Sin in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

October 2012
8 black and white, 3 line illustrations
358 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781903153413
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
York Medieval Press
BISAC REL108020, HIS037010

Sin in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

The Tradition of the Seven Deadly Sins

Edited by Richard G. Newhauser, Susan J. Ridyard

A fresh consideration of the enduring tradition of the Seven Deadly Sins, showing its continuing post-medieval influence.
The tradition of the seven deadly sins played a considerable role in western culture, even after the supposed turning-point of the Protestant Reformation, as the essays collected here demonstrate. The first part of the book addresses such topics as the problem of acedia in Carolingian monasticism; the development of medieval thought on arrogance; the blending of tradition and innovation in Aquinas's conceptualization of the sins; the treatment of sin in the pastoral contexts of the early Middle English Vices and Virtues and a fifteenth-century sermon from England; the political uses of the deadly sins in the court sermons of Jean Gerson; and the continuing usefulness of the tradition in early modern England. In the second part, the role of the tradition in literature and the arts is considered. Essays look at representations of the sins in French music of the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries; in Dante's Purgatorio; in a work by Michel Beheim in pre-Reformation Germany; and in a 1533 play by the German Lutheran writer Hans Sachs. New interpretations are offered of Gower's "Tale of Constance" and Bosch's Tabletop of the Seven Deadly Sins. As a whole, the book significantly enhances our understanding of the multiple uses and meanings of the sins tradition, not only in medieval culture but also in the transition from the medieval to the early modern period.

Richard G. Newhauser is Professor of English and Medieval Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe; Susan J. Ridyard is Professor of History and Director of the Sewanee Medieval Colloquium, The University of the South, Sewanee.

Contributors: Richard G. Newhauser, James B. Williams, Kiril Petkov, Cate Gunn, Eileen C. Sweeney, Holly Johnson, Nancy McLoughlin, Anne Walters Robertson, Peter S. Hawkins, Carol Jamison, Henry Luttikhuizen, William C. McDonald, Kathleen Crowther.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Understanding Sin: Recent Scholarship and the Capital Vices - Richard G. Newhauser
Working for Reform: Acedia, Benedict of Aniane and the Transformation of Working Culture in Carolingian Monasticism - James B. Williams
The Cultural Career of a 'Minor' Vice: Arrogance in the Medieval Treatise in Sin - Kiril Petkov
Vices and Virtues: A Reassessment of Stowe MS 34 - Cate Gunn
Aquinas on the Seven Deadly Sins: Tradition and Innovation - Eileen C. Sweeney
A Fifteenth-Century Sermon Enacts the Seven Deadly Sins - Holly Johnson
The Deadly Sins and Contemplative Politics: Gerson's Ordering of the Personal and Political Realms - Nancy A. McLoughlin
'These Seaven Devils': The Capital Vices on the Way to Modernity - Richard G. Newhauser
The Seven Deadly Sins in Medieval Music - Anne Walters Robertson
The Religion of the Mountain: Handling Sin in Dante's Purgatorio - Peter S. Hawkins
John Gower's Shaping of 'The Tale of Constance' as an Exemplum contra Envy - Carol Jamison
Through Boschian Eyes: An Interpretation of the Prado Tabletop of the Seven Deadly Sins - Henry M. Luttikhuizen
Singing Sin: Michel Beheim's 'Little Book of the Seven Deadly Sins', a German Pre-Reformation Religious Text for the Laity - William C. McDonald
Raising Cain: Vice, Virtue and Social Order in the German Reformation - Kathleen M. Crowther


Provides many interesting and valuable discussions of specific texts (and occasionally visual and musical sources), and the ways in which these employ the concept of sin and particularly that of the seven capital sins.[It] throws new light on the way people in the medieval and early modern world thought about sins, but also on how sins were good to think with. HISTORY

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