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Bible Becomes One Basis Of Mediaeval Civilization (800—1150 A. D.)

( Originally Published 1914 )

THE Middle Ages, the dark Middle Ages, that is what we are wont to call the period we now enter in our journey through the centuries. Scholars of the sixteenth century called it so, when they looked back to the classical period, from which they drew all their light and inspiration. The centuries between counted for nothing; they seemed to be barbarous, uneducated; the humanistic scholar would simply drop them out of the world's history. Time passed and men became enthusiastic about the beauties of these Middle Ages. At the beginning of the nineteenth century Europe was enchanted by romanticism. Nothing was fashionable that was not mediæval in art, customs, manners. At present we view these centuries more calmly in the light of their own time; we see what was their defect, and we see at the same time what was their merit. It is true that civilisation had only begun to recover from the shock which the great migrations had given to it. If a chronicler thinks it worth while to mention that the emperor Henry IV was able to read to himself the petitions brought before him, we must infer that the art of reading was not wide-spread, even among the nobility. And the famous poet Wolfram von Eschenbach tells us him-self that he was no friend of this art. On the other hand, I need only remind my readers of the beautiful buildings we still admire at Cologne: the massive old church of Saint Gereon in Romanesque style and the light and airy cathedral, whose Gothic arches and spires reach up toward heaven —to mention only these two well-known examples—in order to make them realise the power and the splendour of this civilisation, which never will cease to impress the human mind. We cannot drop this period from our history; nor can Americans deny that this medieval civilisation is an element even in their modern civilization.

There is an ingenious theory that history always repeats itself : the German migrations corresponded to the migrations of the Greek tribes; the time of chivalry was like the time of Homer's heroes; humanism represents the age of Plato and Aristotle; only the repetition always has the advantage of using the results of the former cycle. But we must not forget that from time to time new forces enter those cycles and change their relation. At the end of the classical period Christianity has come in and now runs as a straight line through the parallel cycles; therefore nothing in this parallelism is quite exact.

It was the Christian church which served to keep the old civilization alive through all troubles and dangers. When classical training had nearly vanished everywhere else, it was found in some remote monasteries. Esteem of good style, love of ancient poetry, some chance bits of philosophy had safely weathered the storm. But it was only in combination with the Bible that those remains of classical reading were allowed to persist. The mediaeval civilisation was Biblical at its base.

Saint Jerome, who was a great admirer of classical eloquence but a stern defender of pure Christianity, tells in a friendly letter to a certain lady a sad experience of his own. He had read much of Vergil and Cicero and other pagan books, when one night he found himself suddenly summoned be-fore the heavenly judge. "Who are you?" he was questioned. "I am a Christian," he replied. "Thou liest, thou art a Ciceronian," was the judge's answer. And forthwith he was given over to cruel constables, who beat him frightfully until he promised never to touch a pagan book again. When he awoke in the morning he still felt the blows. The story is mere fancy, and Saint Jerome never proves so guilty of imitating his adored classical models as in this very letter. He was an actor who knew how to pose. But by this letter he has caused plenty of people in later time to dream over again the frightful experience he describes so suggestively. Dozens of monks and nuns have felt blows struck upon them by invisible hands for having given themselves too much to the seduction of reading classical books instead of the Bible. Again and again the leaders of monastic institutions had to insist upon the rule that the Bible must be read and no pagan books. Hrotswitha of Gandersheim, the nun who celebrated the great acts of the emperor Otto I, wrote some Biblical comedies, in order to prevent the nuns from enjoying the comedies of Plautus and Terence.

On the other hand, all the great fathers of the church insisted upon classical training; so did Saint Jerome himself and Saint Augustine, not to speak of the great classical scholars in Christian bishoprics in the East (Plate XII). And even in the later Centuries, when classical civilisation had gone and was only kept up artificially by assiduous reading, it was the church which maintained the right and the necessity of a classical training for its clergy. Alcuin was proud of the classical training he had had at home, at the famous monastic school of York under the direction of Abbot 'Elbert. He enjoyed finding kernels of truth in the writings of the heathen, and he pointed out that Saint Paul had done the same. There was a time when there was no reading at all outside the clergy and the monasteries, but this reading was a combination of classical and Biblical. That is the great merit of the mediæval church.

Mediæval civilization had various foundations, but the Bible was one of them, and the most important one. That is what we find wherever we try to analyse mediæval culture.

