Between God and Man
Six Sermons on the Priestly Office
When Innocent III became pope in 1198 he announced that he had been elevated to a position "between God and man." This audacious claim has often been quoted to characterize the papal monarchy over which he presided and the secular powers he wielded for the eighteen years of his controversial tenure. The sermons presented in this rich collection cast a clearer light on Innocent's concept of what his duties were as priest and bishop.
Innocent was renowned as a preacher, one who faithfully fulfilled that pastoral duty throughout his career. The group of sermons featured in this book represents only a small sample of his homiletic works. That they are almost exclusively devoted to spiritual concerns provides valuable insight into Innocent's papal priorities.
The six sermons included are: the inaugural sermon of Innocent's consecration, the opening sermon of Lateran Council IV, an anniversary sermon, two Roman Synod sermons, and another on the constitution of the priesthood. The major theme throughout the sermons is the responsibility of clergy to function as intermediaries between divinity and humanity, particularly in preaching and in administering the sacraments. Also included in the book is a translation of Innocent's treatise on preaching. In it Innocent gives practical advice to the preachers, whose office he believes to be the most important function of the priesthood.
The translators have done well in transmitting the clarity of Innocent's prose, which was often brilliant and sometimes poetic. They have provided an historical context for the sermons, as well as rhetorical analyses to enhance the sermons' relevance for the modern reader. As an example of Innocent's role as a pastor, spiritual director, and moral leader, this book is a valuable complement to the many studies of his secular and political achievements.
Corinne J. Vause is a former lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Frank C. Gardiner was Professor Emeritus of English at UCSB.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
"Corinne Vause and the late Frank C. Gardiner provide with this compact and lucid translation and succinct commentary a valuable introduction to the ministry of the extraordinary Pope Innocent III." — Harry Rosenberg, The Historian
"These readable translations should prove of interest especially to students of medieval sermons."—David Mengel, Religious Studies Review
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