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Eighth-Century Anglo-Latin Ecclesiastical Attitudes to Dreams and Visions

Eighth-Century Anglo-Latin Ecclesiastical Attitudes to Dreams and Visions

By Jesse Keskiaho

Ennen Ja Nyt, Vol.4 (2004)

Introduction: In Anglo-Saxon England, Christianised from the late 6th century onwards by groups of Roman, Irish and Frankish missionaries, there was a flourishing monastic culture, which exerted its own missionary influence to the Continent by the early eighth-century.  The varied origins of their Christianity notwithstanding the eighth-century Anglo-Latin writers saw their culture as the result of the Mediterranean effort initiated by Pope Gregory the Great in 597. Christianisation hardly takes place simply between two monoliths, a church and a people, but can rather be understood as a layered process, the intraecclesiastical dimensions of which, due to the nature of our sources, are often the most visible to us. In this paper I will focus on Anglo-Latin attitudes to dreams and visions, a microscopic strand of the history of Christian thought in the early Middle Ages, to explore the ways in which the views of writers on this particular missionary frontier could be explained, and to briefly consider them in relation to our understanding of the formation and nature of early medieval Christendom.

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