medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Marjorie Greene wrote:

>Many thanks for all the information about the
>Harrowing of Hell. Your generous responses have been
>duly forwarded to my colleague.

In addition to Tom's and Otfried's excellent book-length suggestions, a
possibly more readily available if much shorter treatment can be found in
J. N. D. Kelly's _Early Christian Creeds_, in his chapter on the Apostles'
Creed (pp. 378ff in the 3rd edition).

>I'm curious about the name "Shrove Tuesday." The verb
>"to shrive" means "to forgive," no? Does the name come
>from the fact that one will eventually have to be
>shriven of all the activity of the day? Also, is
>"shrove" not simply the past tense of the verb and
>inappropriate in that grammatical usage?

Although I don't have the revised OED and therefore don't know whether
recent (i.e., from the last 80 or so years) research has turned up any new
information, the original article on shrovetide (whence Shrove Tuesday)
says on the etymology:

Of obscure origin.

The first element is undoubtedly related to shrive and refers to the custom
of being shriven in preparation for Lent.

An OE *scra/f, shriving, confession, from scri/fan, to shrive, would
account phonologically for shrove-, but, if the form actually existed, the
absence of evidence for this group of words until the 15th century is
remarkable. (Other early names for the season were FASTENS-EEN, FAST-GONG,

(end quote)

The "gong" element is a variant of "gang," going.

I hope that the above on-topic response will permit an indulgence to post a
link to a less-than-serious discussion of Shrove Tuesday rituals extracted
from the Liturgy-l list from some 8 years back.


John McChesney-Young  ** [log in to unmask] **  Berkeley, California, USA

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