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First, the book acts much like a script, detailing not only the various prayers and creeds which the member of the congregation was to hear or repeat, but also the actions required of them: when to kneel, when to be silent, when to look at the priest. When reading, it is possible to imagine the layman as an active participant in the church, teaching himself how to act, and not simply relying on cues from the clergy.
Second, the version that this EETS edition gives is actually four separate versions: the editor has chosen those manuscript variations because they demonstrate different usages of the text. Other versions also give more autonomy to the reader, asking him to choose whichever prayers he likes best.
It is a fascinating first-hand view into his or her mentality. However, there are some problems with this edition that I wish would be rectified with a newer version. The lengthy introduction is somewhat biased in its approach, less concerned with the history or the period and more with disparaging the Catholicism of the Mass and comparing it unfavorably to Christianity in England in the late Victorian period.
The print book is also large, and unwieldy, being somewhat weighted down with appendixes. Even so, the slight advantage of the ancient quality of this edition being its easy availability through the Internet Archive, I strongly suggest that teachers and students alike make the effort to get past the difficulties of its format; the text well rewards reading.
Anne B. While it is my intention to strongly limit the number of medieval-language resources in this bibliography, unfortunately sometimes it is inevitable. There are many fantastic and unique medieval texts which would be of immense value to the student of medieval religion that have not yet possibly owing to the somewhat limited popular interest in this subject been translated into modern English. This sermon from the Northern Homily Cycle is one such resource. The collection is an abridgement of a sermon cycle i.
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These were often disseminated among priests and used as models for their own sermons. Although there was some adaptation, these texts would have been repeated and heard in many parishes, on a regular basis. Considering the fact that only half the population was literate, sermons like this would have constituted a significant part of their verbal religious experience, and so such sermons are a necessary resource for teaching popular religion in the church.
In this collection the format is: an excerpt from a Gospel in Latin, a Middle English translation, a commentary on its deeper meaning, and an exemplum, usually featuring a saint. Quinquagesima is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and so features a story of Christ entering Jericho and giving a blind man his sight when he calls for Jesus.
This sermons shows both the complexity of the message that audiences were meant to grasp, the element of popular stories, and the repeated stress on basic ritual like saying the Paternoster which was such a large part of popular religion. While Rubin does not avoid some commentary on the mindset of the average spectator during this ritual, arguably more weight is given to the material aspect, such as the difficulties attendant upon imbuing physical objects with divinity; for example, she cites the creation of practices intended to avoid crumbs of the Eucharist from falling on the floor, and comments on the limited elevation of the chalice, to prevent spills.
Use of the index is recommended with this book, as several chapters are almost completely concerned with ecclesiastical decrees, the ritual within monastic communities, and other non-secular topics. London: I. I am only, though, selecting one essay from this collection because it is the only one which is absolutely relevant and which does not repeat information contained elsewhere. But most of the chapters are only tangentially relevant to the subject at hand. Instead, Tanner begins by discussing the concept of sin as it appears in our society, and how we have lost a sense of certainty about its definition and subsequently, he suggests, a clear way of dealing with it.
An interesting opportunity for class discussion, possibly. In explaining this point, he lays out for the reader a few basic ideas of what constituted the medieval mindset towards sin — it was rooted in the original sin of Adam and Eve, it was concentrated on the individual rather than his position, it was seen as forging common bonds with the rest of humanity, it was easily forgivable.
Although none of his claims here are very historically rigorous, or backed up with a mountain of evidence, it is a piece of rhetoric all the more powerful for how it consistently refers back to the present day and our often contrary attitudes, thereby providing a deeply compelling picture of the Middle Ages. Arnold Angenendt. While the handbook is an incredibly wide-ranging resource, many of its topics are not relevant to this bibliography or have already been represented elsewhere.
He actually refers fairly regularly back to the early church and the origins of saintly martyrdom in the 1st century after Christ and the wide-held belief in the coming apocalypse. This was an important change, Angenendt argues, as it sets the scene for the Middle Ages when subjective Christianity became dominant, i. Derek A. Washington, D.
In this chapter, however, he looks at the great variety of blessings which were a significant part of the everyday ritual that people experienced, dividing them into various groups who had particular sacred needs. Pilgrims and other travelers, for example, were given special items the staff and the scrip that were blessed to be holy in themselves, and consequently were seen as protecting their bearers in this way, this practice has a clear relationship with the medieval understanding of magic as commonly being embodied in objects.
He gives information on how these rituals evolved throughout the Middle Ages and changed across Europe, based on different interpretations of scripture.
Bernard Hamilton. Second Edition. London: Hodder, The bibliographical section earlier on prayer, ritual and the community deals with the rituals that spilled out of the church. Hamilton discusses their orthodox position as constructed and maintained by the church, and correspondingly fills in a lot of the information left out by other histories. It is in this book that the reader can find precise information on, for example, the types of holy oil used in baptism, how often they were blessed, and according to what calendar.
The medieval church, in his account, does not come off as especially strict or uncaring, but willing to work with the lay community and the difficulties of their lives.
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Hamilton also gives a certain degree of importance to partitioning out the medieval lay population, and explaining the different relationships of the church to the nobility and to the peasants, to university students and to merchants. It may be considered a sparse history, as it does not give much evidence or dwell on any particular case studies, but it should be an excellent resource for beginning research. Rosaline and Christopher Brooke. New York: Thames and Hudson, Similar to the above entry, this general-purpose textbook also approaches the topic of medieval religion predominantly from the standpoint of the church and institutional means of channeling popular belief.
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Such is the predominant theme of space and place — including a broad selection of contemporary photographs of existing churches — the history may be almost mistaken for a travel guide. Paul Binski. Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, Some of the histories hitherto cited in this bibliography are full of easy-to-use textual apparatuses, such as detailed tables of contents, multi-chaptered sections and complete indexes. It is not the easiest book to navigate, but anyone searching for precise information on local, regional and national medieval rituals about death can find something useful.
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It is something of a meandering text, and I cannot point to a single chapter which has a good summary of the important points. Binski is fond of the more darkly humorous medieval stories, like the one about the midwife who incorrectly baptized a baby and condemned it to Hell accidentally. Larry Scanlon. While the title of this book might suggest that it falls within the genre of literary criticism, and while several chapters are devoted to this subject in general and Chaucerian scholarship in particular, the fourth chapter is given over to a broader discussion of the sermon exemplum as a broadly cultural item found within and outside medieval sermons.
Scanlon explains how the exemplum tradition was geared towards the lay audiences in order to help them appreciate the moral weight of sin and the necessity to abide by the rules of the church by using the rhetorical power of the stories to produce emotional reactions in the congregation. This chapter is useful insofar as it gives many examples of a typical sermon exemplum, and demonstrates the logic behind increasingly using these for their persuasive powers where complex theological doctrine would have failed.
It is also valuable as a model for understanding the contemporary concerns of the laity who were addressed: Scanlon argues that the simple exemplum form did not introduce new ideas as much as reconfirm the importance of known moral precepts by using topical issues, drawing from elements of folklore and helping the audience engage with the protagonists. Students may find this text especially helpful when read alongside a medieval sermon, e. This section, therefore, only includes texts which also, I believe, speak to popular religion in some way — while their focus may be on the church, and pockets of heresy, or unorthodox religion, they provide valuable windows into the mainstream culture as well.
Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger.