Sacred Biography: Saints and Their Biographers in the Middle Ages

Paperback | June 1, 1995

byThomas J. Heffernan

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Though medieval "saints' lives" are among the oldest literary texts of Western vernacular culture, they are routinely patronized as "pious fiction" by modern historiography. This book demonstrates that to characterize the genre as fiction is to misunderstand the intentions of medievalauthors, who were neither credulous fools nor men blinded by piety. Concentrating on English texts, Heffernan reconstructs the medieval perspective and considers sacred biography in relation to the community for which it was written; identifies the genre's rhetorical practices and purposes; anddemonstrates the syncretistic way in which the life of the medieval saint was transformed from oral tales to sacred text. In the process, Heffernan not only achieves a more contextually accurate understanding of the medieval saints' lives, but details a new critical method that has importantimplications for the practice of textual criticism.

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From Our Editors

This excellent book attempts to bridge the gulf separating medieval from modern sensibility with regard to issues of authority and judgment in biographical writing...Logical, thorough, and well-documented...It is now, and will be for some time to come, the most substantive study of the subject, providing a fair assessment of the work o...

From the Publisher

Though medieval "saints' lives" are among the oldest literary texts of Western vernacular culture, they are routinely patronized as "pious fiction" by modern historiography. This book demonstrates that to characterize the genre as fiction is to misunderstand the intentions of medievalauthors, who were neither credulous fools nor men b...

From the Jacket

This excellent book attempts to bridge the gulf separating medieval from modern sensibility with regard to issues of authority and judgment in biographical writing...Logical, thorough, and well-documented...It is now, and will be for some time to come, the most substantive study of the subject, providing a fair assessment of the work o...

Thomas J. Heffernan is at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.27 × 5.51 × 0.91 inPublished:June 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195079078

ISBN - 13:9780195079074

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From Our Editors

This excellent book attempts to bridge the gulf separating medieval from modern sensibility with regard to issues of authority and judgment in biographical writing...Logical, thorough, and well-documented...It is now, and will be for some time to come, the most substantive study of the subject, providing a fair assessment of the work of earlier pioneers, establishing a far-ranging and comprehensive bibliography, and offering new, fresh insights on the writing, context, and reception of 'sacred biographies.'

Editorial Reviews

"A novel and captivating approach to the biographies of the saints!"--Jarl Fossum, University of Michigan