Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Raymond Mentzer

Abstract

Our self and communal identity is important for everyday life. Our identity determines how we act, where we live, who we love, and how we worship. Identity is especially important in a religious context, including the religious community of the Waldensians. Do the present day Waldensians share an identity with their medieval ancestors; how is this identity constructed? I argue that the medieval and modern day Waldensians create a similar cultural and religious identity which is constructed through three specific practices: the commitment to the vita apostolica, medical practices, and education and the perpetuation of a historical narrative. Although these practices have evolved with modernity the summation of the practices form a coherent communal identity across time.

In order to demonstrate the shared cultural and religious identity of the Waldensians of the Middle Ages and present day I examined inquisitorial documents, religious tracts, pamphlets, and conducted interviews. I have set these findings in the larger social context of the Middle Ages and Modern Era in order to show that although similarities of practice exist with other groups the summation of the three specific practices especially with the creation and perpetuation of a historical narrative creates a unique communal identity. This is important for future examination of other religious communities and how similar communal identities do not negate uniqueness of the said community. This study also shows that the evolution of practices does not detract from the continuation of communal identity. Thus although the cultural practices of the Waldensians evolved over time the communal identity remained strong and continues to thrive today.

Public Abstract

Our self and communal identity is important for everyday life. Our identity determines how we act, where we live, who we love, and how we worship. Identity is especially important in a religious context, including the religious community of the Waldensians. I asked the question: do the present day Waldensians share an identity with their medieval ancestors and if so how is this identity created? I argue that the medieval and modern day Waldensians create a similar cultural and religious identity which is constructed through three specific practices: the commitment to preaching and poverty, medical practices, and education and the perpetuation of a historical narrative. Although these practices have evolved over time taken together the practices form an identity which remains strong.

In order to demonstrate the shared cultural and religious identity of the Waldensians of the Middle Ages and present day I examined inquisitorial documents, religious tracts, pamphlets, and conducted interviews. I have set these findings in the larger social context of the Middle Ages and Modern Era in order to show that although similarities of practice exist with other groups when taken together the cultural practices of the Waldensians create a unique communal identity. This is important for future examination of other religious communities and how similar communal identities do not negate uniqueness of the said community. This study also shows that the evolution of practices does not detract from the continuation of communal identity.

Keywords

publicabstract, Medieval Heresy, Valdese NC, Waldensians

Pages

vii, 69 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 67-69).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Ashley Nicole Tickle

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Religion Commons

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