In Hildegard of Bingen, Gospel Interpreter, Beverly Mayne Kienzle presents and acquaints readers with Hildegard’s fifty-eight Homilies on the Gospels―a dazzling summa of her theology and the culmination of her visionary insight and scriptural knowledge. Part one probes how a twelfth-century woman became the only known female Gospel interpreter of the Middle Ages. It includes an examination of Hildegard’s epistemology―how she received her basic theological education and how she extended her knowledge through divine revelations and intellectual exchange with her monastic network. Part two expounds on several of Hildegard’s homilies, elucidating the theological brilliance that emanates from the creative exegesis she shapes to develop profound, interweaving themes. Hildegard eschewed the linear, repetitive explanations of her predecessors and created an organically coherent body of thought, rich with interconnected spiritual symbols. Part three deals with the wide-ranging reception of Hildegard’s works and her inspiring legacy, extending from theology to medicine. Her prophetic voice resounds in the morally urgent areas of creation theology and the corruption of church and political leadership. Hildegard decries human disregard for the earth and its lust for power. Instead, she advocates the unifying capacity of nature, “viridity,” that fosters the interconnectedness of all creation.
Beverly Mayne Kienzle retired in 2015 as the John H. Morison Professor at Harvard Divinity School and is currently an affiliate of the Harvard Standing Committee on Medieval Studies.
List of Illustrations
The Region of Hildegard of Bingen (Map)
Chapter One: Hildegard’s Life and Works
Chapter Two: Epistemology: From Revelation to Conversation
Chapter Three: The Homilies on the Gospels
Chapter Four: Hildegard’s Reception and Legacy
About the Author
This exciting and accessible study of Hildegard of Bingen, as the only known woman gospel interpreter of the middle ages, provides both a compelling general introduction for new readers and insightful scholarship on her homilies for experienced academics. As the author of five additional books and numerous articles on Hildegard of Bingen, Beverly Mayne Kienzle addresses a wide variety of themes, including creation, salvation, the struggle with evil, and the inner life of the soul, essential to an understanding of the saint’s legacy as an exegete and spiritual commentator. Kienzle locates Hildegard’s world, her experience as a preacher, and her largely female monastic audience, within the larger medieval preaching tradition. Moreover, the chapter on Hildegard’s reception advances her legacy as one of the most remarkable women in the history of Christianity. Hildegard of Bingen: Gospel Interpreter is an integral contribution to extant literature devoted to this great saint and will without a doubt will encourage a new generation of followers.
This new guide to Hildegard's life and works places her role as an exegete, an interpreter of the Gospel, at its centre. Particularly welcome is the insightful and balanced discussion of Hildegard's educational restrictions and opportunities, and of her life-long 'continuing-education'. Hildegard's original approach to the homily is shown to lie in the use of the Gospel text to construct parallel narratives that dramatically teach moral and allegorical insights. While Hildegard is indebted to both patristic and medieval interpreters, her homilies are shown to reinforce and deepen the theological vision treated in all of her work.
In this book, Beverly Kienzle continues her important work of Hildegard of Bingen as an exegete and biblical theologian. Throughout this volume, she reveals Hildegard as both firmly grounded in the Western Latin theological tradition while revealing her to be an innovative theologian for both her own era and today. Written with clarity and elegance, this book is an ideal entry point into Hildegard the theologian for students and scholars.
Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century woman who discovered her voice only in mid life, still speaks to us today. In this volume, Beverly Kienzle introduces this fascinating woman with clarity and scholarship, focusing in particular on Hildegard’s Homilies on the Gospels. Kienzle explains the astonishing way in which this visionary abbess broke from convention in retelling the parables as stories about creation and human potential. She also documents how this extraordinary woman was rediscovered in the modern world, becoming recognised in 2012 as a doctor of the Church.