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Reading the Bible in the Middle Ages
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Reading the Bible in the Middle Ages

by ,

Bloomsbury 2015

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For earlier medieval Christians, the Bible was the book of guidance above all others, and the route to religious knowledge, used for all kinds of practical purposes, from divination to models of government in kingdom or household. This book's focus is on how medieval people accessed Scripture by reading, but also by hearing and memorizing sound-bites from the liturgy, chants and hymns, or sermons explicating Scripture in various vernaculars. Time, place and social class determined access to these varied forms of Scripture. Throughout the earlier medieval period, the Psalms attracted most readers and searchers for meanings.

This book's contributors probe readers' motivations, intellectual resources and religious concerns. They ask for whom the readers wrote, where they expected their readers to be located and in what institutional, social and political environments they belonged, and what real-life contexts or conjunctures inspired them; why the Old Testament so often loomed so large, and how its law-books, its histories, its prophetic books and its poetry were made intelligible to readers, hearers and memorizers. This book's contributors, in raising so many questions, do justice to both uniqueness and diversity.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Probes the motivations, intellectual resources and religious concerns of medieval readers
  • Examine the geographic, social, and institutional environments of
  • Ask why Medieval writers chose to write about particular parts of the Bible instead of others


  • Introduction by Jinty Nelson and Damien Kempf
  • Twelfth-Century Notions of the Canon of the Bible by Cornelia Linde
  • The Orator as Exegete: Cassiodorus as a Reader of the Psalms by Gerda Heydemann
  • Lay Readers of the Bible in the Carolingian Ninth Century by Jinty Nelson
  • Jeremiah, Job, Terence and Paschasius Radbertus: Political Rhetoric and Biblical Authority in the Epitaphium Arsenii by Mayke de Jong
  • Biblical Readings for the Night Office in Eleventh-Century Germany: Reconciling Theory and Practice by Henry Parkes
  • 'Quid nobis cum allegoria?' The Literal Reading of the Bible in the era of the Investiture Conflict by Florian Hartmann
  • Sibyls, Tanners and Leper Kings: Taking Notes from and about the Bible in Twelfth-Century England by Julie Barrau
  • Violence, Control, Prophecy and Power in Twelfth-Century France and Germany by Claire Weeda

Praise for the Print Edition

This is an excellent collection of essays demonstrating a wide variety of ways in which medieval people experienced and used Scripture. Particularly welcome is the consideration of audience and of the embedding of exegetical argumentation in wider political and personal aims.

—William T. Flynn, Lecturer in Medieval Latin, University of Leeds, UK

Unusually coherent and crisply written, displaying an impressive chronological and geographic range, this volume tells us who read the Bible, why, to what uses readers put it, and what versions they read. These essays will be of keen interest to scholars in many fields.

—Thomas F.X. Noble, Andrew V. Tackes Professor, University of Notre Dame, USA,

Product Details

About the Editors

Janet Nelson is Emerita Professor in the Department of History, King's College London, UK. She is a Fellow of the British Academy has published extensively on early medieval Europe.

Damien Kempf is a researcher at the University of Liverpool, UK, and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow at Heidelberg University, Germany.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition

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