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popes against the protestantsYale University Press (August 17, 2021)


An account of the alliance between the Catholic Church and the Italian Fascist regime in their campaign against Protestants

Based on previously undisclosed archival materials, this book tells the fascinating, untold, and troubling story of an anti-Protestant campaign in Italy that lasted longer, consumed more clerical energy and cultural space, and generated far more literature than the war against Italy’s Jewish population.

Because clerical leaders in Rome were seeking to build a new Catholic world in the aftermath of the Great War, Protestants embodied a special menace, and were seen as carriers of dangers like heresy, secularism, modernity, and Americanism—as potent threats to the Catholic precepts that were the true foundations of Italian civilization, values, and culture. The pope and cardinals framed the threat of evangelical Christianity as a peril not only to the Catholic Church but to the fascist government as well, recruiting some very powerful fascist officials to their cause. This important book is the first full account of this dangerous alliance.   



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"Many Americans will be surprised, as I was, that one of the Vatican’s main worries in the 1930s was a small but successful mission effort of evangelical Protestants in Italy. This would all be comical if were not being played out during the real tragedy of fascism. Madigan masterfully sees all sides of this little-known episode."—Garry Wills

“While shedding a penetrating light on Pius XI’s little known efforts to get Mussolini to act against the Protestants, Madigan also offers absorbing accounts of how this Church campaign played out in the hinterland. The Popes against the Protestants opens up a largely unexplored field for understanding the history of both the Roman Catholic Church and Italy.”—David Kertzer, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Pope and Mussolini

"Kevin Madigan provides an essential reckoning with the deep currents of mistrust, and even hatred, that once openly set Catholics and Protestants against each other—currents that quietly run on even now, poisoning authentic belief and fueling fires of culture war. Madigan’s exemplary work of history has urgent relevance to today’s twin crises of faith and politics.”—James Carroll, author of The Truth at the Heart of the Lie

“In this groundbreaking study, Kevin Madigan traces the concerted Vatican antagonism, laced with antisemitic motifs, toward Protestant missionaries of various denominations. In the papal struggles against liberalism, Protestants, and the secular state, Madigan presents a new dimension of the popes’ support for fascism.”—Susannah Heschel, author of The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany

“In this novel and acute study, Kevin Madigan shows the depth of papal hostility toward the Protestant sects that took root in Italy, and how the Vatican was as ready as Mussolini's dictatorship to persecute its perceived enemies.”—Richard Bosworth, author of Mussolini and the Eclipse of Italian Fascism

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Medival ChristianityYale University Press (November 2015)


Description: For many, the medieval world seems dark and foreign—an often brutal and seemingly irrational time of superstition, miracles, and strange relics. The aggressive pursuit of heretics and attempts to control the “Holy Land” might come to mind. Yet the medieval world produced much that is part of our world today, including universities, the passion for Roman architecture and the development of the gothic style, pilgrimage, the emergence of capitalism, and female saints.

This new narrative history of medieval Christianity, spanning the period 500 to 1500 CE, attempts to integrate what is familiar to readers with new themes and narratives. Elements of novelty in the book include a steady focus on the role of women in Christianity; the relationships among Christians, Jews, and Muslims; the experience of ordinary parishioners; the adventure of asceticism, devotion, and worship; and instruction through drama, architecture, and art. Madigan expertly integrates these areas of focus with more traditional themes, such as the evolution and decline of papal power; the nature and repression of heresy; sanctity and pilgrimage; the conciliar movement; and the break between the old Western church and its reformers.

Illustrated with more than forty photographs of physical remains, this book promises to become an essential guide to a historical era of profound influence.

