Let us move forward some hundreds of years, and note another ingredient in religious writing of the distant past.
Maurice de Sully, who died in 1196, is the first known French preacher to give his sermons in the vernacular instead of in Latin. Some of his sermons were translated into Middle English, and some have been preserved in the Laud Manuscript (No. 471) in the Bodleian Library. They are written in the Kentish dialect of about 1250. Their formal elements are of the simplest kind, chiefly the form of organization: text, narrative, exposition, and application. Hear a very short sermon. (The translation from the Middle English is my own, so you must overlook any infelicities of expression.)
We read in the Holy Gospel of today that our Lord Jesus Christ went one time into a ship, and his disciples with him, into the sea. And so they were in the ship when there arose a great tempest of winds; and our Lord had laid himself down to sleep in the ship before ever the tempest arose. Then his disciples had great fear of this tempest, so that they awakened him and said to him, “Lord, save us; for we perish.” Now he well knew that they had no good faith in him, so said he unto them, “What fear you, folk of little belief?” So arose up our Lord, and took [seized; controlled] the wind and the sea, and it was quickly still. And the men that were in the ship saw the miracle, and so wondered greatly.
“This is a true miracle that the Gospel for today tells us; therefore shall your belief be the better strengthened because that our Lord may do such a miracle, and do it when he will. But it was needful, for them to be succored in their peril and for us to be saved in our need, that we call to him that he help us. And he will do it blithely, ...1
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