Careless Scholarship

And so my foray into Cantor’s Medieval History ends not too long after it began. Not because he is popular, but because he is careless. His discussion of the early, formative controversies in the Christian church is what I would expect from my undergraduate students: gross generalizations coupled with unwarranted inferences. This is not to say there aren’t interesting insights. His claim that of all the Christologocal controversies the Donatist was the most important is absurd. However, to link it to the birth of the Reformation is intriguing. Unfortunately his ham-fisted style quickly closes what would otherwise be a fruitful door. He struggles with dialectical tensions, wanting to resolve them too quickly. To say the Protestants were essentially Donatist is easily shown up by the fact that they spent most of their energies trying to appropriate the greatest enemy of Donatus: Augustine.

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