Christianity and the Enlightenment

Henry, Martin (2004) Christianity and the Enlightenment. Irish Theological Quarterly, 69 (2). p. 188.

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It could be argued that the European Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is not merely a product of the Christian tradition, but is itself in a quite specific sense reminiscent of the original emergence of Christianity in the world of late antiquity. Just as Christianity, as a cultural entity, grew out of Judaism (a Judaism that had for some three centuries of course been exposed to various levels of contact with Hellenistic civilization), so, mutatis mutandis, the Enlightenment grew out of the European Christian tradition. Early Christianity had been an uneasy, even potentially volatile, synthesis of Jewish and Hellenistic components. And in time, this synthesis was to become the ‘soul’ of the initially ramshackle political entity that arose from the corpse of the Western Roman Empire in the wake of the barbarian invasions. Just how volatile the Christian tradition could be, the Enlightenment eventually revealed.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Christianity, European Enlightenment
Academic Unit: St Patrick's College, Maynooth > Faculty of Theology
Item ID: 641
Depositing User: Martin Henry
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2007
Journal or Publication Title: Irish Theological Quarterly
Publisher: Pontifical University Maynooth
Refereed: Yes

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