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Humanity and Sanctity: Anselm of Canterbury’s Letters to Women and Marian Writings as distinct expressions of a common theological vision

MILLS, MATTHEW,JAMES (2012) Humanity and Sanctity: Anselm of Canterbury’s Letters to Women and Marian Writings as distinct expressions of a common theological vision. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines together Anselm of Canterbury’s (c.1033-1109) correspondence with women and his Marian writings. He exchanged forty-one letters with eighteen female contemporaries, including Queen Matilda of England (c.1080-1118), and he wrote three prayers to the Virgin Mary, as well as referring to her in his treatises (De Incarnatione Verbi, Cur Deus Homo and De Conceptu Virginali). Both groups of texts are emotionally charged and theologically rich but they have rarely been considered together. This analysis builds upon recent scholarship, including the thought-provoking work of Sally N. Vaughn, who was among the first to suggest that the underlying ideas of Anselm’s letters to women were developed in contemplation of the Virgin Mary. Its central contention is that they are distinct expressions of a common theological vision which can be described as Christ-centred, emphasising virtue, especially virginity, and intent upon achieving salvation. In Anselm’s letters, his theological vision is expressed in relation to the moral strengths and frailties of his correspondents, borne of their humanity. In his Marian writings, it finds expression in the superlatively holy figure of Mary. This thesis aims to contribute to the body of knowledge that includes Vaughn and to show how the theological ideas of these texts relate to other tenets of Anselm’s theology. In the course of the work many interesting issues are explored, including: life as a spiritual journey, the nature of Anselm’s friendships with women, the use of romantic language in texts dealing with the struggle for salvation, the relationship of free will and grace, and Mary’s role in the outpouring of divine love in the economy of salvation.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:"Mills"; "MA"; "Anselm"; "Virgin Mary"; "Medieval letters"; "Anglo-Norman theology"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Jun 2012 14:19

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