"This will undoubtedly be the fundamental narrative account of medieval Christianity for the next generation, smartly and engagingly written."—John Van Engen, University of Notre Dame
"This impressive summary of the medieval church is comprehensive in coverage, rich in detail, and clear in presentation. It seamlessly combines the best of the received story of medieval Christianity with challenging insights from the newest historiography."—Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago
"A masterful yet accessible introduction to the principal institutional, intellectual, and social developments of medieval Christianity, including the papacy and religious orders, particularly valuable for its attention to the place of Jews, Muslims, heretics, and women in these developments, as well as the problem of educating the laity."—Rachel Fulton Brown, author of From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200

"This much-needed book deftly combines the institutional, theological and intellectual history of medieval Christianity. Madigan admirably includes important topics missing from earlier surveys, such as Christian attitudes towards Jews and Muslims, the roles of women, liturgy, popular devotion and the arts."—E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania

"Offering a new approach to the history of medieval Christianity, this ambitious book fully lives up to the expectations it sets. Throughout its subtle and supple narrative, it deepens readers' knowledge of this important period."—Willemien Otten, University of Chicago
"This is a masterful survey spanning a thousand years of the history of Christianity in Europe.  Madigan shows an impressive command of recent scholarship as he brings to life the spiritual, institutional and intellectual struggles of individuals, be they popes or beguines, hermits or heresiarchs."—John Tolan, Université de Nantes
"Accessible and clear . . . an engaging narrative history that should please experts while whetting the appetites of beginners."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[A] crowning scholarly achievement . . . a landmark of popular history . . . probingly researched and well-written . . . Madigan captures the power of it all and also the multifaceted humanity of it all . . . page-turningly fascinating. If you want one rock-solid book on Church history, this is it."—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters
"[A] compelling exposition of the evolution of the church."—Thomas Filbin, Arts Fuse
"Admirable . . .compelling . . . Madigan’s book can be said to convey a picture of medieval Christianity that is no less lively for being well-informed and carefully balanced. It can be recommended without reservation to any interested reader."—Francis Oakley, Commonweal
"Kevin Madigan has produced a richly informative book. . . . He is a scholar of the first class himself, and reading his lucid text gives a powerful idea of what a splendid teacher he must be."—Philip Jenkins, Christian Century
"Given the explosion of scholarly interest in medieval religion . . . Medieval Christianity: A New History fulfills an evident need for a new synthesis. . . . Well written and broadly accessible, this book would indeed serve as a useful textbook in courses on the history of Christianity."—Tanya Stabler Miller, Catholic Historical Review
"A substantial and important contribution . . . a solid, nuanced, and enlightening narrative."—John W. Coakley, Church History
“Madigan's narrative is extremely compelling. This book recommends itself because of its thoroughness and balance throughout a wide variety of topics. . . . Although containing a wealth of scholarship, it is highly accessible.”—Jack Kilcrease, Anglican and Episcopal History

Bibliographic information

Resurrection Yale University Press (April 2009)


This book, written for religious and nonreligious people alike in clear and accessible language, explores a teaching central to both Jewish and Christian traditions: the teaching that at the end of time God will cause the dead to live again. Although this expectation, known as the resurrection of the dead, is widely understood to have been a part of Christianity from its beginnings nearly two thousand years ago, many people are surprised to learn that the Jews believed in resurrection long before the emergence of Christianity. In this sensitively written and historically accurate book, religious scholars Kevin J. Madigan and Jon D. Levenson aim to clarify confusion and dispel misconceptions about Judaism, Jesus, and Christian origins.

Madigan and Levenson tell the fascinating but little-known story of the origins of the belief in resurrection, investigating why some Christians and some Jews opposed the idea in ancient times while others believed it was essential to their faith. The authors also discuss how the two religious traditions relate their respective practices in the here and now to the new life they believe will follow resurrection. Making the rich insights of contemporary scholars of antiquity available to a wide readership, Madigan and Levenson offer a new understanding of Jewish-Christian relations and of the profound connections that tie the faiths together.


