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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

7th Wilhelm Levison Memorial Lecture and dinner: Jews in Early Medieval Penitential Literature: Between Hermeneutical Jewry and Real People

28th November 2014, 17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Dr Rob Meens (Utrect University)

Early medieval handbooks for confessors were composed from the sixth century up to the eleventh. They first appear in Insular circles and by the eleventh century are found in most parts of Western Europe. Wilhelm Levison discussed not only the role of the Anglo-Saxons in the development of this kind of literature but also their contribution to the distribution of these texts on the European mainland. This lecture will review how Jews are being depicted in these sources and what sort of behaviour is expected from Christians in their relations with Jewish people. The texts discussed show remarkable differences in their attitude to Jews, whether real or not. This variety of approaches can be related to the specific historical circumstances in which these texts originated.

Rob Meens (PhD Nijmegen University, 1994) is currently Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Utrecht. His work focuses on the cultural history of the early Middle Ages, with particular emphasis on the history of penance and penitential books, but also on topics such as violence, sacred space, food and Christianization. His publications include Het tripartite boeteboek, Overlevering en betekenis van vroegmiddeleeuwse biechtvoorschriften (Hilversum 1994) and Penance in Medieval Europe, 600-1200 (Cambridge 2014). He is general editor of the series Paenitentialiae Franciae, Italiae en Hispaniae Saeculi VIII-XI of Corpus Christianorum and edited The Bobbio Missal. Liturgy and Religious Culture in Merovingian Gaul (Cambridge 2004) with Yitzhak Hen and Texts and Identities in the Early Middle Ages (Vienna 2006) with Richard Corradini, Christina Pössel and Philip Shaw.

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception and there is an option to dine with the speaker in the Senate Suite at Durham Castle for £35pp

We are pleased to be able to offer five dining places for postgraduate students for a reduced price of £17pp: these will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. 

Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here to book.

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