What was the aspect of the world at this period? The world seemed to be an edifice of three floors. Above was the heaven, a compact dome, in which the stars were fixed, while the planets moved in their own sphere; over the sky was the space where God or, let us say, according to the usual expression of that time, the holy Trinity dwells, surrounded and adored by millions upon millions of angels, who keep heaven and earth in continuous communication. Besides, the heaven can be rent asunder; then the angels look down to earth, and from time to time a pious man is allowed to enter and see the heavenly mysteries and the glory of the saints. The earth, the abode of man, is a large round plane; its centre Jerusalem, where, at the same place, Adam was buried and Christ was crucified, so that the blood of the Saviour dropping down reached Adam's skull. The earth was surrounded by the ocean. At its boundaries all kinds of strange beings—men with dogs' faces, giants, pygmies—were to be found. There was still an earthly paradise—not to be con-founded with the paradise in heaven, the goal of human longing. This earthly paradise was unknown and inaccessible to the greater part of men, but from time to time a pious hermit or a favourite of fortune reached it; the lucky man on his return had exciting stories to tell about the wealth and the bliss of this paradise, but he never could find the way again. I have read an accurate description of the way from paradise to Rome, giving the exact number of days and months, but there was nothing said about how to come from Rome to paradise!

Below the earth was the great dark cellar called hell; here the devil was at home with his companions. But these demons did not like their abode; they preferred to roam the earth and play jokes on men and women. As the angels from above were kind and helpful to man, so the devils were cunning and malicious. But many a time the devil showed himself stupid; a clever boy might easily cheat him. The devil's aim was to capture the frivolous and to seduce the pious in order to bring them all into hell. Here the various categories of sinners had their separate compartments, where they were punished according to the varying nature of their sins. Mediaeval writers describe these various tortures, and they know more about the geography of hell than they usually know about the geography of the earth.

Now, according to the view of that time this is all Biblical. A modern reader would find difficulties in looking for it in his Bible; but he will recognise some of the motives as clearly Biblical. Further investigation will show him that other notions are brought in from the late classical philosophy, and finally he will discover a large amount of folk-lore, German folk-lore. All this mingled together made a very curious combination, and the most curious point was that this combination was regarded as Biblical. It was upon the authority of the Bible that the church accepted this whole view of the world and put it before the people, judging all doubts and divergences from its teaching as in-tolerable heresy. It is this naïve way of reading between the lines, this allegorical method of making the Bible say what it does not say, which we have already found in the Greek fathers of the fourth century when, in commenting upon the hexaëmeron, the six days' work of creation, they introduced whatever they had read about the world and nature in the works of Plato and Aristotle. In the time of which we are speaking these great Greek philosophers were known only indirectly, but nevertheless they exercised much influence through later imitators. Boëthius was the one great authority of this time, besides the Bible.

The Bible's influence is still more evident if we turn to the mediæval view of history. What was history? People at this time had few notions about what was happening in the world; there were no means of communication, nor had they a conception of history as a coherent series of events in which each link is the effect of what precedes as well as the cause of what comes after. They simply registered the facts which chance made known to them. The chronicle is the form of record which prevails at this period. There was no history of the world; what passed for such was the history of the Jewish people as given in the Bible and the history of the Christian church as recorded by certain chronicles. Both together made up the history of mankind. The first part, the history of the Old Testament, was not regarded as the history of the Jews, but as the history of the people of God; it was the history of our fathers the patriarchs, the history of the first covenant finding its direct continuation in the history of the new covenant and the Christian church. There was only a very slight conception of chronology; everything was arranged according to the system of a week, the duration of the present world corresponding to one week, whose days, according to the 90th Psalm, each counted a thousand years. The world was not expected to endure beyond six thousand years, the seventh day being reserved for the millennium. Into this history of the world a few fragments of Greek and Roman history found their way by means of an odd synchronism: David was said to have been a contemporary of the Trojan War, and a correspondence was in-vented between the king of Troy and the king of Israel, in which the latter excuses himself for not coming to join the Trojan army. It was in the beginning of the twelfth century that a famous professor of the university of Paris called Petrus Comestor wrote his Historia Scholastica, which for all the Middle Ages served as the text-book of Biblical history.

