The rhetoric of Good Friday sermons in 14th-century Bohemia

The rhetoric of Good Friday sermons in 14th-century Bohemia: Defining norms, commonplaces, and discrepancies

8th session of CEFRES in-house seminar 2022-2023.
Through the presentation of works in progress, CEFRES’s Seminar aims at raising and discussing issues about methods, approaches or concepts, in a multidisciplinary spirit, allowing everyone to confront her or his own perspectives with the research presented.

Location: CEFRES Library and online
: Tuesday 9th of May 2023, 16:30
: English
: cefres[@]

Olga Kalashnikova (PhD candidate at CEU /  associated with CEFRES)
Discussant: Eloïse Adde (CEU)


Holy Week – and Good Friday in particular – represents a crucial period of the Lenten season, as it marks the peak of Christian devotion. During Holy Week, charismatic preachers of the Middle Ages sought to profoundly influence the daily life and religious behavior of the people. Bohemian preachers retold the story of Christ’s Passion to evoke an emotional response from listeners (and sometimes readers) and invite them to repent and confess their sins. In some instances, preachers experimented with available sources and theological and rhetorical approaches to the topic to reflect on the growing devotion to the Passion and sacraments in the region and even criticise moral decay of the Bohemian laity and clergy.

My presentation will focus on intellectual background and shared discourse on Christ’s Passion that surrounded fourteenth-century Bohemian preachers while composing their Good Friday sermons at desk. In addition, I will discuss the rationale, structure, methodology, and goals of my PhD project, which ultimately aims to critically examine Good Friday preaching in Bohemia in 1330-1380, identify the peculiarities (transgressions) – of the Bohemian corpus in the broader European context, and classify some theological, hermeneutical, pastoral, and rhetorical “commonplaces” (norms) typical for the genre.

See the complete program of the seminar here.