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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:55233
Doc. No:TL25187
Call number:‭3311971‬
Main Entry:Anne Bradford Townsend
Title & Author:The Cathars of Languedoc as heretics: From the perspectives of five contemporary scholarsAnne Bradford Townsend
College:Union Institute and University
Date:2008
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2008
Page No:231
Abstract:The purpose of this dissertation is to demonstrate that the Cathar community of Languedoc, far from being heretics as is generally thought, practiced an early form of Christianity. A few scholars have suggested this interpretation of the Cathar beliefs, but none have pursued it critically. In this paper I use two approaches. First, this study will examine the arguments of five contemporary English language scholars who have dominated the field of Cathar research in both Britain and the United States over the last thirty years, and their views have greatly influenced the study of the Cathars. Each historian represents a different approach to Cathar research, such as religious studies, political history, etc.; so their research exemplifies a broad spectrum of historical and religious ideas. This is a unique opportunity to examine a body of scholarly work that has had an impact on this area of history. Four of these scholars view the Cathars as heretics. One of the five, an American scholar, has formulated a new approach which argues that the phenomenon of "good men" and "good women" (as the Cathars were known locally) was local only, and has no important effect on European history. It is my argument that these five historians' conclusions prevent them from asking the questions that would have led to a more fair and accurate assessment of the Cathars and their place in history. The second approach is to examine two ritual texts used by the Cathars of Languedoc--The Vision of Isaiah and the consolamentum --that demonstrate their roots in early Christianity. The Vision of Isaiah was their meditative ascension text for the living, and the consolamentum was their ritual ascension text for helping those who were dying. This analysis shows that the Cathars incorporated the ascent practice in their belief system. Ascension, which is a process whereby a visionary would ascend to the heavenly realms and return with messages from the journey, was used not only in the Judaic tradition but also in early Christianity, and later emerged in mystical Christianity. These rituals are examined by taking a phenomenological approach within the context of religious studies. When the Cathars are viewed within the sociological and historical framework of Languedoc in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, what emerges is that the troubadours and the Kabbalists were also using the ascent practice, in a form that incorporated the divine feminine. And Bernard of Clairvaux, taking as his text the Song of Songs, was reintroducing the ascent practice into the Christian mystical community. The use of this practice was possible because a cultural renaissance was in progress in Languedoc that created an unusually open atmosphere at that time in the Middle Ages. By moving beyond the arguments of these five scholars, a more inclusive world view of the Cathars emerges through the phenomenological approach of examining them from within their ritual practices and in the context of the culture of Languedoc. This community made an important contribution to mystical Christianity through their revival of the ascent practice.
Subject:Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Cathars; Languedoc; Heresy; Gnosticism; Albigensian Crusade; Inquisition; France; Religion; Religious history; Medieval history; 0330:Religious history; 0581:Medieval history; 0318:Religion
Added Entry:R. McAndrews
Added Entry:Union Institute and University