But, like the mediæval aspect of the world, so the history of the world was not purely Biblical. The Bible always had to suffer the strong rivalry of apocryphal and legendary fiction. Already the Jews had invented a life of Adam, full of miraculous events, which appealed to the taste of the average man much more than the simple and severe story of the Bible itself; the lives of Abraham, of Moses, of Solomon were enriched in the same way. Christianity continued this kind of fancy. The story of the holy root was traced back into paradise; it was a branch from the tree of life, given to Adam's son Seth and planted by him on his father's tomb. It had been used as a bridge over the Kidron until the queen of Sheba arrived at Jerusalem. Being a prophetess, she worshipped this holy root; consequently Solomon tried to use it in his temple, but the carpenter did not succeed in cutting it to the necessary length; therefore it lay unused, "rejected by the builders," until the time came when a tree was wanted to crucify Jesus; so Jesus died—on the cross which was the tree of life —a splendid symbolism, indeed, but set forth in a strange legend. Or they investigated the earlier history of the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas Iscariot as the reward for the betrayal of his master, tracing the money back as far as Abraham. The life of Christ was surrounded by apocryphal legends of all kinds: the story of his birth and of his childhood; his stay in Egypt; how in their flight lions and all kinds of wild beasts accompanied the holy family; how a palm-tree bowed down before them in order to provide them with its fruits; how at Jesus' arrival in Egypt all the idols of the Egyptians fell down; how he helped his father Joseph in his carpenter shop; and so on. Again the miracles at his death, the descent to hell, the resurrection and ascension, everything was covered with an abundance of miraculous narratives, partly enlargements, developments of the canonical accounts, partly mere fiction. In addition to this apocryphal life of Jesus there is the life of the Virgin, giving a most curious description of her birth and childhood and again of her death, making every detail parallel to the life of Christ himself and yet keeping hers subordinate. The mediaeval life of Christ begins—one may say—with the birth of Mary (or with the story of her parents, Joachim and Anna) and ends with the death and assumption of Mary. The history of the apostles as read in this period is nearly all apocryphal except the few data taken from the canonical book of Acts. Then the history of Christianity is continued as the history of the church according to the scheme of Saint Augustine's De civitate dei (the City of God) : the church is the city of God and beside it is the city of this age, the kingdom of this world, the one spiritual, the other secular, with two parallel lines of development. This is best shown by the mural decoration in Charlemagne's palace at Ingelheim on the Rhine, where two series of pictures, one giving the Biblical history according to the Old and New Testaments, the other tracing the profane history from Ninus, king of Babylon, down to Charlemagne himself, were painted on opposite walls. That is the mediæval view of history. We may add that, according to this view, history begins in heaven when the holy Trinity conceives the idea of creation, and ends in heaven at the last judgment. Our view of history is a different one, but we cannot help agreeing that this is a magnificent conception and that it is Biblical, too, in its main points.

It is partly built upon the Apocrypha, of course. Regarding these Apocrypha the attitude of the church changed a good deal during our period. The early view is set forth in several utterances from the Roman bishops of the fifth and sixth centuries, and is represented in its sharpest form in the so-called decree of Pope Gelasius, which condemns all Apocrypha as heretical writings totally to be rejected and detested and not to be used in any way by a Catholic Christian. We found this Puritan view prevailing in Charlemagne's Libri Carolini. It is predominant among the theologians of the Carolingian time. They scarcely use apocryphal books, and when they do they always refer to them as to doubtful books devoid of all authority. But gradually the Apocrypha came into favour; they are used freely alongside the canonical books. They are very much of the same kind as the legends of the saints; and those legends of the saints are favoured by the people, too. At last, in the thirteenth century, even theologians do not distinguish between canonical and apocryphal books. They quote the Gospel of Nicodemus alongside the Gospel of Matthew or of John; they call it the fifth Gospel and have it copied in their Bible manuscripts. So they have a letter from Saint Paul to the Laodiceans and other Apocrypha inserted in or attached to the Bible. And the common people were fond of these Apocrypha and delighted to hear the preacher quote them because the bizarre miracles appealed to their taste.

There was almost no science, no medicine in this time; the world seemed to be full of miracles having no rational connection with one another. There was no causality, no law of nature. This was exactly the same view that we have in most parts of the Bible. Therefore people did not feel any difficulty in identifying their own notions about miracle and nature with the Biblical ones. Nay, we may say that many of the legendary miracle stories are copied after Biblical patterns. Even the wording is often modelled according to Biblical phraseology. "Healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness," from Matt. 9 35, is repeated in many a saint's life.