“This book brims with provocative insights and reveals many connections between the well-known Christian faith in resurrection and lesser known or previously unnoticed precedents and parallels in Jewish thought, the Hebrew Bible, and cognate literature.”—Jonathan Klawans, Boston University
"This is a gem of a book. Jon Levenson and Kevin Madigan address and correct a number of widely held misconceptions about Judaism, Jesus, and Christian origins, which continue to distort Jewish-Christian relations to this day."—Matthias Henze, Rice University
“No one will think the same about resurrection after reading this wonderful volume. Powerful and persuasive readings of the Bible adorn nearly every page. It will provide a fruitful ground for Jews and Christians to explore the roots of their shared faith in the world to come.”—Gary A. Anderson, University of Notre Dame
“This marvelous study of the resurrection of the body offers us the very best of Jewish and Christian scholarship on the two traditions, resulting in a book that will surely become the standard work on the subject for Jews and Christians alike—and indeed for all who want insight into our shared hope for a life beyond the grave.”—Richard J. Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Two Harvard scholars, one Jewish and the other Catholic, have co-authored this superb and readable treatment of a core belief in Judaism and Christianity—resurrection—and suggest how belief in resurrection can change one’s life.”—Richard J. Clifford, S.J., Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
“How did Roman era Jews and Christians learn to trust God's faithfulness to raise the dead? Resurrection is a luminous scriptural story, beautifully told by Madigan and Levenson.” —David L. Tiede, Augsburg College
“Accessible and engaging for the non-specialist, yet also with nuggets for the expert, Madigan and Levenson wonderfully clarify the biblical meaning of resurrection and illuminate both Christian and Jewish faiths.”—Walter Moberly, Durham University
"Cogent and accessible. . . . The deft historical arguments of Resurrection will draw adherents of both [Christianity and Judaism] to explore their 'neglected continuity.'"—Michael Peppard, Commonweal
"In Resurrection, Madigan and Levenson provide a unique and groundbreaking entry into the concept of resurrection. As such the book is truly a landmark work."—Gary A. Anderson, First Things
"An important, even urgent book that comes with vigor and passion."—Walter Brueggemann, The Christian Century
"Provides subtle readings of important biblical passages relating to life and death, and is extremely helpful to anyone looking to understand resurrection and immortality in Judaism."—Jewish Book World

The Passion of Christ Oxford University Press  (May 2007)


Since the earliest days of the Church, theologians have struggled to understand how humanity and divinity coexisted in the person of Christ. Proponents of the Arian heresy, which held that Jesus could not have been fully divine, found significant scriptural evidence of their position: Jesus wondered, questioned, feared, suffered, and prayed. The defenders of orthodoxy, such as Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, and Augustine, showed considerable ingenuity in explaining how these biblical passages could be reconciled with Christ's divinity. Medieval theologians such as Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure, also grappled with these texts when confronting the rising threat of Arian heresy. Like their predecessors, they too faced the need to preserve Jesus' authentic humanity and to describe a mode of experiencing the passions that cast no doubt upon the perfect divinity of the Incarnate Word. As Kevin Madigan demonstrates, however, they also confronted an additional obstacle. The medieval theologians had inherited from the Greek and Latin fathers a body of opinion on the passages in question, which by this time had achieved normative cultural status in the Christian tradition. However, the Greek and Latin fathers wrote in a polemical situation, responding to the threat to orthodoxy posed by the Arians. As a consequence, they sometimes found themselves driven to extreme and sometimes contradictory statements. These statements seemed to their medieval successors either to compromise the true divinity of Christ, his true humanity, or the possibility that the divine and human were in communication with or metaphysically linked to one another. As a result, medieval theologians also needed to demonstrate how two equally authoritative but apparently contradictory statements could be reconciled-to protect their patristic forebears from any doubt about their unanimity or the soundness of their orthodoxy. Examining the arguments that resulted from these dual pressures, Madigan finds that, under the guise of unchanging assimilation and transmission of a unanimous tradition, there were in fact many fissures and discontinuities between the two bodies of thought, ancient and medieval. Rather than organic change or development, he finds radical change, trial, novelty, and even heterodoxy.


