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Book Reviews Medieval Artes Praedicandi: A Synthesis of Scholastic Sermon Structure. By Siegfried Wenzel. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015. ISBN 978-14426 -5010-7. Pp. xviii + 133. $45. In his review of Marianne G. Briscoe’s Artes praedicandi (1992), Siegfried Wenzel enumerated the challenges faced by scholars working with medieval preaching texts: ‘‘few are available in modern editions, fewer still in translation, and their terms are part of a Scholastic vocabulary that relies on technicalities of logic, rhetoric, and occasionally even metaphysics that are utterly foreign to the modern student. There is, then, a great need to supply medievalists with reliable and clear guidance in this field’’ (Speculum 69.4 [1994]: 1124). More than two decades later, Wenzel has accomplished exactly that in a succinct survey that characterizes the genre by its essential features, summarizes forty-two treatises, locates relevant scholarly discussion, edits a sample sermon, and outlines its structure according to the terms established in this volume. This book is an essential resource for those working with medieval theological writings, including sermons, homilies, penitential manuals, and prayers; for historians interested in scholasticism, church practice, and ecclesiastical discourse; for scholars working with classical rhetoric and source studies; and perhaps even for modern theologians and preachers who are fascinated with their craft. Wenzel introduces the ‘‘scholastic model’’ (xv) of preaching, also called the ‘‘modern, university, thematic, or scholastic sermon’’ (xv), as a form used in late medieval Western Europe employing a typical structure of thema, or ‘‘short biblical text’’ (xv), division of the thema into parts, and development, the expansion of these parts. Contrasting with the homily, this scholastic model was taught in the artes praedicandi, treatises designed primarily to ‘‘instruct beginning preachers in composing their sermons in conformity with the ‘modern’ usage’’ (xv). Although the general organization of these texts is similar, this close examination demonstrates that content, ‘‘approach,’’ and ‘‘style’’ (xvii) vary widely. Wenzel stresses that more of these treatises should be edited since only about thirty modern editions are available out of over 230 artes praedicandi. As Wenzel suggests in his review of Briscoe’s book and explicitly argues here, students and potential editors need a ‘‘precise knowledge’’ of the ‘‘structure, its concerns, and its vocabulary’’ (xvi). Additionally, Wenzel calls for more studies to discover how the treatises Christianity & Literature 2017, Vol. 66(4) 709–736 ! The Author(s) 2017 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/ journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0148333117690081 journals.sagepub.com/home/cal relate to each other and to their sources and to understand further how the genre developed over time. The first part of Wenzel’s book identifies and describes forty-two Latin treatises that offer a ‘‘technique (ars)’’ (3) for preaching. These texts cover a broad array of subjects including a ‘‘preacher’s moral life and study, his articulation and gestures while preaching, and the actual form of his sermon’’ (3). Generally Wenzel treats the treatises chronologically and identifies each author’s ecclesiastical associations; notes the treatise’s listing in Harry Caplan’s Medieval Artes Praedicandi: A HandList (1934), Caplan’s Supplementary Hand-List (1936), and Th.-M. Charland’s Artes Praedicandi: Contribution à l’histoire de la rhétorique au moyen âge (1936); discusses ‘‘the number of known manuscripts’’ (3); names any modern editions and translations; records ‘‘significant discussions by previous scholars’’ (4); and designates source citations. This valuable section offers readers an initial investigation of the primary sources and relevant scholarship and thereby provides direction for further study. For instance, the first entry on Guibert of Nogent identifies at least two ideas pervasive in these treatises: an emphasis on ‘‘the need to discuss vices . . . and to understand Scripture in its four senses’’ (4). Wenzel underscores the importance of Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca to the artes praedicandi along with other classical and patristic sources (including Horace, Ambrose, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine, Cassian, and Gregory the Great). The emphasis on classical rhetoric may be surprising to those more familiar with the homily: Thomas of Chobham notably ‘‘reconciles scholastic sermon structure with the precepts of classical rhetoric ’’ (7). Modern readers also may be interested in the attention these treatises give to the qualifications of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 709-712
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-28
Open Access
No
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