Book Series Studies in the Early Middle Ages, vol. 17

The Old English Homily

Precedent, Practice, and Appropriation

Aaron J. Kleist (ed)

  • Pages: 534 p.
  • Size:160 x 240 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2007

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-51792-6
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53866-2
  • E-book
  • Available

This volume compiles a broad range of essays on Anglo-Saxon homilies as they are being studied today.


"Yes, the 200 or more homilies (...) are a big fraction of the extant corpus of writing in the pre-1100 English (...) and yes, there has been a lot of research in the past twenty years, with editions finally emerging after decades, or in some cases a century or more, of deferral and some really solid scholarship con contexts an history appearing, but it was still for me astonishing to see the range and quality of research on offer here." (The Review of English Studies), vol. 59, N° 240, June 2008)

"While effectively epitomizing the status quaestionis in the study of Old English homilies, the collection highlights new research paths and inspires future work, providing an invaluable tool for both the specialist and the novice in the field of Anglo-Saxon homiletics." (C. Di Sciacca in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, October 2009, p. 539-542)

"The Old English Homily is a handsome, weighty volume and the generous length of the essays gives space for in-depth studies. It offers an excellent statement of where we are in studying the Old English Homily but is far more than just an introduction to the area. (...) future work will build on this volume." (M. Clayton, in: The Medieval Review, 08.09.11)


The quarter-century that has passed since Paul Szarmach’s and Bernard Huppé’s groundbreaking The Old English Homily and its Backgrounds (1978) has seen staggering changes in the field of Anglo-Saxon homiletics. Primary materials have become accessible to scholars in unprecedented levels, whether digitally or through new critical editions, and these have generated in turn a flood of secondary scholarship. The articles in this volume showcase and build on these developments. The first five essays consider various contexts of and influences on Anglo-Saxon homilies: patristic and early medieval Latin sources, continental homiliaries and preaching practices, traditions of Old Testament interpretation and adaptation, and the liturgical setting of preaching texts. Six studies then turn to the sermons themselves, examining style and rhetoric in the Vercelli homilies, the codicology of the Blickling Book, sanctorale and temporale in the works of Ælfric, and the challenges posed by Wulfstan’s self-referential corpus. Finally, the last entries take us past the Conquest to discuss the re-use of homiletic material in England and its environs from the eleventh to eighteenth century. Together, these articles offer medieval scholars a new Old English Homily, one that serves both as an introduction to key figures and issues in the field and as a model of studies for the next quarter-century.

"[...] le médiéviste lira cet ouvrage fort bien présenté avec le plus grand intérêt." (P.-M. Bogaert in: Revue Bénédictine, 2008 1, 182)



Old English Homilies and Latin Sources - Charles D. Wright

Ælfric’s Manuscript of Paul the Deacon’s Homiliary: A Provisional Analysis - Joyce Hill

The Carolingian De festiuitatibus and the Blickling Book - Nancy M. Thompson

The Old Testament Homily: Ælfric as Biblical Translator - Rachel Anderson

The Liturgical Context of Ælfric’s Homilies for Rogation - Stephen J. Harris

Rereading the Style and Rhetoric of the Vercelli Homilies - Samantha Zacher

The Codicology of Anglo-Saxon Homiletic Manuscripts, Especially the Blickling Homilies - M. J. Toswell

Latin Sermons for Saints in Early English Homiliaries and Legendaries - Thomas N. Hall

Homiletic Contexts for Ælfric’s Hagiography: The Legend of Saints Cecilia and Valerian - Robert K. Upchurch

Ælfric’s or Not? The Making of a Temporale Collection in Late Anglo-Saxon England - Loredana Teresi

Wulfstan as Reader, Writer, and Rewriter - Andy Orchard

Old Wine in a New Bottle: Recycled Instructional Materials in Seasons for Fasting - Mary P. Richards

The Circulation of the Old English Homily in the Twelfth Century: New Evidence from Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 343 - Aidan Conti

Preaching Past the Conquest: Lambeth Palace 487 and Cotton Vespasian A. XXII - Mary Swan

Anglo-Saxon Homilies in their Scandinavian Context - Christopher Abram

Anglo-Saxon Homiliaries in Tudor and Stuart England - Aaron J. Kleist

Appendix: Anglo-Saxon Homiliaries as Designated by Ker