Apocalyptic insiders? Identity and heresy in early medieval Iberia and Francia

James T. Palmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Apocalyptic traditions supplied a conceptual repertoire that was used by writers in the early Middle Ages to delineate different senses of Christian identity. In particular, fear of heresy was an important catalyst for thinking about religious communities in apocalyptic terms, as writers sought to identify their community or views with the elect within the Church. In this paper, three case studies are examined: the Adoptionist Controversy in the eighth century, the case of the Córdoban martyrs in the mid-ninth century, and the so-called Chronica Prophetica of 883. These highlight different apocalyptic dynamics, as Christian writers in Iberia and Francia argued for their particular views on religious orthodoxy against other Christians, while engaged with perceived challenges from Islam – all while believing that any corruption to orthodoxy opened the way for Antichrist. The cases remind us that, however we might want to generalise about a “Western apocalyptic tradition”, the success of apocalyptic ideas often lay in their flexibility to be useful in response to a variety of situations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultures of Eschatology
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1: Empires and Scriptural Authorities in Medieval Christian, Islamic and Buddhist Communities
EditorsVeronika Wieser, Vincent Eltschinger, Johann Heiss
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783110597745
ISBN (Print)9783110690316
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameCultural History of Apocalyptic Thought
PublisherDe Gruyter Oldenbourg


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