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Cistercian Stories for Nuns and Monks

The Sacramental Imagination of Engelhard of Langheim
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Cistercian Stories for Nuns and Monks by Martha G. Newman
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Description

Around the year 1200, the Cistercian Engelhard of Langheim dedicated a collection of monastic stories to a community of religious women. Martha G. Newman explores how this largely unedited collection of tales about Cistercian monks illuminates the religiosity of Cistercian nuns. As did other Cistercian storytellers, Engelhard recorded the miracles and visions of the order's illustrious figures, but he wrote from Franconia, in modern Germany, rather than the Cistercian heartland. His extant texts reflect his interactions with non-Cistercian monasteries and with Langheim's patrons rather than celebrating Bernard of Clairvaux. Engelhard was conservative, interested in maintaining traditional Cistercian patterns of thought. Nonetheless, by offering to women a collection of narratives that explore the oral qualities of texts, the nature of sight, and the efficacy of sacraments, Engelhard articulated a distinctive response to the social and intellectual changes of his period. In analyzing Engelhard's stories, Newman uncovers an understudied monastic culture that resisted the growing emphasis on the priestly administration of the sacraments and the hardening of gender distinctions. Engelhard assumed that monks and nuns shared similar interests and concerns, and he addressed his audiences as if they occupied a space neither fully sacerdotal nor completely lay, neither scholastic nor unlearned, and neither solely male nor only female. His exemplary narratives depict the sacramental value of everyday objects and behaviors whose efficacy relied more on individual spiritual formation than on sacerdotal action. By encouraging nuns and monks to imagine connections between heaven and earth, Engelhard taught faith as a learned disposition. Newman's study demonstrates that scholastic questions about signs, sacraments, and sight emerged in a narrative form within late twelfth-century monastic communities.

Author Biography

Martha G. Newman is Associate Professor in the Departments of History and Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
Release date Australia
November 27th, 2020
Audience
  • Tertiary Education (US: College)
Country of Publication
United States
Illustrations
5 illus.
Imprint
University of Pennsylvania Press
Pages
320
Dimensions
165x220x25
ISBN-13
9780812252583
Product ID
33300395

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