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Wonder, derision and fear: the uses of doubt in Anglo-Saxon Saints’ lives
Adams, Sarah Joy

2007, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, English.
This dissertation examines the narrative of incidents of doubt in Anglo-Saxon hagiography. Anglo-Saxon hagiography shows a much wider range both in the ways doubt is depicted and the purposes for which it is deployed than that described by Michael Goodich’s work on doubt in the later Middle Ages. Anglo-Saxon hagiography has examples of not one, but four broad types of doubt: questions about the saint, accusations against the saint that sow doubt in the minds of others, self-doubt on the part of the saint, and postmortem doubt which derides the saint’s sanctity and assumes the saint is powerless to act. Not all hagiographies treat doubt as sinful. Furthermore, not all sinful doubt is punished; some hagiographers treat doubt much more leniently than others. Anglo-Saxon hagiographers had several patristic sources available to them which offered incidents upon which a theology of doubt could have been modeled, but they did not settle on one. Considered against their historic contexts, the moments in which hagiographers chose to use doubt and the ways in which they chose to portray it show a high correspondence between the concerns, agendas and pressures under which the hagiographer wrote and the way in which doubt is treated in the hagiography. Several hagiographers introduce or reproduce doubting incidents in ways which address threats to the cult of their saint. Other hagiographers, Bede and Ælfric, use incidents of doubt to model virtues or characteristics which they wish to spread through the English people. This reminds us that, despite hagiography’s investment in the universal and eternal, each hagiography was still directly bound to the concerns and issues of the time and place in which it was written. Those hagiographers who take the narrative risk of using doubt reveal those pressures and concerns under which they wrote.
Christopher Jones (Advisor)
335 p.

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Adams, S. (2007). Wonder, derision and fear: the uses of doubt in Anglo-Saxon Saints’ lives. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Adams, Sarah. "Wonder, derision and fear: the uses of doubt in Anglo-Saxon Saints’ lives." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2007. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 05 Jul 2015.

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Adams, Sarah "Wonder, derision and fear: the uses of doubt in Anglo-Saxon Saints’ lives." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2007. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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