The Censored Pulpit: Julian of Norwich as Preacher

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This dissertation consists of a homiletical reading of Julian of Norwich's life and work. While Julian is often classified as a mystic or theologian, she may be better categorized as a preacher in light of contemporary homiletical theory. Julian becomes decipherable as a preacher on a performative level when one attends to the apostolic dimensions of her anchoritic vocation and the particular ways John the Baptist serves as a model for medieval English anchoriticism. Her writings clearly fit within the ambit of the English medieval sermon genre, but censorship likely reduced her audience and contributed to her illegibility as a preacher. Julian displays proclamatory intent through direct statements and by aligning herself with celebrated preachers like Saint Cecelia, Mary Magdalene, and the Apostle Paul. Like Paul, Julian sees Jesus' body has her primary text, places human weakness at the center of her theology, and uses her confined body as a rhetorical tool. Yet, more than anything else love for the church drives her preaching, and this love enables her to connect with her fellow Christians and counter those forces that would silence her. For the contemporary church, Julian bequeaths a liberative example of preaching outside the pulpit. This dissertation concludes with a contemporary example of a figure engaged in such a vocation, the African-American church mother.


Doctor of Theology




McCray, Donyelle Charlotte (2014). The Censored Pulpit: Julian of Norwich as Preacher. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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