Medieval Church Symbolism: An Introduction, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Medieval Church Symbolism

An Introduction, 1st Edition

By Mark Spurrell


256 pages

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Medieval Church Symbolism: An Introduction explores the ways in which the Medieval church building and key features of it were used as symbols, particularly to represent different relationships within the Church and the virtues of living a Christian life.

This book introduces the reader to the definition, form and use of medieval symbols, and the significance that they held and still hold for some people, exploring the context in which church symbolism developed, and examining the major influences that shaped it. Among the topics discussed are allegory, typology, moral interpretation, and anagogy. Further chapters also consider the work of key figures, including Hugh and Richard of St Victor, and Abbot Suger at St-Denis. Finally, the book contrasts the Eastern world with the Western world, taking a look at the late Middle Ages and what happened to church symbolism once Aristotle had ousted Plato from the schools.

Entering into the Medieval mind, and placing church symbolism in its context, Medieval Church Symbolism will be of great interest to upper level undergraduates, postgraduates and scholars working on Architectural History, Medieval Art, Church History, and Medieval History more widely.

Table of Contents

Ch. 1. Visual Allegories and Verbal Symbols

Ch. 2. Recent Symbolism

Ch. 3. Symbol and Meaning

Ch. 4. Allegory

Ch. 5. Typology

Ch. 6. The Moral Interpretation

Ch. 7. Anagogy

Ch. 8. Hugh and Richard of St Victor

Ch. 9. Simplified Symbols

Ch. 10. Buildings as Symbols

Ch. 11. Numbers as Symbols

Ch. 12. Suger and Saint-Denis

Ch. 13. The East

Ch. 14. The Triumph of Literalism

Ch. 15. Images; Ch. 16. In conclusion

Appx 1. A poem contemplating the new church at Edessa

Appx 2. The dedication of a church in the East

Appx 3. A hymn for the Feast of Dedication in the west

Appx 4. Icelandic Homily for the Festival of the Dedication of a Church

Appx 5. Anon; Speculum de mysteriis ecclesiae

Appx 6. Honorius Augustodunensis, Gemma animae

Appx 7. St Bernard of Clairvaux, a Sermon

Appx 8. Sicardus, Mitralis de oficiis

Appx 9. Augustinus de Dacia, Rotulus pugillaris

Appx 10. Pelbartus, Sermon 104

Appx 11. Claritas: Light and Dark Churches

About the Author

Mark Spurrell is an independent scholar. He undertook his degree at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Modern History and Diploma in Theology. He trained for the priesthood at Lincoln Theological College, made deacon Michaelmas 1960 and Priested, Michaelmas 1961. Dr Spurrell undertook his DPhil at Oxford University, on ‘The development of the English medieval chancel and its use by the laity.’

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General