The expansion of Christianity
The expansion of Christianity throughout the Mediterranean, ultimately leading to the official Christianization of the Roman Empire in the fourth century CE, brought Christianity into contact with Hellenistic cultures and forced Christian intellectuals to come to terms with Greco-Roman and Jewish beliefs. Among the myriad beliefs and practices that Christians had to deal with during this process of assimilation were the Hermetic magical texts and other pagan traditions of magic and sorcery.Magic continued to occupy an ambivalent position in medieval culture, especially after the introduction into the West of the “secret books” of Arabic science. Thus in 1398 the theology faculty at Paris issued a wholesale condemnation of all forms of magic; yet the condemnation itself seems to be an indication of magic’s appeal to intellectuals. There were even arguments for the legitimacy of some forms of magic.In this essay, address the ways in which Christian intellectuals dealt with magic, from the 4th century to the 14th century.
In your essay, you should coherently summarize the arguments for and against magic and explain why magic, though considered to be dangerous, appealed to many intellectuals. What theological concerns were raised about the practice of magic? Be specific regarding the various contexts and places where magic was practiced.You should try to base your essay as much as possible on analysis of relevant primary sources, including (though not necessarily limited to) the Hermetic treatises and texts by Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor, and Thomas Aquinas.