The Christian Travelers Guide to Italyby Irving Hexham, David Bershad, Caroline Mangone
The Christian Travelers Guides deal directly with what even the best general travel guides only touch on: Christianity’s enormous influence on Europeand, through its history and culture, Europe’s influence on Christianity. This unique series guides you on a pilgrimage to the heart of our Christian heritage. Saints and secularists, martyrs and… See more details below
The Christian Travelers Guides deal directly with what even the best general travel guides only touch on: Christianity’s enormous influence on Europeand, through its history and culture, Europe’s influence on Christianity. This unique series guides you on a pilgrimage to the heart of our Christian heritage. Saints and secularists, martyrs and kings, castles and cathedrals, public squares and rolling hillsides, great works of art, literature, and architecture: The legacy of the Christian faith takes on immediacy and impact as you see firsthand the places where believers through the centuries lived and died, shaping our world with their faith. In rich detail and depth, The Christian Travelers Guide to Italy describes the history, literature, music, art, and architecture of Italy. Nearly 50 Christian Heritage Sites, with fascinating information on different places to visit List of "Top 10 Christian Sites in Italy" Insights for enjoying your visits to Italian churches and cathedrals Sidebars featuring mini-biographies of key historical figures and short essays on great works of art Glossary of religious terms Access The Christian Travelers Guides Website at http://www.christian-travelers-guides.com
Read an Excerpt
Preface Remember how the LORD your God led you. Deuteronomy 8:2
The task of history . . . is to establish the truth of this world. Karl Marx (1955:42)
Memories of paintings, sculptures, museums, churches last a lifetime. Edith Schaeffer---The Tapestry
Our series of books is designed to awaken an awareness of Europe's Christian heritage among evangelical Christians, although we hope all Christians and others who are simply interested in Christianity will also find them helpful. Anyone visiting a large bookstore will quickly discover that it is possible to buy travel guides with titles like Pagan Europe, Occult France, Magical Britain, and The Traveler's Guide to Jewish Germany, alongside more traditional travel guides which attempt to take in everything worth seeing. Yet even books like the Frommer's, Fodor's, and Rough guides, although they mention Christian places and events, tend to underplay the Christian contribution to Western Civilization through neglect or a negative tone. Therefore, our guides have been written to correct what we see as a major oversight in existing works.
Our series is concerned with people and events of historical significance through their association with particular places. Thus we attempt to locate the development of ideas which have changed the world through their relationship with people and places. Consequently, we suggest visits to particular places, because by visiting them you can gain a better understanding of the times when important events took place.
The central theme of these books is the contribution of Christianity to Europe and the world. But not everyone discussed in these books was Christian. Indeed, many of the people we mention were strongly anti-Christian. Such people are included because it is impossible to understand our own times without appreciating the destructive forces that have attempted to replace Christianity by secularism and neopagan religions.
History and Memory
Christianity is rooted in history. The New Testament begins with a genealogical table that most modern readers find almost incomprehensible (Matthew 1:1-- 17). The purpose of this genealogy is to locate the birth of Jesus in space and time according to the standards of Jewish history. The appeal to 'the first eyewitnesses,' in the prologue to the gospel of Luke, is also clearly intended to engage the skepticism of Greco-Roman readers by providing specific historical data against which ancient readers could weigh the writer's claims (Luke 3:1--2). The Gospels contain many references to historical data and specific geographic locations. So important is historical truth that its denial becomes a mark of heresy for New Testament authors (1 Corinthians 15:1--8; 1 John 4:1--3).
Clearly, the Bible is steeped in history and the remembrance of history. Both the Old and New Testaments constantly reminded their readers about particular historical events (cf. Deuteronomy 4:9--14; Acts 7). Thus, parents are commanded to teach their children the significance of history (Deuteronomy 6:4-- 25) both by retelling the story and through commemorations which enact the central acts of salvation (Exodus 13:3--16; 1 Corinthians 11:23--26). Further, an appeal is frequently made to visible memorials that remind people of God's wonderful deeds (Acts 2:29--36). We also find both Jews and early Christians visiting historic sites as acts of devotion (Luke 2:21--41; Acts 21:17--27).
