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 11, 1998

Pricing and Purchase Info

$126.45 online 
$140.50 list price save 10%
Earn 632 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


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.

Joseph M. Lynch is Professor of Law Emeritus at Seton Hall University School of Law. Joseph H. Lynch is Distinguished University Professor and Joe R. Engle Designated Professor of the History of Christianity at The Ohio State University. His previous books include The Medieval Church: A Brief History and Godparents and Kinship in Early...
Title:Christianizing Kinship: Ritual Sponsorship in Anglo-Saxon EnglandFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.06 inPublished:August 11, 1998Publisher:Cornell University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801435277

ISBN - 13:9780801435270

Look for similar items by category:


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

"This new volume is a valuable study and a 'good read.' It is rich in its sensitivity to the many layers of and currents flowing within the sociopolitical context of seventh century conversion enterprises.... It will take its place on the basic shelf for discussions of early medieval society and church. It is also—last but hardly least—rich with ideas that can be taken into the (undergraduate) classroom; baptism, confirmation, and marriage patterns are still with us." - Joel T. Rosenthal, SUNY-Stony Brook - American Historical Review