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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April 23, 1073: Hildebrand is elected pope, taking the name Gregory VII. The first pope to excommunicate a ruler (Henry IV), Gregory was driven out of Rome in 1084. "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity," were his last words, "therefore I died in exile.

April 23, 1538: John Calvin and William Farel (whom Calvin was assisting) are banished from Geneva. The day before, Easter Sunday, both had refused to administer communion, saying the city was too full of vice to partake. Three years later, ...

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