Bible history in the embellished form which we have just now observed inspired mediæval art. In the first place, there were the inner walls of the churches, usually painted from top to bottom. If we remember that a Romanesque church had only very small windows, we understand what a large space was given to painting. Pictures are the text-book for those who cannot read; so Pope Gregory the Great had said, and this dictum was repeated many a time. It is true, of course. These plain mural paintings, awkward as they often are, make a greater impression on a simple mind than even the best written account could produce. The art is nothing but illustration; the painter tries to bring before the people who view his work the main features of the Biblical text. One must, indeed, know the text in order to understand the pictures. Sometimes the spectator is helped by additional inscriptions. To the illiterates these may be read and explained by the priest; and then even the simplest peasant will understand and always remember the story. Some churches were decorated in this way twice or even oftener, the first painting being covered with lime and whitewashed and then another painting being put upon it, according to the style of the later time. Here, again, we see the Biblical history, pure and plain at the beginning, but by and by combined with motives taken from the apocryphal sources and the lives of the saints. At the annunciation the angel meets the Virgin Mary at a well; it is to his mother Mary that the risen Christ appears before he reveals himself to his disciples.

In the Gothic period sculpture is more favoured, the walls being broken up into groups of columns and large windows. This arrangement lent itself more to the representation of individual figures of saints; but even so Biblical personalities, and some-times even Biblical scenes, were chosen, and the large windows, with their stained glass, offered an-other possibility for decoration based on Bible stories. Besides, the whole building is directed by a scheme of Biblical symbolism difficult for us to understand but dear to the men of that period. They loved symbolism. The cult of the Virgin Mary was surrounded by it. She was the queen of heaven, she was paradise, she was the tower, she was the unicorn, she was the well, and so on, and all these symbols were taken from or related to the Bible.

The growing wealth and the higher standard of civilisation created a new demand for illuminated manuscripts. The artists of this period did not follow the classical scheme of filling the lower margin with representations in water-colour; they put little pictures, framed like those on the walls, into the text itself, or they decorated the initials of each book or chapter (Plate XIII). In turning over the pages we admire the skill of these artists, their simplicity, and sometimes their sense of humour. We seldom recognise what an amount of reading and interpretation of the Bible is contained in these little pictures; and how, on the other hand, they helped and stimulated Bible reading. We are told of King Charles V of France (1364-80), that he read the Bible all through once a year during his reign. This means a period of sixteen years. We are quite sure that he had a beautifully illuminated copy, and we may assume that the pictures helped him in performing this religious exercise.

The art of painting is often accompanied by the art of making verses, as I would rather call this medieval poesy. And again it is the Bible or, to speak more accurately, the Biblical history which finds its expression in this art. Besides the inscriptions added to the pictures and often given in versified form, there are a number of rhymed Bibles, as these versifications of the Biblical history are called. There are short verses giving the content of each book or chapter of the Bible for mnemonic purposes. There are some real poems, too, dealing with Biblical subjects.

The Bible and mediaeval art brings before us an-other feature of civilisation, which is important, indeed, in our own time and which one would scarcely think of as originating with the Bible. I mean the theatre. The old classical drama and comedy had entirely died out. Plautus and Terence were read in the monasteries, not played, and so were the Biblical comedies by Hrotswitha, of which we have spoken, intended to be read only, not played. There was nothing but jugglers, jesters, and dancers. On festival days people amused themselves by frivolous masquerades, which were looked upon by the church authorities with suspicion and contempt as survivals of heathen rites and therefore to be frowned upon and abolished. Things took quite a different turn when some of the clergy began at Christmas and at Easter to present the sacred story in acted form in order to illustrate the lesson. They did it inside the church, directly before the altar. It was nothing but a dialogue, developed out of the lessons from the Scripture, the angel addressing Mary, the shepherds coming to see the child, the three Marys at the tomb and the angel speaking to them, and so on, as simply and plainly as it was told in the Bible and as it was usually painted on the walls of the church. The people took delight in these representations and they were soon enlarged. They had to be removed from the choir to the front of the church, the steps of the entrance forming the stage. Soon more and more persons appeared on the stage; the laity joined the per-formers; the guilds (the trade-unions) undertook the performance of the play, and out of these naïve little representations of the birth of Christ or his passion and resurrection sprang gorgeous miracle-plays which sometimes lasted four days and brought the whole story from the creation to the last judgment before the bewildered eyes of the spectators. Nothing could make the Biblical history so familiar to the people as these plays, in which hundreds took part as performers and thousands attended as on-lookers. There was but little art. They had no scenery; the actors simply moved about in the open space. But it was highly realistic. We are told that they nearly killed the man who was acting Judas Iscariot. It was also amusing. Mediæval piety did not refrain from putting in just before the crucifixion a sarcastic dialogue between the blacksmith, who had to provide the nails, and his wife, ending in a scuffle between them. People liked to see this. It was on account of these undignified scenes, which kept increasing, that the plays were abolished by secular and ecclesiastical authorities in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when through humanism and the Reformation taste and piety had been refined. There are still a few survivals, such as the Passion Play of Oberammergau, which, however, has undergone a thorough change. There is now a revival of these popular plays, but I doubt if it will be successful. Possibly the film will take the place, as it has entered some churches already.

