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Religious teachings for the uneducated

Javier Soage sheds a light on how the least educated rows of the clergy were provided with the necessary knowledge. His edition of a number of texts found in manuscripts from the eighth to the tenth century (Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis, 311) provide a fascinating insight into basic teachings offered to the lower clergy.

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How did the least educated rows of the clergy get in touch with basic and more subtle religious teachings? Access to literacy was not the rule in the Early Middle Ages, but rather the exception. However, even the lowest rows of the Church were expected to be able to take care of their parishes. Therefore, the clergy was expected to be provided a certain knowledge. Oral transmission might have played the most important role in the formation of the lowest clergy. Still, several compositions have survived which might have also served this aim. These are rather simple, hardly original texts with friendly displays and oversimplified approaches to central matters of the Christian faith. Most of such compositions do not reach the highest standards of the time – nor do they attempt to do so. Yet, they are not mere personal notes for private use. They were surely meant to be circulated and to last – as they apparently did. This volume collects some of these texts, which appear to be related with one another in different ways. The collection, however, is not and could not be intended to be complete.

Javier Soage (1991, Spain) carries out research in Latin literature from the Middle Ages (PhD 2017, Univ. of Salamanca) and the Early Modern Period (2016-2020, Trier; 2021 Trier, Barcelona). His main lines of research deal with dubia, spuria and anonymous texts of didactical and homiletic nature. Focus is put on critical edition, apochryphal motives and miscellaneous codices.

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