Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Medieval Purity and Piety: Essays on Medieval Clerical Celibacy and Religious Reform

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Medieval Purity and Piety: Essays on Medieval Clerical Celibacy and Religious Reform

Article excerpt

Medieval Purity and Piety: Essays on Medieval Clerical Celibacy and Religious Reform. Edited by Michael Frassetto. [Garland Medieval Casebooks, Volume 19; Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, Volume 2006.] (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1998. Pp. xix, 401. $75.00.)

This collection of fifteen essays is organized in four parts: (1) "History and Historiography"; (2) "Clerical Celibacy and Reform before the Age of Gregory VII"; (3) "Gregory VII, Celibacy and the Eleventh-Century Revolution"; and (4) "Medieval and Modern Consequences of Clerical Celibacy."

Edward Peters in "History, Historians, and Clerical Celibacy," after a brief overview of the Reformation and post-Reformation polemics, traces modern scholarship on the subject from the work of the Theiner brothers in 1828 to the studies produced after the Second Vatican Council. These investigations have enhanced our knowledge of developments far broader than that of clerical celibacy For example, "the results of this research from Fliche [ 1924-1937] and Tellenbach to Liotta [ 1971 ] and Brundage [ 1991] have greatly transformed our understanding, not only of the issues and intellectual context of the Investiture Conflict but also of the history of doctrine, law, and the nature of clerical status itself in the history of the Church and in European society generally (p. 12). The title of R. I. Moore's study in this present volume, "Property, Marriage, and the Eleventh-Century Revolution: A Context for Early Medieval Communism," indicates how far afield the trail leads.

Several essays treating the period before Gregory VII find that the principal factor accounting for the importance attached to a celibate lifestyle for the clergy is ritual or cultic purity. Mayke de Jong in "Imitatio morum: The Cloister and Clerical Purity in the Carolingian World" notes that in the course of the ninth century the anointing of priests' hands became part of the ordination ritual. "Anointing clearly marked off kings and priests from the rest of the populus Christianus. The contrast was between those who had direct access to the sacred and those who did not; between those who 'corrected' and those who were the object of correctio" (p. …

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