Nicholas of Cusa's Brixen Sermons and Late Medieval Church Reform

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Scholarship has recognized fifteenth-century speculative thinker Nicholas of Cusa for his early contributions to conciliar theory, but not his later ecclesiastical career as cardinal, residential bishop, preacher, and reformer. Richard Serina shows that, as bishop in the Tyrolese diocese of Brixen from 1452 to 1458, and later as resident cardinal in Rome, Nicolas of Cusa left a testament to his view of reform in the sermons he preached to monks, clergy, and laity. These 171 sermons, in addition to his Reformatio generalis of 1459, reflect an intellectual coming to terms with the challenge of reform in the late medieval church, and in response creatively incorporating metaphysics, mystical theology, ecclesiology, and personal renewal into his preaching of reform.
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Biographical Note

Richard J. Serina, Jr., Ph.D. (2014), Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, teaches religion at Concordia College-New York. He writes on Nicholas of Cusa, church reform and ecclesiology in the late Middle Ages and Reformation, and medieval backgrounds to the Reformation.

Review Quotes

Nicholas of Cusa’s Brixen Sermons and Late Medieval Church Reform is a well-written and accessible work that will not only be of great use to Cusanus specialists, but enjoyed by anyone interested in a lively account of some of the most colorful episodes in fifteenth-century social and religious history.”
Meredith Ziebart. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Winter 2017), pp. 1589-1590.

Table of contents

Preface

Abbreviations

Timeline: Life and Major Works

Timeline: Brixen and Roman Reforms

Chapter One: Introduction
Cusanus and Late Medieval Reform
Interpretations of the Later Cusanus
Reform Ideas and the Brixen Sermons

Chapter Two: The Ecclesiastical Context of the Brixen Sermons
Cusanus and the Brixen Episcopate
Cusanus as Bishop of Brixen
Conflicts of Authority in the Tyrol
Reforms of the Brixen Episcopate
Sermons of the Brixen Episcopate

Chapter Three: The Intellectual Context of the Brixen Sermons
Cusanus and the Dionysian Hierarchies
Dionysian Hierarchies in the Early Conciliarism
Dionysian Hierarchies after the Papal Turn
Dionysian Hierarchies during the Brixen Episcopate
Dionysian Hierarchies, Church Hierarchy, and the Brixen Sermons

Chapter Four: Images of Church and Reform in the Brixen Sermons
Reform Ideas in the Brixen Sermons
Corpus Mysticum as Image of the Church
Christiformitas as Image of Personal Reform
Corpus Mysticum, Christiformitas, and the Dionysian Hierarchies

Chapter Five: Monastic Reform in the Brixen Sermons
Monastic Reform and the Brixen Religious
1453 Monastic Visitation Sermons
1454 Monastic Visitation Sermons
1455 Monastic Visitation Sermons
1457 Monastic Visitation Sermons
Preaching Monastic Reform in Brixen

Chapter Six: Pastoral Reform in the Brixen Sermons
Pastoral Reform and the Brixen Clergy
1453 Synodal Sermon
1454 Synodal and Chapter Visitation Sermons
1455 Synodal Sermon
1457 Synodal Sermon
Preaching Pastoral Reform in Brixen

Chapter Seven: Pastoral Reform in Rome
Reform in Renaissance Rome
Cusanus in Rome
1459 Roman Synodal Sermon
1459 Roman Visitation Sermons
1459 Reformatio Generalis
Preaching Pastoral Reform in Rome

Chapter Eight: Conclusion

Bibliography

Index

Readership

All those interested in medieval and Reformation church history, medieval and early modern Europe, intellectual history, church reform, mystical theology, and the history of preaching.

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