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Translating Truth

Ambitious Images and Religious Knowledge in Late Medieval France and England

Aden Kumler


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Translating Truth is a novel and compelling account of how illuminated vernacular manuscripts transformed conceptions of Christian excellence in the later Middle Ages. Following the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which legislated a broad pastoral outreach to the laity, new forms of religious instruction played a decisive role in the lives of Christians throughout Europe. For royal and aristocratic laypeople, luxury manuscripts of spiritual instruction made sacred truths and religious knowledge accessible—and authorizing—as never before.

In this beautifully illustrated book, Aden Kumler examines how manuscript paintings collaborated and, at times, competed with texts as they translated the rudiments of Christian belief as well as complex theological teachings to new audiences on both sides of the English Channel. In the illuminations in these books, Kumler argues, elite laypeople were offered an ambitious vision of spiritual excellence and a greater role in the pursuit of their salvation.

Praise For Translating Truth: Ambitious Images and Religious Knowledge in Late Medieval France and England

"[A] sophisticated study . . . provides readers with a rich, erudite analysis."—J. Oliver, Choice
— J. Oliver

Shortlisted for the 2011 ACE Mercers' International Book Award (UK Award)
— ACE/Mercers' International Book Award

Yale University Press, 9780300164930, 290pp.

Publication Date: July 26, 2011

About the Author

Aden Kumler is an assistant professor in the Department of Art History and the College at the University of Chicago.