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.
'The book is learned, well researched, and covers a very broad range of material easily justifying the chronological limits outlined at the outset. The text is very clean across its 300-plus pages, and well produced." - Reviews in History
"Helen Foxhall Forbes intelligently mines an impressive number of diverse sources for evidence, including nonreligious ones, which reveal something about the workings of medieval theology 'on the ground.'"- Johanna Kramer, University of Missouri
Contents: Foreword; I believe in one God; Creator of all things, visible and invisible; And He will come again to judge the living and the dead; The communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins; The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting; Epilogue; Bibliography; Indexes.