Monday, January 29, 2018
Here, thanks to the University Bookman site, is William Borman's review of Andrew Willard Jones's book, Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX. Fascinating stuff. A bit:
The thesis of Jones’s book is simple: everything that we thought we knew about the Middle Ages is fundamentally mistaken, and the study of the Middle Ages in modern times has frequently, indeed almost always, amounted to the study of modern preconceptions and prejudices about the past. . . . The main obstacle to our understanding of the medieval world, indeed, appears to be our understanding of our own world, and our routine application of modern conceptions to a past in which they do not belong. We have ignored or discarded the concepts proper to our area of study. Instead of looking at the microbe through the microscope, we have effectively been studying the lens.
Many examples of Jones’s thesis are provided, with much detail. Here are a few: “secularism” did not exist; the distinction between “temporal” and “spiritual,” or between “church” and “state,” did not exist; peace in temporal matters was peace in spiritual matters, and vice versa; the “state” itself did not exist, nor did “sovereignty,” nor “law”; “violence” is not a necessary characteristic of society but a disrupter of it, for society is peace; and governance is not determined, as Weber thought, by a “monopoly on force.” . . .
Check it out.