Liberty, Dominion and the Two Swords: On the Origins of Western Political Theology (180-398)

By McGowan, Andrew | Anglican Theological Review, Spring 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Liberty, Dominion and the Two Swords: On the Origins of Western Political Theology (180-398)


McGowan, Andrew, Anglican Theological Review


Liberty, Dominion and the Two Swords: On the Origins of Western Political Theology (180-398). By Lester L. Field, Jr. Publications in Medieval Studies 28. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998. xviii + 542 pp. $95.00 (cloth).

The doctrine of "two swords" is usually understood as a medieval notion of political dualism with patristic roots, specifically the enduring interpretation by Pope Gelasius of Luke 22:38. The most obvious aim of this complex book is to present earlier Christian formulations which emphasize the liberty and autonomy of the Christian Church, particularly in terms of the image of the sword-hence a book whose scope does not extend beyond the fourth century, appearing in a leading medieval studies series.

Yet Lester Field's discussion is hardly narrow in chronological terms, moving from the second-century emergence of a Latin Christian literature to the letters of Pope Siricius, constructing an over-arching vision from various authors and events. The structure is somewhat telescoped, the thirteen chapters arranged in three parts: the first and shortest part ("The Church of the Martyrs") covers the period 180-312 and the earliest Latin Christian references to the language of "the sword," notably but not exclusively in North Africa. Part IT ("The `Constantinian Revolution' (312-374)") moves from religious freedom under Constantine and his successors to focused explorations of Donatism and the figures of Lucifer of Cagliari and Hilary of Poitiers. Last, "The Age of Ambrose" devotes four chapters to the shorter period 374-398.

Much of interest comes along the way. From intriguing niceties such as the correlation between these issues and the greater western acceptance of the dualistic Revelation to John (pp. 140-141), to startling connections between Arian or Nicene Christologies and the politics they supported (e.g., Eudoxius of Constantinople, p. 165), Field shows a deft touch with a large and complex array of evidence.

This scope and learning comes at some cost to the prospective reader. Based on a dissertation, the study is somewhat unusual in form itself. About half of the well over five hundred pages are notes and bibliography. Field usually avoids dealing with historical niceties in the text itself-specific judgments upon which his synthesis depends are usually consigned to the copious notes. The recurring exceptions (e.g., a discussion of imperial coinage, pp. 83-7) are curious and sometimes jarring. Field tends to efface not only his own authorial voice, but also those of the ancient personalities and their opponents; engagement with contemporary scholarship is implied rather than stated.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Liberty, Dominion and the Two Swords: On the Origins of Western Political Theology (180-398)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.