N.B.: Use these questions when preparing your weekly reading
and writing the short exercise for the class. You may find yourself focusing
on certain problem(s); this is good. Explore these questions consistently
in your reading of the sources so that you may write up your analyses
in your term paper and final.
What are the attractions of Christianity? What did salvation mean to the peoples of late antiquity and the early middle ages? If you were living Augustines time, what problems would you be facing that might make Christianity attractive or repugnant?
After the conversion of Constantine (and the legislation of Theodosius), Christianity becomes the religion of the eastern and western empires---pagan practices are outlawed, through they do indeed continue. The problem then becomes conversion. What does it mean to be an authentic Christian? Need one be a monk? Or to what extent can one make accommodations with the world?
In our sources, note how one finds regional variations in Christian practices. What of pre-existent pagan rituals and practices can be absorbed into Christianity? Christianity is not monolithic, but there are limits. What are they?
How does belief in immortality change one's behavior and attitude toward life in the world?
Watch the growth of guilt and conscience and the definition of sin. What forces determine moral standards? To what extent is conscience and guilt an issue in conversion and religious faith?
Pay close attention to issues of free will and the possibility of effective human action in the world. Use Augustine as a baseline. To what extent do you find medieval writers accepting or modifying his bleak prognostications about the human condition? What do you think accounts for the changes you see?
What purpose does a church serve? Do Christians need one?
What are the advantages and disadvantages a church offers? What happens
if people don't have a church?
What is the holy? What can the holy man or woman accomplish? What are the signs of the holy?
How does the definition of the saint change or remain constant
as we move through time? What factors are changing this definition?
What is a miracle? How does the definition of a miracle
change through time? What do the changes suggest?
Is faith opposed to the rational? What is the significance of a yes or no answer?
What conditions in medieval Europe posed the greatest danger
to the church? Why? What strategies seemed most productive or least productive
for solving problems?
How important is the individual versus the community in the medieval church? Why? What pressures push the church to develop in one way or another?
Have you heard of the expression, "The Medieval Vision"? If so, what do you think is meant by it?
Watch the conscious and unconscious connections writers
reveal in their works. What do these associations reveal to you?
What is role does the church play with respect to families, marriage, kin and kingship, inheritance?
What patterns and problems of the medieval church do you
see existing today?