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The Making of the Medieval Middle East$
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Jack Tannous

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179094

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179094.001.0001

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The Simple and the Learned

The Simple and the Learned

(p.46) Chapter 2 The Simple and the Learned
The Making of the Medieval Middle East

Jack Tannous

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the notion of simplicity and of the simple believer, which had a complex history—both Christian and non-Christian—and was in use long before the Council of Chalcedon. In the first centuries of Christian history, pagans attacked Christians for being simple, uneducated, and credulous, but Christians themselves would also acknowledge their simplicity and take pride in the triumph of the Christian message over the wisdom of the world. Stories were told suggesting that a Christian with simple faith could defeat and convert even learned philosophers skilled in debate. Indeed, labeling someone “simple” could also be a polemical tool, and the notion of the simple believer played an important role in the language Christian leaders used to discuss teachings they opposed; accusing adversaries of leading the simple astray was a well-worn tactic.

Keywords:   simplicity, simple believer, Christian history, Christians, Christian message, simple faith, Christian leaders, learned philosophers

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