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Suicide in the Middle AgesVolume ii: The Curse on Self-Murder$
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Alexander Murray

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207313

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207313.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 December 2019

Religion

Religion

Chapter:
(p.86) 3 Religion
Source:
Suicide in the Middle Ages
Author(s):

Alexander Murray

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207313.003.0004

The most authoritative literary heirloom of medieval religion was the Bible. More precisely, in the Middle Ages, the Bible meant the Vulgate. The meaning of biblical passages on suicide has been debated with a vigour inversely proportional to their length, with the result that interpretations have been dependent largely on context and comparison. That means looking at the Bible through the eyes of the early Church first, as its passages concerning suicide came down through the Vulgate, and second, at how they were invoked and interpreted by the early ‘Fathers’ available in Latin. Only St Augustine spoke at any length on suicide, and bequeathed to later generations what became its locus classicus. The discussion here begins with the Bible, goes on to the Fathers before Augustine, and finishes with St Augustine.

Keywords:   Bible, St Augustine, Fathers, martyrs, Vulgate

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