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Heaven and earth in Anglo-Saxon England: theology and society in an age of faith

Foxhall Forbes, Helen

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Helen Foxhall Forbes


Christian theology and religious belief were crucially important to Anglo-Saxon society, and are manifest in the surviving textual, visual and material evidence. This is the first full-length study investigating how Christian theology and religious beliefs permeated society and underpinned social values in early medieval England. The influence of the early medieval Church as an institution is widely acknowledged, but Christian theology itself is generally considered to have been accessible only to a small educated elite. This book shows that theology had a much greater and more significant impact than has been recognised. An examination of theology in its social context, and how it was bound up with local authorities and powers, reveals a much more subtle interpretation of secular processes, and shows how theological debate affected the ways that religious and lay individuals lived and died. This was not a one-way flow, however: this book also examines how social and cultural practices and interests affected the development of theology in Anglo-Saxon England, and how ‘popular’ belief interacted with literary and academic traditions. Through case-studies, this book explores how theological debate and discussion affected the personal perspectives of Christian Anglo-Saxons, including where possible those who could not read. In all of these, it is clear that theology was not detached from society or from the experiences of lay people, but formed an essential constituent part.

Book Type Authored Book
Publication Date Nov 1, 2013
Deposit Date May 30, 2013
Publicly Available Date Sep 20, 2013
Series Title Studies in early Medieval Britain
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Published Book (631 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Used by permission of the Publishers from 'I Believe in One God'', in Heaven and Earth in Anglo-Saxon England : theology and society in an age of faith(Farnham etc.: Ashgate, 2013), pp. 1-61. © Ashgate Publishing 2013.

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