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Discerning Spirits: Divine and Demonic Possession in the Middle Ages (Conjunctions of Religion and Power in the Medieval Past)

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Publisher Comments:

Trance states, prophesying, convulsions, fasting, and other physical manifestations were often regarded as signs that a person was seized by spirits. In a book that sets out the prehistory of the early modern European witch craze, Nancy Caciola shows how medieval people decided whom to venerate as a saint infused with the spirit of God and whom to avoid as a demoniac possessed of an unclean spirit. This process of discrimination, known as the discernment of spirits, was central to the religious culture of Western Europe between 1200 and 1500. Attempts to make decisions about individuals who exhibited supernatural powers were complicated by the fact that the most intense exemplars of lay spiritually were women, and the "fragile sex" was deemed especially vulnerable to the snares of the devil. Ultimately, although a few late medieval women visionaries achieved the prestige of canonization, many more were accused of possession by demons. Caciola analyzes a broad array of sources from saints' lives to medical treatises, exorcists' manuals to miracle accounts, to find that observers came to rely on the discernment of bodies rather than seeking to distinguish between divine and demonic possession in purely spiritual terms.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780801473340
Author:
Caciola, Nancy
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Subject:
Medieval
Subject:
Sociology of Religion
Subject:
Christianity - Theology - Angelology
Subject:
Christian Theology - Angelology & Demonology
Subject:
Christianity-Demonology
Series:
Conjunctions of Religion and Power in the Medieval Past
Publication Date:
20060731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
327
Dimensions:
9.26x6.26x.85 in. 1.12 lbs.

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History and Social Science » World History » Medieval and Renaissance
Religion » Christianity » Church History » Medieval
Religion » Christianity » Demonology
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Western Religions » Social and Political Issues

Discerning Spirits: Divine and Demonic Possession in the Middle Ages (Conjunctions of Religion and Power in the Medieval Past) New Trade Paper
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Product details 327 pages Cornell University Press - English 9780801473340 Reviews:
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