to my office, and thence by water to White Hall to attend the Council, but did not, and so home to dinner, and so out with my wife, and Deb., and W. Hewer towards Cooper’s, but I ‘light and walked to Ducke Lane, and there to the bookseller’s; at the Bible, whose moher je have a mind to, but elle no erat dentro, but I did there look upon and buy some books, and made way for coming again to the man, which pleases me. " (A passing reference to a bookseller who sells Bibles, but mainly because Sam fancies his wife.)

So out of eleven references in the whole diary period, we only have three that involve reading the Bible, and all of them are in terms where it is used as a text to teach people to read rather than being studied in any devotional way. And Pepys, a regular churchgoer, was pretty much typical of his period.

 

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