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The Birth of Modern Belief$
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Ethan H. Shagan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174747

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174747.001.0001

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Medieval Varieties of Believing

Medieval Varieties of Believing

(p.31) Chapter One Medieval Varieties of Believing
The Birth of Modern Belief

Ethan H. Shagan

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses how, for medieval Christians, belief was a way of negotiating this characteristic predicament of a religion that posits an utterly transcendent deity but then desires to know him. Belief mitigated the potential hubris that adhered in every attempt to approach God, not only because it was biblically sanctioned—all who believe are saved—but because it was amphibious, a kind of knowledge-claim without implying knowledge. Belief was an ordinary human operation, and yet, when sanctified, belief might reach all the way to heaven. As a concept with one foot in epistemology and another foot in saving faith, belief was ideally positioned to address the dilemma of how finite creatures might approach an infinite creator.

Keywords:   belief, medieval Christians, religion, God, deity, epistemology, faith, infinite creator

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