Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Latest news Events PhD ceremonies

Reading by example

the communication of religious knowledge in the collationes of the Brothers of the Common Life
PhD ceremony:dr. P.H. (Pieter) Boonstra
When:September 02, 2021
Supervisors:S. (Sabrina) Corbellini, Prof Dr, prof. dr. C.G. (Catrien) Santing
Where:Academy building RUG

In the cities of the late medieval Low Countries, the Brothers of the Common Life organised their collationes (singular collatio). On Sundays and feast days they invited students and other interested laypeople to visit their house and listen to a devout text being read in the vernacular. Afterwards, the visitors were given some admonishing remarks and could have a private conversation with one of the Brothers. In this way, they were given an idea of what important religious figures like Augustine, Bernard, or Chrysostom had said on a given topic. This thesis has shown that the collatio was not simply a top-down communication of knowledge: instead, visitors were actively involved in the process as well. The outside world influenced the collatio in the house of the Brothers. And maintaining close personal ties with their lay visitors allowed the Brothers to most effectively communicate their message. This thesis also found that the collatio was more than merely listening to a text. Participants were offered a model to start reading as the Brothers read. They not only learned which texts were of importance, but also how they should be employed. They were instructed on how to combine quotations and excerpts to find new and relevant insights. In the collatio visitors were offered a peek into the Brothers’ own library, along with the invitation to join their textual community. The Brothers were reading by example, not only showing which texts to read, but also how to read them.