The Evangelical Rhetoric of Ramon Llull. Lay Learning and Piety in the Christian West around 1300by Mark D. Johnston (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 83, Number 2, April 1997
- pp. 318-319
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- Additional Information
318BOOK REVIEWS tains three appendices and an index. In sum, the whole ofthe project is a complete presentation of the Bronescombe register and pertinent documents.The register runs chronologicaUy rather than topicaUy, the commonplace business of disposing ecclesiastical benefices standing alongside various other recorded activities such as letters and memoranda, the appointment of commissions and church dedications.WhUe there is a tendency in the earUer forms ofregistration to lose some records (here, dispensations, ordinations, and visitations), the advantage ofthe chronological form is an appreciation of the daUy press and variety of business involved in diocesan administration. This volume begins with Bronescombe's election and ends in 1263, barely a third ofthe way through his pontificate, but aUeady we gain considerable insight into the bishop's administrative and pastoral priorities, the events which occurred in his early years as ordinary , and something of the style with which he governed his diocese. This volume also contains a thorough introduction which places Bronescombe and his register in the larger historical context of thirteenth-century Exeter. Dr. Robinson's work is impressive and the result of many years' labor; it is a significant contribution to the ecclesiastical history of Exeter and the English thirteenth century. William J. Dohar, C.S.C. University ofNotre Dame The Evangelical Rhetoric of Ramon Llull. Lay Learning and Piety in the Christian West around 1300. By Mark D.Johnston. (NewYork: Oxford University Press. 1996. Pp. xiii, 274. $4995.) Among Professor Mark D.Johnston's many earUer studies on Ramon LIuU, one should cite particularly The Spiritual Logic ofRamon Llull (Oxford, 1987).The present work proposes "to examine the theories of eloquence expounded in [LluU's] works on rhetoric and preaching . . . understood Ui comparison to other extant texts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries."Johnston's command of recent scholarship on wide areas of medieval culture has enabled him to carry out this dUficult task. After a brief introduction, we have a chapter on LluU's Art offinding truth. This is needed because in LIuU rhetoric and preaching, as "arts of language," depend on the acceptance ofhisArt.Johnston's discussion of the several hundred model sermons that appear in dUferent LuUian coUections shows how closely they are linked to it. Johnston shows that LIuU interprets the world through his doctrine that all things participate in and resemble their Creator. He continually urges preachers to emphasize the importance of beauty, order, and propriety (the appropriate use of words) Ui order to convey this central lesson. LluU's basic concern with the evangelization of the only superficiaUy Christian world of his time is weU brought out by Johnston.The conclusion to the book studies the transmission BOOK REVIEWS319 of LluU's different works on preaching and of his Rethorica nova of 1301 (edited by Johnston, Davis, California, 1994). Employing the whole range of LluU's many works, whether in Latin or Catalan , Johnston shows how the LuUian system evolves, perhaps because of increasing contacts with scholastic learning.Among the many points made in the book one may cite the comparison (p. 15) between LluU's use of"spiritual aUegory " (moraUzation) and that practised by groups such as the Joachimists of southern France. Johnston's view f. 127) that LluU's sermons would probably have satisfied the audience ofleading ItaUan preachers ofthe day can be related to the evidence in LluU's contemporary Vita of his remarkable success in preaching the crusade in 1308 in Pisa and Genoa. Given the hard work that has gone into this weU documented study, it may seem invidious to make three specific criticisms. One concerns the lack of direct study of LIuU manuscripts as opposed to reliance on brief descriptions Ui modern editions of the Latin works.The statement (p. 181) that the Liberpraedicationis contra Judaeos only survives Ui two late manuscripts—there are five and one is fifteenth century—is an indication here.The tendency to undervalue LluU's originaUty is more serious. Johnston speaks f. 185) of the "overwhelmingly commonplace character of the doctrines expounded in the Great Art."There seems to be a confusion between LluU's sources,which may often be commonplace, and the unique use he made of them. Lastly, the statement...