Recent Reading: The Barbarian Conversion (still)

The Barbarian Conversion, by Richard Fletcher. Yup, I’m still on this. It’s such a huge and rich collection of tidbits of medieval history that I can’t absorb it all at one go; instead I’ve relegated it to background reading, taking in pieces of history at a time to occupy me between books. Right now I’m deep in the chapter on “Christian Consolidation,” about how the spreading church adapted its message and media to make the faith more palatable and more intelligible to the barbarian-descended cultures of medieval Europe.

Some notes of interest: St. Martin of Braga vigorously opposed the naming of days for Germanic pagan deities: Tiw’s Day, Woden’s Day, Thunor’s Day, and Frig’s Day — one possible reason that the modern Portuguese week simply counts days off from one to seven. And the Heliand is fascinating: an epic poem retelling the Bible as a Germanic saga, transforming church-speak into rephrased Saxon. For example, “Lord, teach us to pray” was interpreted as “reveal to us the runes.” And we thought the TNIV was bad.