This is a new in-depth study of Christianization among the Anglo-Saxons in the period c597-c730. It is the first work on the subject to combine a historical approach with the insights provided by ethnography and anthropology, in particular from that of the relatively new academic discipline of cognitive anthropology.By adopting an interdisciplinary approach, it studies the process of Christianization from a completely new basis, deepens significantly our knowledge of the subject and period and provides a fresh starting point for other studies of Christianization in medieval Europe. Using insights gained from various anthropological and ethnographical studies, the book outlines the differences between 'doctrinal' and 'imagistic' modes of religiosity and discusses how these can help our understanding of the fundamental characteristics of both Anglo-Saxon paganism (imagistic) and Christianity (doctrinal) religion. Another central feature of the book, which will contribute greatly to its impact, is its study of death and the dead.It explores the differences between Christian and non-Christian beliefs about the dead and the nature of the soul.
It is the first book to apply cognitive theories of ritual to an examination of Anglo-Saxon ritual sites and objects. At the same time, its theoretical approaches are grounded firmly in a historical context and it provides new insights into familiar sources such as Bede's "Ecclesiastical History".
Marilyn Dunn is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Glasgow and the author of The Emergence of Monasticism.
Introduction - Approaches to the Study of Paganism and Christianity Christianization in Gaul, Francia and Ireland between the Fourth and Sixth centuries: Communicating With the Dead and with the Living Gregory the Great and the Anglo-Saxons - the Beginning of a Missionary Strategy; Anglo-Saxon Paganism and the Living; Anglo-Saxon Paganism and the Dead; The Spread and Development of Christianity amongst the Anglo-Saxons; The Challenge of Mass Christianization; Epilogue.