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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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Power in Heaven and on Earth

Power in Heaven and on Earth

(p.134) Chapter 5 Power in Heaven and on Earth
The Making of the Medieval Middle East

Jack Tannous

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at the most powerful tool for community formation that Christian leaders had at their disposal: the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist. The sacraments united the simple and the learned alike. In the world of simple believers, the Eucharist was much more than a mystery one took at church, and baptism was much more than a rite of Christian initiation. Seeing the enormous power ascribed to these things and others provides a better understanding of why they could help produce the sort of confessional indifference among the simple that so exercised church leaders like Jacob of Edessa. Moreover, considering the extra-ecclesial life of the sacraments will help illustrate why controlling them might prove fundamental to forming a communal vessel that did not have leaks and why controlling them was ultimately more powerful than any dialectical argument.

Keywords:   community formation, Christian leaders, sacraments, Eucharist, simple believers, Christians, confessional indifference

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