RUSSELL, J. C.,
The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity. A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation.
Oxford University Press, 1996. 272p. Paperback. ‘’The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity’ presents a series of related theses concerning the social and cultural evolution of Christianity during its first millennium. The most striking thesis is that contrary to the argument in several generations of Western Civilization texts, Latin Christendom did not assimilate the German tribes, rather the German tribes succeeded in having their own cultural values accepted as those of the Latin Church. This thesis is supported not so much with new empirical findings or revised narrative analysis, but by a carefully constructed essay built upon broad reading in ancient and medieval European history, sociology and contemporary missiology. Central to Russel’s case is a contrast between Latin Christianity as a ‘universalis’ religion which through Judaic and Hellenic influences had become ‘world-rejecting’, and the folk religions practiced by the Germanic tribes, which, as extensions of their communities, were essentially ‘world- accepting’. (…) The strongest aspect of Russell’s case is his argument for Germanic cultural resistance to assimilation into Latin civilization. While this is a point that has been made before, few have presented it with such systematic determination and with a concern to prove the vitality of Germanic values in the face of cultural contact. As Russell explains it, from the start the Latin need of Germanic military might far exceeded the German need for Latin civilization.’ (A.E. BARNES in Journal of Social History, 1995, p.441).