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date: 02 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines three ways in which ideas about reproduction loomed large in medieval Christian culture: its relation to ideas about sexuality and nature, the somewhat overlapping topic of its relation to the sacrament of marriage, and the use of fictive parenthood or reproductive metaphors in Christian thought. Medieval Judaism is used as a point of comparison to highlight what is, or is not, distinctive about Christianity. The chapter argues that although virginity and celibacy got a great deal of literary attention, reproduction was the expectation for most medieval people and a tension about its value shaped their world. The period from 1100 to 1500 is the main focus but earlier writings, especially those of St Augustine, were highly influential.

Keywords: Augustine, Judaism, marriage, medieval, nature, reproduction, sacraments, same-sex, virginity

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