Monday, February 16, 2009

Another review

It has just come to my attention that the History of the Low Countries has been reviewed in European History Quarterly 39 (2009), pp. 119-120, by somebody called Johannes Koll. Hurrah! A notice! Now to find out what it says ...


barblaster said...

So, what did the review make of the history of the low countries?

Paul said...

For some reason your comment appeared on the blog without any notification appearing on the "editor" pages, which is why I haven't replied sooner. Sorry about that.

The review begins "It is quite a challenge for one scholar to present the history of three European countries over
more than 2000 years in 241 pages of a single book, but Paul Arblaster measures up to it." Which is nice.

J.R.Shirley said...

...though your caveat at the beginning regarding the lack of footnotes was certainly well-founded! I personally found A History useful in general, but frustrating because your thought processes were not always transparent. When you shared the reasons that led to your conclusions, they seemed to make sense.

I did question what you meant by "Christ’s unique sacrifice on the cross."* I am not certain whether you meant a messianic figure in general, voluntary sacrifice, or representative instead of actual killing.

*you were speaking on page 33 of the replacement of sacrifice with the Mass.



Paul said...

Thanks for the comment. I remember a teacher in school describing my essays as "Interesting but oblique" - obviously it's something I still have to work on.

About your specific question, in Christian doctrine, Christ's death is a sufficient and full sacrifice, making any other sacrifices superfluous (hence: unique). With the conversions, the Mass, a memorial (for want of a better word) of that single sacrifice, replaced (multiple) pagan sacrifices as the centre of the formal religious life of the people.

J.R.Shirley said...

Thanks for the clarification. I would question whether transubstantiation makes the ceremony more significant than just a memorial, but I believe this doctrine gained widespread acceptance around three hundred years after the period to which you were referring.

Would it be accurate to say your most consistent theme throughout The Low Countries is the effect of the Christian religion on Dutch culture, politics, and life?

Paul said...

The Mass is certainly not just a memorial, but it functions to remember and re-enact (again, I'm struggling for the right words) a single sacrifice.

Transubstantiation is a later attempt to cast the belief into philosophical language, but the belief that the Eucharist made Christ present (body and blood, soul and divinity) was already well established. The 8th-century Whitby Life of St Gregory, for instance, has this story about the woman who baked the bread for Mass:

"And when she came to communicate from the hand of the man of God and hearing him say, The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul, she smiled. Which, the man of the Lord seeing, he closed his hand over her mouth and, not wishing to give her the holy body of the Lord, placed it on the altar ... The Mass having been completed, calling her, he asked why she had smiled when she ought to have communicated. She replied, saying, That very bread I made with my own hands, and you said of it that it was the body of the Lord.

"In order to undo her incredulity he prayed, then showed her the bread which he had placed upon the altar, which was bleeding, ... and, after the entire congregation had prayed for her faith, he communicated her."

Your question is thought-provoking. The short answer is "not consciously" - but I think I'll make a separate post about it.