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Augustine, of Hippo  

James J. O'Donnell

Christian bishop and theologian, was born Aurelius Augustinus on 13 November 354 CE in Tagaste (mod. Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa, the son of Patricius and Monnica. The names of father and son are marked by emphatic affiliation with Rome (echoing the imperial title of Augustus and the high dignity of “patrician”), while the mother’s name echoes the traditional Punic culture of Africa and one of its leading deities. Augustine died as bishop of Hippo Regius (mod. Annaba, Algeria) on 28 August 430. He never ceased to surprise his contemporaries, and he has astonished many more to this day.

As the older son in a family of some social pretensions but limited resources Augustine should have grown to manhood as a country squire of narrow horizons But his parents were ambitious and found the money from an influential friend to send him away for education He studied first at ...

Article

Boen, William  

Darshell Silva

a Quaker, was born a slave near Rancocas, New Jersey, and was sometimes known as William Bowen or “Heston.” His owner treated him well, and Boen was allowed to learn to read and write. As a boy, Boen was afraid of dying during an Indian attack because of all of the stories circulating among the neighbors about others that were killed by Indians. Whenever he worked in the woods alone, he was on constant guard for Indian arrows. He felt he was not yet ready to die until he accepted what was within him that made him do good and reject evil, as the Quakers he was growing up around had done. The Society of Friends is a Christian sect founded by George Fox in 1660 that rejects formal sacraments a formal creed priesthood and violence They are also known as Quakers and are recognized by their plain speech ...

Article

Brown, Morris  

Will Gravely

African Methodist Episcopal minister and bishop, was born of mixed parentage in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent his early and middle years. Apparently self-educated, he worked as a boot maker and shoe repairman; he married Maria (maiden name unknown), with whom he had six children. Associated with the city's community of free people of color, Brown earned a reputation for assisting slaves in purchasing their freedom and for teaching and advising both free and enslaved African Americans in the region.

Soon after his religious conversion and his joining of the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church, Brown was licensed to preach. In that role he had greater access to the slave population as well as to groups of free African Americans. As the number of blacks grew, both generally and within the African church in Charleston, Brown emerged as their leader. As a result of an 1816 dispute over a ...

Article

Haynes, Lemuel  

Richard Newman

Congregational minister, was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, the son of a black father and a white mother, both unknown, and both of whom abandoned him at birth. He was indentured at five months of age to a white family named Rose through whom he absorbed strong Calvinist theology and evangelical piety. He was educated in the local schools, but, a serious and diligent child, he also taught himself by the light of the fireside at night; he later said, “I made it my rule to know more every night than I knew in the morning.” In 1783 he married Elizabeth Babbit, a white schoolteacher who had proposed to him; they became the parents of ten children.

Haynes fulfilled his indenture and came of age just as the American Revolution was beginning. He signed up as a minuteman in 1774 and joined militia troops at Roxbury Massachusetts ...

Article

Hosier, “Black Harry”  

Sandy Dwayne Martin

lay preacher, itinerant minister, early Methodist leader and guide, was born a slave, perhaps in the area of Fayetteville, North Carolina. There have been variations of his last name circulating throughout history: Hoosier, Hossier, and Hoshier in particular. Apparently he was often called “Black Harry” because of his purely African lineage. Little is known about his early life, his parentage or his family, and there is no record of the exact month and day of his death. He may have been enslaved by a Henry (or Harry) Dorset Gough in the Baltimore area.Hosier's tremendous power as a preacher, however, is well documented, beginning around 1780. Hosier preached in the Carolinas, the Middle Colonies and into the New England area. His fame as a circuit preacher emerged alongside several luminaries of early Methodism: Francis Asbury, Freeborn Garretson, Thomas Coke, Jesse Lee, Richard ...

Article

Jones, Absalom  

Donald S. Armentrout

first black Protestant Episcopal priest, was born in Sussex, Delaware, the son of slave parents. He was a small child when his master took him from the fields to wait on the master in the house. Jones was very fond of learning and was very careful to save the pennies that were given to him by ladies and gentlemen from time to time. He soon bought a primer and would beg people to teach him how to read. Before long he was able to purchase a spelling book, and as his funds increased he began to buy books, including a copy of the New Testament. “Fondness for books gave me little or no time for amusements that took up the leisure hours of my companions” (Bragg, 3).

When Jones was sixteen his mother five brothers and a sister were sold and he was taken to Philadelphia by his master There ...

Article

Lee, Jarena  

Jualynne E. Dodson

preacher and evangelist, was born in Cape May, New Jersey. She was not born a slave, but little is known about her family. They were obviously poor enough that at the age of seven Lee was hired out as a live-in maid to a family that lived some sixty miles from her home. She had a religious awakening in 1804, and several years later she recounts achieving rebirth to a life free of sin and focused on spiritual perfection. Each of these spiritual transformations occurred after Lee had experienced physical hardships. Her autobiography describes a long and laborious struggle that led her to the conviction that she should preach. In 1836 she published an autobiographical narrative, The Life and Religious Experiences of Jarena Lee. The narrative was reprinted in 1839, and in 1849 she produced an expanded version under the title Religious Experiences and Journal of ...

Article

Maimonides, Moses  

Allen J. Fromherz

philosopher, physician, and rabbinical scholar, was born around 1135 in that ornament of the world the city of Córdoba in Muslim controlled al Andalus In fact Maimonides would spend his whole life in lands under Muslim control mainly in Morocco and Egypt Also known as Rambam and Ibn Maymun he and his thought were fundamentally influenced by the Islamic and mainly Arabic speaking civilization in which he lived At the same time he had a profound knowledge of Jewish literature and scriptural commentary as well as Greek thought In this way Maimonides integrated the major historical and cultural traditions of the Mediterranean the Middle East and Africa Faced with powerful attacks on Judaism from Christian and Muslim scholars such as Petrus Alfonsi and Ibn Hazm attacks based on a use of Greek reason and logic Maimonides was able to respond with his own application of reason to Jewish theology ...