Approaching the Bible in medieval England

By Eyal Poleg

Approaching the Bible in medieval England


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9374-0
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: June 2016
  • BIC Category: Religion, European history: medieval period, middle ages, CE period up to c 1500, History & Archaeology, RELIGION / History, HISTORY / Medieval, Humanities / History of religion, Humanities / Medieval history, Medieval History
  • Series: Manchester Medieval Studies


How did people learn their Bibles in the Middle Ages? Did church murals, biblical manuscripts, sermons or liturgical processions transmit the Bible in the same way?

This book unveils the dynamics of biblical knowledge and dissemination in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century England. An extensive and interdisciplinary survey of biblical manuscripts and visual images, sermons and chants, reveals how the unique qualities of each medium became part of the way the Bible was known and recalled; how oral, textual, performative and visual means of transmission joined to present a surprisingly complex biblical worldview. This study of liturgy and preaching, manuscript culture and talismanic use introduces the concept of biblical mediation, a new way to explore Scriptures and society. It challenges the lay-clerical divide by demonstrating that biblical exegesis was presented to the laity in non-textual means, while the 'naked text' of the Bible remained elusive even for the educated clergy.


'Approaching the Bible in medieval England is an absorbing and suggestive book. It is richly interdisciplinary, informed by a breadth of knowledge and scholarship. As well as its productive model for reception history it offers a compelling account of the relationship between texts and practice in the religious culture of later medieval England.'
Julia Boffey, Queen Mary, University of London, Book of the Month, February 2014

'The volume makes an important contribution to our understanding of the use of the Bible in medieval England and its most lasting effect, as I have indicated, is to provoke questions and prompt a host of ideas for further research.'
Dr Richard Marsden, Reviews in History, Reviews, May 2014

'Poleg's study is a must-read for scholars of liturgy, preaching, manuscripts, and legal history in England and beyond.'
Diane J. Reilly, Indiana University, Sharp News Vol 23 No. 4, 1 December 2014

'Approaching the Bible is a valuable introduction to the practical role of religion in everyday life in late medieval England, of great interest both to religious historians and to scholars of late medieval literature.'
Anna Wilson, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies Volume 45 (2014), 1 January 2014


1. The Bible and liturgy: Palm Sunday processions
2. The Bible as talisman: textus and oath-books
3. Paratext and meaning in late medieval Bibles
4. Preaching the Bible: three Advent Sunday sermons
Appendix: A survey of Late Medieval Bibles


Eyal Poleg is Lecturer in Material History, 1200-1700, at Queen Mary University of London

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