Between the third and sixteenth centuries, penance (the acts or gestures performed to atone for transgression, usually with an interest in the salvation of the penitent’s soul) was a crucial mode of participation in both society and the cosmos. Penance was incorporated into political and legal negotiations, it erupted in improvisational social dramas, it was subject to experimentation and innovation, and it saturated western culture with images of contrition, suffering, and reconciliation. During the late antique, medieval, and early modern periods, rituals for the correction of human errors became both sophisticated and popular. Creativity in penitential expression reflects the range and complexity of social and spiritual situations in which penance was vital. Using hitherto unconsidered source materials, the contributors chart new views on how in western culture, human conduct was modulated and directed in patterns shaped by the fearsome yet embraced practices of penance.
Contributors are R. Emmet McLaughlin, Rob Meens, Kevin Uhalde, Claudia Rapp, Dominique Iogna-Prat, Abigail Firey, Karen Wagner, Joseph Goering, H. Ansgar Kelly, Torstein Jørgensen, Wietse de Boer, Ronald K. Rittgers, Gretchen Starr-LeBeau, and Jodi Bilinkoff.
Abigail Firey, Ph.D. (1995) in Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, is Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky. Her publications explore the cultural and intellectual contexts of early medieval canon law, most recently in
A Contrite Heart: Prosecution and Redemption in the Carolingian Empire (Brill, in press).
“An excellent starting point for those interested in the history of penance.”
Christopher Ohan, American University of Kuwait. In:
The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Fall 2010), pp. 841-842.
"This book will be useful to new students and advanced scholars interested in the long history of penance or the myriad of exciting approaches now being cultivated."
Owen M. Phelan, Mount Saint Mary’s. In:
Religious Studies Review, Vol. 37, No. 1 (March 2011), p. 67.
Table of contents
Abigail Firey Truth, Tradition, and History: The Historiography of High/Late Medieval and Early Modern Penance,
R. Emmet McLaughlin The Historiography of Early Medieval Penance,
Rob Meens Juridical Administration in the Church and Pastoral Care in Late Antiquity,
Kevin Uhalde Spiritual Guarantors at Penance, Baptism, and Ordination in the Late Antique East,
Claudia Rapp Topographies of Penance in the Latin West (c.800–c.1200),
Dominique Iogna-Prat and translated by Graham Robert Edwards Blushing before the Judge and Physician: Moral Arbitration in the Carolingian Empire,
Abigail Firey Cum aliquis venerit ad sacerdotem: Penitential Experience in the Central Middle Ages,
Karen Wagner The Scholastic Turn (1100–1500): Penitential Theology and Law in the Schools,
Joseph Goering Penitential Theology and Law at the Turn of the Fifteenth Century,
Henry Ansgar Kelly Between the Reality of Life and the Order of Canon Law: The Holy Apostolic Penitentiary and the Supplications from Norway 1448–1531,
Torstein Jørgensen At Heresy’s Door: Borromeo, Penance, and Confessional Boundaries in Early Modern Europe,
Wietse de Boer Embracing the ‘True Relic’ of Christ: Suffering, Penance, and Private Confession in the Thought of Martin Luther,
Ronald K. Rittgers Lay Piety and Community Identity in the Early Modern World,
Gretchen Starr-LeBeau Confessors as Hagiographers in Early Modern Catholic Culture,
Jodi Bilinkoff About the Contributors
Scholars and students interested in the cultural and intellectual history of Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the early modern period (Europe/New World), especially with respect to religious history, theology, legal history, Judaic studies, historiography, hagiography, ritual, and Latin literature.