"This book will delight and engage biblical scholars as well as historians and medievalists. It explores the tensions between the portraits of Jesus in the Gospels and later Christological doctrine and between patristic and medieval theologies. Its thesis, that there are radical discontinuities in Christian tradition and theology, as well as continuities, is important and timely." -- Adela Yarbro Collins, Buckingham Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale University Divinity School, author of Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism and Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse


"This important and innovative book challenges readers to re-think continuities and discontinuities in western Christian thought, and indeed with respect to one of its most central issues, the humanity of Christ. For too long scholars have described medieval scholastic theologians as indebted, even enchained, to inherited patristic authorities. Madigan demonstrates the ingenious creativity these writers brought to the interpretation of texts and issues when they had to articulate for themselves what it meant to say that Christ suffered or gained in knowledge or feared death. This will prove an outstanding new way to introduce students to the originality and subtlety of scholastic theologians." --John Van Engen, Professor of Medieval History, University of Notre Dame


"By tracing how western Christian authors from the patristic period to the High Middle Ages have dealt with the problem of Christ's passions, Kevin Madigan not only explores a central problem of Christology, but also makes a provocative argument about the history of Christian thought. Where previous scholars have seen continuity and development, Madigan finds discontinuity and tacit disavowal. Madigan claims that Christian orthodoxy, far from emerging organically from tradition, in fact continually reinvents itself, sometimes by distorting the thought of the "Fathers" it claims as authoritative. This thought-provoking book will stimulate much-needed debate among theologians and students of Christian history." --David Brakke, Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University, author of Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity


"Kevin Madigan's study is an achievement, due to its remarkable proportions: concise in length, sharp in thinking, well-contained in its scholarship, and as clear-cut in its statements. The argument is amde in a manner as meticulous as straight."--Thomist


"Madigan's slim book is an attempt to show that there was no substantial continuity in the doctrinal thought on the possibility of Christ between the patristic and medieval theologians... One welcomes such a book, which should open up more resources to students of medieval thought, literature, history, and theology." --Journal of Religious History
Antisemitism: An Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution [associate editor] (ABC-Clio, 2005).

The word "antisemite" was first used to describe a politically motivated enemy of the Jews in 1879. The subject of antisemitism has often been focused on the Holocaust; however, current events and history have much to add to this discussion. For example, in 1995 a Japanese pseudo-Buddhist religious cult, imagining itself to be under attack by Jews, released sarin gas on the Tokyo subway, killing 12. From 1881 to 1900 there were 128 public accusations of Jewish "ritual murder" allegedly involving the killing of Christian children to use their blood for religious purposes.

Entries in this encyclopedia span the period from ancient Egypt to the modern era. Key theoreticians of Jew-hatred and their written works, its permeation of Christianity and modern Islam, and its political, artistic, and economic manifestations are covered. This is the first comprehensive work that deals with the entire history of ideas and practices that engendered the Holocaust.



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Ordained Women

In a time when the ordination of women is an ongoing and passionate debate, the study of women's ministry in the early church is a timely and significant one. There is much evidence from documents, doctrine, and artifacts that supports the acceptance of women as presbyters and deacons in the early church. While this evidence has been published previously, it has never before appeared in one complete English-language collection.


With this book, church historians Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek present fully translated literary, epigraphical, and canonical references to women in early church offices. Through these documents, Madigan and Osiek seek to understand who these women were and how they related to and were received by, the church through the sixth century. They chart women's participation in church office and their eventual exclusion from its leadership roles. The editors introduce each document with a detailed headnote that contextualizes the text and discusses specific issues of interpretation and meaning. They also provide bibliographical notes and cross-reference original texts. Madigan and Osiek assemble relevant material from both Western and Eastern Christendom.


"The richly varied texts introduce us to a remarkable group of women."

"An invaluable resource for all who are interested in the historical evidence relating to the ordination of women as deacons and presbyters in the early centuries up to roughly the sixth century."

"Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek's collection and analysis of the historical documents on the topic is important and relevant to church historians and modern church leaders alike."

"Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek... have done the important work of bringing together into one volume all known Greek and Latin references to women deacons and presbyters."

"Thanks to this work, most of the pieces of the jig saw of the history of women in the diaconate are laid out before us."

"A masterful compilation and translation."

"Madigan and Osiek bring considerable scholarly expertise and experience to this difficult task."

"A thorough, well-researched, and lucid documentary history."

"Finally, readers have a single compendium in English of the evidence that women did hold church office as deacon, presbyter, and bishop, not simply as spouses of male officeholders and not in heretical sects but in their own right and in the Catholic Church."

"No academic library (and particularly seminary library) will want to be without this book."

"An excellent resource for deeper study of original texts as well as for informed entry into current ecclesial discussions of practice and polity."

"It is impossible to come away from this excellent, erudite and evenly argued book without some very uncomfortable questions about how women in the church have from the beginning been fitted into wider society's conception of what is appropriate and expedient."

"Madigan and Osiek have produced the best, most comprehensive, and extremely useful documentary history to date regarding the ordination of women in the early church."

"This publication will be very welcome to a wide audience that will include interested general readers as well as more advanced students of the history of early Christianity and will make a substantial contribution to the field."


University of Notre Dame Press (October 2003)

In this important new work, Kevin Madigan studies the development and union of scholastic, apocalyptic, and Franciscan interpretations of the Gospel of Matthew from 1150 to 1350. These interpretations are placed within the context of high-medieval religious life and attitudes of the papacy toward the Franciscan Order. Madigan uses the fortunes of the Franciscan Peter Olivi (d. 1298) and his commentary on Matthew as a lens through which to observe the larger theological and ecclesiastical developments of this era.

Structured in three sections, Olivi and the Interpretation of Matthew in the High Middle Ages begins with an analysis of the scholastic gospel commentary tradition in the schools of Laon and Paris. The second section of the book offers a detailed examination of the Treatise on the Four Gospels by the famed apocalyptic writer Joachim of Fiore. Finally, Madigan turns his attention to the disputes which plagued the Franciscan Order during the first century of its existence.

Madigan also focuses on Olivi’s Commentary on Matthew. He argues that this little-known work is perhaps the only Matthew commentary in the high Middle Ages to have been influenced by Joachim’s apocalyptic thought and shaped by internal and external disagreements over the highest form of religious life. Filled with severe criticisms of the hierarchy and leadership of the church, Olivi’s Matthew commentary was examined and eventually condemned by papally appointed theologians in the early fourteenth century.

“. . . An important and needed contribution to the history of biblical interpretation.” — The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. XXXVI, no.1, 2005

“It is . . . heartening to turn to this penetrating study of Peter John Olivi. . . . Madigan shows himself a very able scholar who works in the tradition of Beryl Smalley. . . . With Madigan’s help, there are new reasons to benefit from the unique exegesis expounded by this gifted Franciscan friar from the land of langue d’oc, who often enough said no to whatever he thought shortchanged the ideals of Jesus and Francis.” — Cistercian Studies

“Madigan ends by noting that Olivi’s distinctive exegetical traits—occasional controversialism and muted Joachism—had no future, for the Franciscan exegete who called the late-medieval tune, Nicholas of Lyra, had absolutely no use for them. Madigan’s book, however, will surely have a future because of its clarity and sovereign control of the material.” — The Catholic Historical Review

“For specialists in medieval exegesis and spirituality, it is important for the access it provides to Olivi’s unedited and largely unstudied Matthew commentary and for the fascinating implications it teases out.” — Religious Studies Review

“. . . Kevin Madigan has taken a careful scholarly knowledge of a biblical commentary and worked it into a much bigger picture. He contextualizes Olivi’s commentary in the history both of scriptural exegesis and of the mendicant-secular quarrels, especially over poverty, of the high Middle Ages. He employs his close reading to illuminate newly a much wider question, as all good scholarship should.” — Speculum