The importance of history, and the way in which we remember past events, is recognized by many influential opponents of Christianity. Karl Marx, for example, argued that the ability to control history, or rather the interpretation of history, was an essential step in the abolition of religion. Almost a century later, Adolf Hitler made a similar appeal to history and historical necessity. Both Marx and Hitler, following in the footsteps of Enlightenment skeptics like Tom Paine, sought to establish the truth of their revolutions by denying the validity of Christian history.
Our books are, we hope, a small contribution to the reestablishment of a sense of history and cultural pride among Christians. Following the biblical model, we believe that visiting places and seeing where great events took place help people remember and understand the present as well as the past (Joshua 4:1--7). It is our hope that these books will bring history alive, and with a sense of history a growing awareness of the realities of faith in our world. As Francis Schaeffer loved to point out, there is a flow to history because Christian faith is rooted in space and time. To forget our history is the first step to the abandonment of our faith, the triumph of secularism, the ascendancy of New Age spirituality, and the rebirth of paganism.
Seeking Spiritual Roots
The great truth of the New Testament is that Christians are children of God by adoption. Today many people have forgotten that the New Testament preaches the revolutionary doctrine that our relationship to God is not through physical descent, but by adoption (Romans 8:23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5).
The implications of this doctrine are profound. All Christians are united by bonds of faith and love, not physical relationships (Ephesians 2). Thus, Christianity is not a tribal religion rooted in local communities bound by kinship bonds. Rather, it is a world faith that unites all believers.
Repeatedly, both the Old and New Testaments point to examples of faith which we are encouraged to follow and remember (Joshua 4; Luke 11:29--32; Acts 7; Hebrews 12). Remembering acts of courage and obedience to God strengthens our own faith. This fact was long recognized by the leaders of the church. Throughout history, Christians have told and retold stories of courage and faith. Yet today these stories are all but forgotten. Lives of the saints which were once standard texts for every educated person and pious believer are now rarely read, and books like Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1554) are left unopened.
Today, Christians are quickly forgetting their rich spiritual heritage as Christian biographies are replaced in popular culture by secular gossip. Popular magazines, radio, and television are full of 'lives.' But they are the lives of pop singers, film stars, television personalities, and secular politicians. Instead of teaching spiritual lessons, they repeat trivia and revel in scandal. Something has been lost. And it is this something that can be recaptured by Christians who begin to search for their spiritual roots.
Visiting Italy to learn about great acts of faith can be a rewarding experience, and it is something all Christians, regardless of race or nationality, can find profitable. This spiritual quest helps us see our own lives in perspective and understand our times against a much greater backdrop than tonight's television news. That is the quest this book encourages you to begin.
Christianity in Italy
Christianity spread to Italy following the death and resurrection of Jesus as a sect within Judaism. Large Jewish communities in Italy provided a fertile base for Christian preachers who soon began to make converts among native Italians. Other converts visiting Rome as traders or soldiers assisted in the spread of this new religion, which soon provoked bitter opposition. Persecution quickly followed, and according to tradition Rome was the site of St. Peter's death and the imprisonment of St. Paul, who many believe eventually died in Spain.
Meet the Author
Irving Hexham is professor of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary and adjunct professor of World Christianity at Liverpool Hope University. He has published twenty-seven academic books, including The Concise Dictionary of Religion, Understanding Cults and New Religions, and Religion and Economic Thought, plus eighty major academic articles and chapters in books, numerous popular articles, and book reviews. Recently he completed a report for the United Nations’ refugee agency on religious conflict in Africa and another for the Canadian Government’s Department of Canadian Heritage on Religious Publications in Canada. He is listed in Who’s Who in Canada and various scholarly directories. In 2008, he was honored at the historic Humboldt University in Berlin with a Festschrift, Border Crossings: Explorations of an Interdisciplinary Historian (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag).
David Bershad is professor of art history at the University of Calgary. He received his Ph.D. at UCLA. David has written numerous articles on the people and places in Italy and has received many honors and awards.
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