Men nearly always like to travel and the Germans liked it exceedingly well. This tendency received a special direction from the Bible; there were so many sacred sites in Palestine which a Christian wanted to see. So since the fourth century we see many people from the West from Gaul, Spain, later on from Germany and England—travelling to the Holy Land in order to visit all the places connected with the sacred history of the Bible. At the end of the eleventh century the pilgrims suddenly turned into crusaders, sailing by thousands, fighting, settling down for a while, going back again. Then after a period of nearly two centuries of vain struggle for the possession of the Holy Land they changed again into pilgrims. Meanwhile, the Holy Land had changed also, and Christian piety, too.

They were now not so much interested in visiting the sacred sites themselves as in gaining the indulgences which were granted in abundance to the visitors to each of these places. We still possess a long series of descriptions of these pilgrimages, increasing from century to century not only in number but also in size. The pilgrims did not rest until they had fixed upon a certain location in Palestine for every event in the Bible. Sometimes we seem to catch the process of fixation. The hermit or monk who served as guide had just told the company everything he himself knew about the resurrection of Lazarus. Then suddenly some one broke in with the question, "And where was it that Jesus met Martha?" and the poor hermit would be sure to show him a rock or a doorway, of which he had never thought before. They showed the pilgrims the place where Abraham and Melchisedek met, the tomb of Rachel, the monastery of Elijah on Mount Carmel. They would show also the mantle Elijah left to Elisha or the widow's cruse of oil which was always full. At Nazareth one could see the rock from which the citizens tried to throw down Jesus headlong, and one could see on the rock the imprint of his body, which he left there—according to a legendary addition to the story—when passing through the crowd unhurt. On the Mount of Olives was the Chapel of the Ascension. Here the pilgrims could see and worship the footprints made by Jesus when he leaped up toward heaven. Nay, we are told that people used to carry away dust from this place to use for charms, and yet the foot-prints never disappeared. I am giving these examples in order to show how even here sacred history and legend were mixed together. It is obvious, however, from what I have said that the pilgrimages contributed a great deal to make people familiar with the Bible stories; for not only the pilgrims themselves but all their people at home were mightily interested in what they had seen and heard in the Holy Land. We see them build churches representing the Holy Sepulchre. In the later centuries they make calvaries and stations on the way to them, representing the main points on Jesus' way to the cross, on the so-called Via Dolorosa at Jerusalem. There is even (as I have pointed out in my book on Christusbilder) a mutual influence between the pilgrimages and the passion plays, which ac-counts for some changes in the order of scenes and the fixing of places at Jerusalem.

The Bible continued to exercise its influence upon the Law. As King Alfred of England when collecting the laws of his people put the ten commandments at the beginning, so likewise the German collections, Schwabenspiegel, Sachsenspiegel, and so on, have prefaces which present the national law as an emanation from the law of God as contained in the Old and New Testaments. Still more important than these national laws was the so-called canon law, the collection of ecclesiastical canons and decrees of the Roman bishops. It is remarkable that this canon law, while incorporating naturally a good deal of Biblical matter, such as the degrees of relationship within which marriage is forbidden, does not make so much use of Biblical authority as one might expect. The decrees of the popes, it is true, usually begin with a quotation from the Bible, but that is more for the sake of appearances. The fact that the law of the church, in spite of all references to the Bible, was derived essentially from other sources, and that the study and the knowledge of this law were appreciated as the most important attainment of a bishop or even a clergyman, is very striking.

We have already noted the influence which the Bible exerted upon social and commercial life. The German notion of the king as representative of the nation was easily combined with the theocratic theory of the Old Testament. David's court, with his mighty men (II Sam. 23), furnished a good example for any royal court of this period.

