God's wrath against the wrathful in medieval mendicant preaching

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Medieval depictions of God's wrath seem to run counter to Christian exhortations to patience and meekness. Such representations, however, not only sought to discourage anger but also deliberately expanded social norms governing the emotion. Latin moral treatises and preaching manuals written by Franciscan and Dominican friars in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries reveal how preachers presented the abstract moral teachings of scholastic authors in more concrete and familiar terms. Moralists taught that anger was a sin because it usurped God's prerogative to punish wrongdoing. Preachers presented God as a medieval patriarch, jealously defending his personal honour and his dependants from assault. Divine judgment was frequently represented as fire because it evoked the physical sensation of rage as well as the hell-fire that awaited the damned. Friars also presented God as a model of patience and mercy: In doing so, they extended social norms that encouraged forbearance and rewarded those who could control their temper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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