Christianizing Kinship: Ritual Sponsorship in Anglo-Saxon England by Joseph M. LynchChristianizing Kinship: Ritual Sponsorship in Anglo-Saxon England by Joseph M. Lynch

Christianizing Kinship: Ritual Sponsorship in Anglo-Saxon England

byJoseph M. Lynch

Hardcover | August 13, 1998

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When Christianity spread from its Mediterranean base into the Germanic and Celtic north, it initiated profound changes, particularly in kinship relations and sexual mores. Joseph H. Lynch traces the introduction and assimilation of the concept of spiritual kinship into Anglo-Saxon England. Covering the years 597 to 1066, he shows how this notion unsettled and in time altered the structures of the society.In early Germanic societies, kinship was a major organizing principle. Spiritual kinship of various kinds began to take hold among the Anglo-Saxons with the arrival of Christian missionaries from Rome in the seventh century. Lynch discusses in detail sponsorship at baptism, confirmation, and other rituals in which an individual other than a biological parent presented someone, often an infant, for initiation into Christianity. After the ceremony, the sponsor was regarded as the child's spiritual parent or godparent, whose role complemented that of the natural mother and father, with whom the sponsor had become a "coparent." He describes the difficulties posed by the incest taboo, which included a ban on marriage between spiritual kin. Lynch's work reveals how Anglo-Saxons, though never accepting the sexual taboos that were so prominent in the Frankish, Roman, and Byzantine churches, did create new forms of spiritual kinship. Unusual in its focus and scope, this book illuminates an integral element in the religious, social, and diplomatic life of Anglo-Saxon England. It also contributes to our understanding of the ways in which Christianization reshaped societal relations and moral attitudes.
Title:Christianizing Kinship: Ritual Sponsorship in Anglo-Saxon EnglandFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.4 inPublished:August 13, 1998Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801435277

ISBN - 13:9780801435270

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From Our Editors

Tracing the introduction and assimilation of spiritual kinship into Anglo-Saxon England between 597 and 1066, Joseph Lynch shows how the concept unsettled and altered the societal structures. Christianizing Kinship discusses the arrival of Christian missionaries in the seventh century, sponsorship at baptisms, confirmations and other rituals, the difficulties of the incest taboo and the unique forms of spiritual kinship created by the Anglo-Saxons.

Editorial Reviews

"An impressive book. Joseph Lynch has mastered the secondary literature and the diverse sources on sponsorship for Anglo-Saxon England, and he also knows the Continental and canonical material. The book is clearly and concisely written."—Robin Fleming, Boston College