Miracles and Wonders : The Development of the Concept of Miracle, 1150-1350 book cover
1st Edition

Miracles and Wonders
The Development of the Concept of Miracle, 1150-1350

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ISBN 9780754658757
Published August 28, 2007 by Routledge
160 Pages

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Book Description

Beginning in the late twelfth century, scholastic theologians such as William of Auvergne, Thomas Aquinas and Engelbert of Admont attempted to provide a rational foundation to the Christian belief in miracles, bolstered by the Aristotelian theory of natural law. Similarly in this period a tension appeared to exist in the recording of miracles, between the desire to exalt the Faith and the need to guarantee believability in the face of opposition from heretics, Jews and other sceptics. As miracles became an increasingly standard part of evidence leading to canonization, the canon lawyers, notaries and theologians charged with determining the authenticity of miracles were eventually issued with a list of questions to which witnesses to the event were asked to respond, a virtual template against which any miracle could be measured. Michael Goodich explores this changing perception of the miracle in medieval Western society. He employs a wealth of primary sources, including canonization dossiers and contemporary hagiographical Vitae and miracle collections, philosophical/theological treatises, sermons, and canon law and ancillary sources dealing with the procedure of canonization. He compares and contrasts 'popular' and learned understanding of the miraculous and explores the relationship between reason and revelation in the medieval understanding of miracles. The desire to provide a more rational foundation to the Christian belief in miracles is linked to the rise of heresy and other forms of disbelief, and finally the application of the rules of evidence in the examination of miracles in the central Middle Ages is scrutinized. This absorbing book will appeal to scholars working in the fields of medieval history, religious and ecclesiastical history, canon law, and all those with an interest in hagiography.

Table of Contents

Contents: Appreciating Michael Goodich, Gary Dickinson; Preface; Introduction; Signa data infidelibus non fidelibus: the theology of miracle; The miracle in contemporary sermons; 'Popular' voices of doubt; Theory and public policy: canonization records; Canonization and the hagiographical text; Vidi in somnium: the uses of dream and vision in the miracle; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

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Michael E. Goodich was formerly Professor of Medieval History at the University of Haifa, Israel.


’This is an important volume in several respects. On the one hand, the volume will regrettably stand as Goodich’s final contribution to the study of the religious, political and social nature of the miraculous in the middle ages. At the same time, Goodich underlines with exceptional and vivid detail, informed by penetrating readings of an extensive range of hagiographical and theological texts as well as canonisation records and depositions, the extent to which faith and belief in the miraculous continued alongside a clear and increasing demand for legalistic proof and the desire to provide a more rational foundation for Christian belief in miracles, in the face of heresy and other manifestations of doubt and disbelief.’ English Historical Review ’This fascinating and provocative study draws on rich source material and will be of great interest to many... In sum, this is an extremely interesting and stimulating book, and it suggests a number of further avenues for research.’ The Medieval Review ’... Miracles and Wonders is a fascinating contribution to medieval church history and should be part of every graduate and seminary library.’ Catholic Book Review ’Ce livre, né de réflexions connexes à d’autres recherches, est une synthèse importante dans le paysage actuel des études sur la sainteté.’ Francia '... the abundant harvest of material here, from both manuscript and printed sources, is a fitting reflection of Michael Goodich's active and enduring fascination with the saints, miracles, and hagiographic writings of high medieval Europe.' Church History