God wills it? A comparison of Greek and Latin theologies of warfare during the Medieval period.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The history of the Church’s participation in, and attitudes towards warfare have been well-documented in several fields of research. The development of the doctrine of just war and the medieval crusades within Western Christianity, have been the subject of a considerable amount of scholarship. There has also recently been an increasing amount of research done by historians, theologians and political theorists comparing the status of warfare within the Christian and Islamic traditions. However, the current state of the historiography is focused almost entirely on Western Christianity, and does not address in any depth the attitudes toward warfare present in Eastern Christianity within the Byzantine Empire in the Middle Ages. This thesis seeks to address this historiographical imbalance by comparing the development of the Eastern and Western Church’s positions on warfare throughout the medieval period. The thesis examines the factors that led to the divergence of the two Churches’ attitudes towards warfare, and the development and impact of their differing theologies during the medieval period. It is argued that the fundamental point of divergence between the Eastern and Western Church’s attitude to warfare is linguistic and theological in nature. The linguistic differences between the Greek and Latin Churches, led to different theological interpretive frameworks regarding the subject of warfare. These different fundamental theological assumptions would lead the two Churches down different developmental paths and would prevent the development or acceptance of Western theories of just war and holy war in the Eastern Church.