Old English Homilies (Homily) (1913 words)

Historical Context Essay

  • Mary Swan (University of Leeds)


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A homily is an essentially oral event, but the only evidence we have for Old English homilies is in the form of written texts. The term “homily” in this entry is used to refer to several different kinds of preaching texts: those which follow and expound the section of the Gospels, or pericope, which has just been read out in the Mass (sometimes classified by modern scholars as “homilies”), those which give guidance on good Christian behaviour and urge their audience to follow it (sometimes classified by modern scholars as “sermons”), and those which explain Christian doctrine to their audience (also sometimes classified by modern scholars as “sermons”).

Many Latin homilies survive in manuscripts from …

Swan, Mary. "Old English Homilies (Homily)". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 March 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1269, accessed 21 October 2016.]

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  1. Literary Genres and Modes