The prodigious writings of Archbishop Wulfstan (d. 1023) encompass secular laws, religious canons, political theory, and homilies (sermons); despite their importance, however the homilies have not received the critical attention they deserve, a gap which this book seeks to fill. It focuses on three particular aspects: the re-establishment of the Wulfstan homiletic canon, Wulfstan's processes of composition and revision as manifested in their manuscript variants, and his characteristic themes and concerns. These include adherence to secular and divine law; the keeping of Christian feasts and fasts; the payment of church dues and tithes; social justice for the poor; absolute clerical celibacy and sexual continence for the laity; repentance, prayer and penance; and the continual reminder, both pre- and post-millennium, that the end of the world is close at hand. Wulfstan's homilies indicate that for the English to heed his warnings, they would have to be persuaded or if necessarily legally coerced to adhere to the dictates of a "Holy Society"; and their influence can be seen in his law codes, where the book argues that even in coercion the archbishop sought to teach and to persuade. Joyce Tally Lionarons teaches in the English Department at Ursinus College, Pennsylvania.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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