The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages (The Wiles Lectures)

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9780521702553: The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages (The Wiles Lectures)
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How did people of the medieval period explain physical phenomena, such as eclipses or the distribution of land and water on the globe? What creatures did they think they might encounter: angels, devils, witches, dogheaded people? This fascinating book explores the ways in which medieval people categorized the world, concentrating on the division between the natural and the supernatural and showing how the idea of the supernatural came to be invented in the Middle Ages. Robert Bartlett examines how theologians and others sought to draw lines between the natural, the miraculous, the marvelous and the monstrous, and the many conceptual problems they encountered as they did so. The final chapter explores the extraordinary thought-world of Roger Bacon as a case study exemplifying these issues. By recovering the mentalities of medieval writers and thinkers the book raises the critical question of how we deal with beliefs we no longer share.

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Review:

'... engaging, accessible and thought-provoking ... The book eloquently indicates the complexity of medieval ideas.' BBC History Magazine

'...this is an engaging and readable book that presents much food for thought, both for medievalists and for non-specialist readers.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages is sure to interest scholars and students from a range of fields. In this work, Bartlett has offered an encouraging model of how academic writing can not only spur the intellect but also stir the imagination and spark humor.' Christopher LeCluyse, H-German

'The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages is a handsomely produced, wide-ranging collection on medieval scientific and theological understandings of nature and the supernatural, originally given as the four Wiley lectures in Belfast and retaining their accessible but magisterial tone.' The Times Literary Supplement

'... full of pertinent and fascinating material, strikingly illustrated with photographs, and richly providing a sustained broad view of key, mysterious outlooks and images that developed and declined over long periods.' The Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Book Description:

An exploration of the way in which the world was categorized in the medieval period, concentrating on the division between the natural and the supernatural. This book discusses the mentalities of medieval writers and thinkers and raises the question of how to deal with beliefs we may not share.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2008
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