Today in Christian History

March 19

March 19, 1229: Having negotiated a treaty with Muslims for Christian access to Jerusalem, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (a reluctant participant in the sixth crusade) enters the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and crowns himself king. But his peace treaty was denounced by members of both faiths, and the same day the Catholic patriarch of Jerusalem pronounced an interdict on the city. Frederick was later excommunicated for making peace instead of war (see issue 40: The Crusades).

March 19, 1684: Jean Astruc, the founder of modern Pentateuchal criticism, is born in France. In 1753 he published an anonymous treatise positing that Moses used two earlier documents—called "Yahweh" and "Elohim" to designate which name for God was used in each—when he wrote the Pentateuch. The theory, which was first met with ridicule, was later expanded by J.G. Eichhorn.

March 19, 1813: Missionary-explorer David Livingstone is born in Blantyre, Scotland. Though he made only one African convert (who later backslid), he became Britain's missionary hero of the day and always considered himself a missionary more than an explorer (see issue 56: David Livingstone).

March 19, 1860: William Jennings Bryan, the best-known fundamentalist in America from the Civil War to the Great Depression, is born in Salem, Illinois. A three-time presidential candidate, he was Wilson's secretary of state and the prosecuting attorney in the famous Scopes Trial in Tennessee (see issue 55: The Monkey Trial and the Rise of Fundamentalism).

March 19, 1928: Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung is born in Germany. Appointed a theological assistant (peritus) of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council, he was later denied permission to teach as a Catholic theologian when his views began to challenge many traditional doctrines (like papal infallibility).

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July 19, 1692: Puritan magistrates convict and hang five women for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. By September, 20 people had been executed on charges brought by 15 young girls (see issue 41: The American Puritan).

July 19, 1848: More than 300 men and women assemble in the Wesleyan Chapel at Seneca Falls, New York, for the first formal convention to discuss "the social, civil and religious condition and the rights of women." The event has been called the birthplace of the women's rights movement. ...

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