Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Medieval Christianity in Practice

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Medieval Christianity in Practice

Article excerpt

Medieval Medieval Christianity in Practice. Edited by Miri Rubin. [Princeton Readings in Religions.] (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2009- Pp. xviii, 346. $80.00. ISBN 978-0-691-09058-0.)

A more correct title for this volume might be Medieval Latin Christianity in Practice. Miri Rubin mentions the lack of treatment of Eastern Christianity in her introduction. Unfortunately, this means that important topics, such as the iconoclastic question, have been largely passed over. Given the fact that during much of this period ties between East and West were close, we must recognize the problem in dealing with subjects such as eremitism that cannot be fully understood save in a context that reflects this continuing relationship. Although there is much of value in this volume, it is not the comprehensive collection its editors seem to promise.

Since it will undoubtedly find its way into many classrooms, in consideration of the fine group of contributors, it deserves serious consideration. The arrangement of the work is topical rather than chronological .Within each section, the individual topics consist of a primary source and a discussion of that source.The source material is drawn chiefly from manuscripts and may range from lists to narratives. The discussions vary in length from short commentaries to extended essays. Several are notable and can provide the basis for interesting discussions, but most often there is not enough context to put the source into a background that adds to our understanding of the title given to the section.Those planning to use this volume in class should be prepared to provide additional background. Still, it may be especially useful in graduate seminars or as an aid to graduate training, where the emphasis on manuscript sources may enrich the experience of students.

Given the manner in which the volume was planned, it is not surprising that major changes in devotions such as the rosary or the development of new feasts such as Corpus Christi did not find a place. The impact of the mendicants on the devotional life of the Church does not emerge as an important feature. …

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