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English Preaching in the Late Middle Ages$
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H. Leith Spencer

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198112037

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112037.001.0001

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Ancient Customs and New Manners: Medieval Views of Preaching

Ancient Customs and New Manners: Medieval Views of Preaching

Chapter:
(p.78) 3 Ancient Customs and New Manners: Medieval Views of Preaching
Source:
English Preaching in the Late Middle Ages
Author(s):

H. Leith Spencer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112037.003.0003

This chapter focuses on the expectations and reactions of medieval audiences to preaching. Because sermons are a functional kind of writing designed to influence the audience's behaviour as well as to instruct them, the appreciation of a ‘good’ sermon or a ‘bad’ sermon from any age is determined as much by social, ideological, local, personal, and even idiosyncratic considerations. Audiences apparently sought some or all of the following properties in sermons: brevity; impressive, not ridiculous, delivery; diversion; novelty; entertainment; instruction; adherence to scripture; emotive power; and conformity to the listeners' beliefs. For preference, the preacher should be educated, personable, have a pleasing voice, and exhibit unimpeachable moral probity; he must never appear to condescend to his hearers; and remembering that, though he was Christ's representative, he was also his instrument, he should not glory in his own conceit.

Keywords:   preaching, sermons, good sermon, bad sermon, audience, preacher

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