Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Medieval Christianity in Practice

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Medieval Christianity in Practice

Article excerpt

Medieval Christianity in Practice. Edited by Miri Rubin. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009, Pp. xvi, 346. $22.95, paper.)

This delightful collection consists of forty-two selections from medieval primary sources and commentary on them, all by specialists in their areas. Broadly covering the practice of Christian faith in Europe from about 900 to 1500, the contents have a slight bias towards northern and western regions in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. While this series ("Princeton Readings in Religion") is intended as instructional material for upper-division and graduate religious studies coursework, this volume could be particularly valuable in providing an interaction with source materials in medieval church history.

Arranged into groupings of "Life Cycle," "Churches, Parishes, and Daily Life," "The Pursuit of Perfection," and sections on "Work and Travel," "Healing," "Charity," "Cult of the Saints," and "Rituals of Power," each of the chapters consists of a short (one-to three-page) English translation of an integral text. These vary: two directions for blessings of flocks to ward off disease (William Jordan's "Charms to Ward off Sheep and Pig Murrain"), complete liturgies for public penance (Sarah Hamilton's "Doing Penance"), marginalia in books of hours (Eamon Duffy's "Two Healing Prayers"), books of accounts (Penny Galloway's "The Renovation of the Chapel in the Beguinage of Lily"), and eschatological visions (Robert Lerner's "Woe to the World in One Hundred Years").

The commentaries, typically five to six pages long, not only contextualize the readings, but provide succinct introductions to the areas of study. Particularly fine are Sara Lipton's "Images in the World: Reading the Crucifixion" and Gábor Klaniczay's "On the Stigmaticization of Saint Margaret of Hungary" which put art history into conversation with medieval religious practice. The readings on lay spirituality, which include "The Rule of the Beghards of Bruges" (Walter Simon's "Lives of the Beghards"), and "The Life of Abert Ter Achter (John Van Engen's "The Practices of Devotio moderna"), as well as Galloway's account books, balance out narratives of medieval clerical and monastic spirituality with strong doses of historical realism. …

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