Compelling God: Theories of Prayer in Anglo-Saxon England

Compelling God: Theories of Prayer in Anglo-Saxon England

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By Stephanie Clark
Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2017
World Rights
344 Pages
ISBN 9781487501983
Available Dec 2017
Online discount: 25%
 $85.00    $63.75

While prayer is generally understood as "communion with God" modern forms of spirituality prefer "communion" that is non-petitionary and wordless. This preference has unduly influenced modern scholarship on historic methods of prayer particularly concerning Anglo-Saxon spirituality.

In Compelling God, Stephanie Clark examines the relationship between prayer, gift giving, the self, and community in Anglo-Saxon England. Clark’s analysis of the works of Bede, Ælfric, and Alfred utilizes anthropologic and economic theories of exchange in order to reveal the ritualized, gift-giving relationship with God that Anglo-Saxon prayer espoused. Anglo-Saxon prayer therefore should be considered not merely within the usual context of contemplation, rumination, and meditation but also within the context of gift exchange, offering, and sacrifice. Compelling God allows us to see how practices of prayer were at the centre of social connections through which Anglo-Saxons conceptualized a sense of their own personal and communal identity.

Stephanie Clark is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Oregon.

Chapter 1: The Anglo-Saxon Inheritance
Chapter 2: Gratiam pro gratia: Bede on Prayer
Chapter 3: Does Prayer Work? The Prayers of King Alfred
Chapter 4: Ælfric and the Community of Prayer