Chosen Peoples and the Universal Church in the early Middle Ages

Ecclesiastical History Society

You do not have to delve very far into the historiography of early medieval Christianity to start finding statements that such and such an author thought their people had been selected by God as a new Israel or chosen people. This idea is particularly common in discussions of the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons, but you also find it said on occasion about the Irish, Britons, Visigoths and others. I first came across it when working on Bede, whose Ecclesiastical History of the English People, according to an influential line of interpretation, presented the Anglo-Saxons as a new chosen people. But this made no sense to me.

My research was on Bede’s vast corpus of theology, most of it scriptural commentary, and in that there was absolutely no evidence for such an outlook. In fact, Bede constantly hammered home the point that all peoples spread throughout the world had been…

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