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Christianity's Quiet Success

The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul

Lisa Kaaren Bailey

Publication Year: 2010

Lisa Kaaren Bailey’s Christianity’s Quiet Success: The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul is the first major study of the Eusebius Gallicanus collection of anonymous, multi-authored sermons from fifth- and sixth-century Gaul. Bailey sheds new light on these sermons, which were strikingly popular and influential from late antiquity to the High Middle Ages, as the large number of surviving manuscripts attests. They were used for centuries by clergy as a preaching guide and by monks and pious lay people as devotional reading. Bailey’s analysis demonstrates the extent to which these stylistically simple and straightforward sermons emphasize consensus, harmony, and mutuality as the central values of a congregation. Preachers encouraged tolerance among their congregants and promoted a model of leadership that placed themselves at the center of the community rather than above it. These sermons make clear the delicate balancing act required of late antique and warly medieval pastors as they attempted to explain the Christian faith and also maintain the clerical control considered necessary for a universal church. The Eusebius Gallicanus collection gives us fresh insight inyo the process by which the Catholic Church influenced the lives of Western Europeans.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page

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Abbreviations and Note on Translations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I owe thanks to more people than I can possibly name and to those I do name, I owe more than I can possibly say. My advisor, Peter Brown, displayed all the qualities of the best pastor, bestowing kindness and encouragement when he perceived it was necessary, but always pushing me to think harder and do more. He is a leader...

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pp. 1-15

The sermons of the Eusebius Gallicanus collection were popular and important from late antiquity right through to the high Middle Ages. There are 447 manuscripts which contain copies of the sermons and their influence can be traced throughout Western Europe, yet today they are largely unknown. They are unknown because...

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1. Preaching in Late Antique Gaul

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pp. 16-28

Scholars encounter sermons as words on a page. They float in manuscripts and editions, far from the churches and libraries of late antique Gaul. They can seem abstract—ideas without an audience and without a context. It is easy to forget that these sermons were an integral part of the liturgy, and therefore of the ritualised acts through...

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2. The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection

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pp. 29-38

The Eusebius Gallicanus is a key example of an important genre: the anonymous collection, designed as a preaching handbook. As such it represents some widely practiced sermon models and preaching styles. We know that it was used and that it was popular.

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3. Building Community

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pp. 39-59

The first priority of Gallic pastors was to build Christian communities. Communities were there already, of course, but they were not necessarily Christian in identity or focused on the Church. Christianity was not indigenous to Gaul. It was an imported religion, laid over preexisting structures and relationships.

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4. Explaining the Faith

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pp. 60-81

Building community was a fundamental, but not a sufficient, aim for the authors of the Eusebius Gallicanus sermons. Unless the faithful were bound by a clear understanding of and appreciation for the articles of their faith, any community would be vulnerable to misguidance. Moreover, correct belief was a prerequisite for...

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5. Dealing with Sin

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pp. 82-104

The third pastoral challenge facing late antique clergy was what to do about sin. The presence of sin in the community threatened its coherence and identity. Some Christians argued, indeed, that sinners needed to be excluded from the Church so as to keep its pure character, while others argued that excommunication of sinners would...

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6. Sermons to Monks

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pp. 105-126

Our attention has so far been on the sermons to the laity, but at least ten sermons in the collection were directed to monks.

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pp. 127-130

The Eusebius Gallicanus sermons do not speak in a single voice. They are the work of more than one preacher and they speak to more than one audience. Although the compiler undoubtedly chose for similarity and ironed out some points of divergence, he was not concerned to create a perfectly coherent whole—this was...

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pp. 131-143

This book has focused on the primary moments in the life of the Eusebius Gallicanus sermons: their composition in the fifth century and their compilation into a collection in the sixth. Their story did not end there, however. The sermons survive in 447 manuscripts produced between the seventh century and the dawn of the age...


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pp. 144-145


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pp. 146-214


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pp. 215-254


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pp. 255-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780268075835
E-ISBN-10: 0268075832
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268022242
Print-ISBN-10: 0268022240

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2010