Paying Attention to Dreams in Early Medieval Normative Sources (400–900): Countering Non-Christian Practices or Negotiating Christian Dreaming?

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Early medieval Christian cultures found accepted and important roles for dreams and visions, while at the same time perpetuating learned traditions commending suspicion of dreams and warning of the dangers of the wrong kinds of dreams. This article examines prohibitions of the observation heeding or interpretation of dreams and their transmission in early medieval normative sources (canonical collections, penitentials and royal and episcopal capitularies). It argues that such prohibitions were less likely related to any non-Christian practices involving dreams but than they were rather motivated by a need to define conceptual places for Christian dreaming between concerns about dreams arising from patristic writings, chiefly those of Gregory the Great, and the importance of dreams in Christian cult and thought.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEarly Medieval Europe
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-25
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • Early Middle Ages
  • Penitentials
  • Canonical collections
  • Dreams
  • manuscripts

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