116p Retrieving the Real North African Church with Dr. David Wilhite

Episode 116p Retrieving the Real North African Church with Dr. David Wilhite

Description: Today is the last episode in our Summer of Scholars series. It lasted a bit more than just the summer, but it also started late in summer! Dr. David Wilhite, Ph.D., of Baylor University Truett Theological Seminary joins us today to talk about the Church of North Africa during antiquity. We have talked a lot about North African Christianity in this series, so I highly suggest you go back and listen to our episodes with Dr. David Eastman for more background and context. In this episode, Dr. Wilhite will lead us through a specific text and issue in the North African Church between the Donatists and the Catholic party about a generation before Augustine. It is a fascinating time and place in Church history.

About Today’s Guest:
David Wilhite, Ph.d author of The True Church: Retrieving a North African Sermon on the Song of Songs and many other books.

https://www.baylor.edu/truett/index.php?id=927830#wilhite

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Begin Transcript:
[00:00:00] Thank you for listening to the history of the papacy. I am your host, Stephen. We are a member of the Parthenon podcast network, including Scott ranks, history unplugged James earliest key battles of American history, Richard Lim’s, this American president, and more go to Parthenon podcast.com to learn more.
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We have Dapo Paul, Justin, and Launa all of whom are magnificent at Constantinople and reaching that ultimate power and prestige that of the sea of Rome. We have Peter the great. Today is the last episode. And our summer of scholar series, it lasted a bit more than just the summer, but it also started late in summer.
So I'll take it that we got a little bit of a late ending too. But anyways, for today, we are interviewing a great scholar, Dr. David Wilhite of Baylor university's Truett, theological seminary to talk to us today about the church in north Africa, during antiquity, we've talked a lot about [00:02:00] the north African church in this series.
So I highly suggest you go back and listen to our episodes with Dr. David Eastman and even go way, way back to the episode that I did on the north African church. And you can kind of explore. Not only my changing understanding of north African Christianity, but also some older scholarship and how the whole church and north Africa was viewed because really up until the seven hundreds, the history of Western Christianity was the church in north Africa.
And I it's just endlessly fascinating. And I think you really can't understand Western Latin Christianity without understanding the north African church. Now for this episode, Dr. Wilhite will lead us through a specific text and issue in the north African church between the Donna tests and the Catholic party about a generation before Augustan.
It is a [00:03:00] fascinating time and place in church history. And with that, here's the next piece of the mosaic of the history of the Pope's of Rome and Christian Church.
I'd like to welcome our very special guests today, Dr. David Wilhite, Dr. Willhite is a professor of theology at Truet seminary at Baylor university in Waco. He's the author of numerous books, including Tertullian, the African and ancient African Christianity. The topic for today's episode is his book, the true church, retrieving north African sermon on the song of songs.
This is a short and readable book on a really incredible, interesting topic. And I think people should definitely pick it up and I'm excited to talk about it because I think it gives the reader a really close look at all these things we've been kind of talking about with the African church, with the Donna tests and the Catholics that gives us a [00:04:00] more of a personal view of the topic, I think.
But so I think to start off, what were the theoretical frameworks you use to study these sermons? Yeah. Well, thanks Stephen. It's an honor to be talking to you about all of this. Um, let's say the theoretical framework. So this really began as an, uh, a journal article that I wrote, and I would say I was using pretty traditional methodology just as far as, you know, kind of trying to reexamine texts, trying to sort of create a chronological order and see what assumptions have been, um, uh, made in the past by previous scholars and what assumptions probably need to be challenged.
And then I sort of tested them against archeological remains and again, just sort of, sort of traditional, uh, historical sources. Now, the truth is what was really driving that research was a theoretical framework that I had used in my, in my doctorate, which was, um, in most general terms post-colonialism, uh, more specifically.
[00:05:00] Adopted some of the, sort of, uh, from the, from the field of social anthropology, sort of how to get around some of the ethnocentric assumptions that we make. So again, and challenge those, you know, the assumptions of earlier historians, what, uh, what were people's identities, what identity politics, where I play things like that.
Um, power dynamics with, with Roman colonization, um, Apollo that, so with post-colonial theory in particular, there's one author named Homi Bhabha who has a book called the location of culture. And he takes up this idea known as third space. And since, um, that's already widespread and post-colonial theory is sort of the helping people who inhabit the so-called third space.
They're not necessarily colonizer nor colonize, like that's too binary. They live in this sort of hybrid world. So, so what are their identities in that space? And then with, with this project, I was actually. Examining concrete spaces, the silica buildings. And so that, that [00:06:00] I sort of dove back into that realm of what is third space.
Um, there, there is a person named Edwards. So high, I think is how you say it. So Jake who has taken on, I mean, this, this way of thinking from Michael Miguel, Michelle Fuko, and others, and saying like, how do we understand actual inhabited places where people sit and interact, um, especially when they're sort of power dynamics and, uh, one view versus another view and what emerges out of that, it's this third space.
So I used all of that, trying to narrow laser-focused that on, on this one particular text. So we look at the. This text, there's the two, the dueling sermons. You might call them. Who were these two people who were writing these sermons about this, this space? Yeah. So the, the sort of last texts to us is by Armenian of Carthage.
He's the Bishop of Carthage after Donotos and Donald tests. Your listeners probably remember from the great Donald to schism, he's the sort of the Bishop that was at the head of all of that for [00:07:00] 40 years, 40 plus years. So when he finally dies Permian as his successor, and he's also a long-term because over 40 years, he's the Bishop of Carthage, even though he was exiled, he was the leader of his party.
So he's hugely influential. Um, and he, we know that he gives a sermon or some sort of speech, um, when. Uh, the emperor Julian who's a history remembers as Julian, the apostate, because he was not gonna continue the line of Christianity like Constantine and the other Christian emperors. Julian allows the so-called pagans to come back and have their temples and shrines back.
And that means that all of the, um, the, you know, the, the losing parties, the heretics, uh, of the early church. We've been ousted from their churches and their, their places, uh, we're allowed back. And so the donotist party had lost control in terms of the Imperial sanction, uh, after Constantine. But then when emperor, Julian allows the donotist to [00:08:00] reclaim their church buildings, their basilicas Armenian has this text that is celebrating that event.
So that texts that says lost to us, fortunately, even though like most heretics, you know, once you become a heritage, your books are burned. Like most of the heretic sources are lost, but, uh, there's a