A New History of the Sermon
From the origins of Christianity sermons have been the primary vehicles for combating popular beliefs and practices, for educating the laity in the basics of Christian doctrine and for motivating them to self-improvement. As time went on the education, inspiration, and indoctrination of preachers became a primary concern of Christian reforming movements, governments and the church. Hitherto sermons have largely been studied for the information which they contain on theological or exegetical method. Yet preaching in the history of the Church was an interactive process, shaped not only by the wishes of civil and ecclesiastical powers but also, more importantly, by the expectations and demands of parishioners themselves -- which they often freely expressed.
The three volumes of essays in this series examine this social dialectic of preaching - both orthodox and heterodox - in early Christianity and the Byzantine world, in Medieval and Early Modern Europe and in the period of the rapid expansion of Christianity beyond Europe in the 16th to 18th centuries. Themes discussed include the world views and pastoral concerns of preachers and their audiences, the composition of such audiences, the circumstances of preaching, the subject-matter of sermons, the different genres of sermons, their preparation and transmission, the dynamic we can discern between a preacher and his congregation, the use of tropes from other literary genres, how oral and written cultures meet in sermons, and the adaptations made to style and presentation in differing political communities and social landscapes.
It is hoped that the series will fill many of the lacuna which exist in the critical/analytical study of sermons and throw light on a range of unexplored areas in the history Christian experience.