Feudalism seemed to agree with the stories of the patriarchs, as when Abraham led forth his trained men, three hundred and eighteen in number, and pursued the invaders who had taken captive his brother's son Lot. Bondage, serfdom, even slavery, seemed to be sanctioned by the Bible. The church did not object to slavery provided the Christian faith of the slave was respected; he was never to be sold to a Jew or a pagan. The opposition against slavery in the Middle Ages came from the monasteries. Here the ancient Stoic doctrine that all men are equal and no man is to be treated as a brute animal had been combined with the Christian view of brotherhood that all are children of God, and with the doctrine of the simple life. But this theory, championed by the monasteries, spread only slowly. It did not put an end to slavery in the northern countries of Europe before the thirteenth century. In the eastern and southern countries, where Christianity bordered on Mohammedanism, slavery did not die out before the sixteenth century, and bond-age remained everywhere until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Bible defined the position of the Jews, who as murderers of Jesus were thought of as living under the divine punishment. Whatever happened to them was regarded as a penalty due to the crime of their fathers. So they were exposed to all kinds of insults if they were not protected by the king, whose personal serfs they were held to be. A large part of this general hatred of the Jews was due to the fact that they were making money out of their trade and their medical science, being allowed by their own law to take usury from the Christians. The law of Moses (in Deut. 23 : 20) expressly says that a Jew may lend upon usury to a foreigner, while he is forbidden to do so dealing with a brother. Now, as we have already seen, the Christian church adopted this law as forbidding the Christians to lend at interest. The fatal result was that trade on the basis of credit was made almost impossible, and that the Jew was the only one who could lend money at interest. As he abused this opportunity by taking enormous usury, it became evident that the one remedy to be used from time to time was to take away from him by force all the money he had made, thus restoring it to its proper source. The Jew might be thankful if he got off with his life. Among the many accusations brought against the Jews on such occasions, one of the most effective was the indictment that they had falsified their Bibles, putting in curses against the Christians, or that they had insulted and destroyed Christian Bibles. The criminal charge of falsifying the holy Scriptures had been raised against many heretics, too, and in most cases had been proved to be untrue. It could be retorted that the Christian church itself, during the first centuries, had "improved" the Psalter in many a place by slight Christian interpolations. Destroying books by fire was at this time one of the most common means used by the church in fighting Jews and heretics, and vice versa. The Bible recorded not only the burning of the magical books at Ephesus but also the burning of the holy Scriptures by Antiochus Epiphanes. So this also was "Bible tradition."

To sum up our survey of mediæval civilisation we find the Bible recognised as one, if not as the one, foundation. Its influence was to be seen in every department: the view of the world, the view of history, arts and sciences, social life and commerce. It was to the Bible that people referred, even if the thing had not been deduced from the Bible; they made it appear Biblical, though it was not so in itself, because they felt that it had to be Biblical if it was to be recognised as an integral part of Christian civilisation. That is what makes it so difficult for us to define the real influence of the Bible, there is so much artificial Biblicality.

The Bible was the leading norm, and it was recognised as such. Never had the Bible had a higher estimation or a more undisputed influence.

And yet the real influence of the Bible was a limited one. It had not only to face the rivalry of the classics on one side but of the Apocrypha, legends, ecclesiastical traditions on the other. Its real influence was mostly indirect. Biblical ideas had been incorporated into the works on the world and nature; Biblical history had been used for the text-books of history, and now these books came to be substitutes for the Bible. All read the Historia Scholastica of Peter Comestor; very few read the Bible. And those few again read mostly the historical parts of the Bible without caring for the books of the prophets and the letters of the apostles. A wide-spread substitute for the Bible was the so-called Biblia Historialis, which gave the Biblical history in a convenient not to say entertaining and even amusing form. Another well-known substitute was the so-called Biblia Pauperum (" Bible of the poor)," showing the most important features of the life of Christ, together with typical scenes from the Old Testament and some verses from the Bible. By means of all these substitutes the people became very familiar with Biblical history, but they knew nothing about doctrines. Theologians, of course, did, but their eyes were blinded by the tradition of the church, the doctrine of the fathers. They interpreted the Bible according to tradition. That is the great demerit of this age; the people had free access to the Bible, but the Bible became alien to them by reason of its many substitutes and its successful rivals. The reaction against this will furnish the subject for our next chapter.



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