Dating predicaments

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A Christian who meditates deeply on his faith must be concerned with history in some sense and some degree; for Christianity is an historical religion, inescapably tied to the events of Jesus' life – not to particular interpretations of particular moments in it, nor to a particular theological interpretation of the Incarnation or the Atonement – but, as I once heard a schoolmaster put it to his class, when speaking of the events of Christmas, reverently, hut firmly, 'no baby, no Church'.

Christopher Brooke A wider and a deeper interest in other faiths and in comparative religion is one of the happiest developments of modern scholarship, but my own studies have their centre in the Christian Church.

Religious history is not an entity, utterly distinct from secular or social or political or economic or intellectual history.

There are no watertight compartments in the study of the past.

Serious advance in historical science in the seventeenth century involved the application of scepticism – commonly by deeply religious, fervent Christians – to current credulity and superstition.

Thus Southey, in his Book of the Church (1824), declared that his intention was to dispel 'heathenish delusions' and 'the errors and crimes of the Romish Church', and to illustrate 'the day-break of the Reformation'.The religious historian will do an inferior job if he has not at least an inkling of many other specialisms.As historians, we live in a large and ample room – in which we meet people of every race and colour and religious and political creed.This is one of the greatest challenges a modern academic has to face – and most of us face it most of the time so successfully that our students think us cynics, and judge our disciplines to be irrelevant.I am myself a medievalist and have spent much time in recent years studying the history of marriage.

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