One answer to solve the historian's problem of the numerous manuscripts of 13th-century sermons is to orientate editorial work to historical research ideas. From the middle decades of the 13th century, marriage sermons were ‘broadcast’ to a vast public, clerical but also and more especially lay. Preaching was becoming a system of mass communication, thanks mainly to the friars. Their model sermons were produced in many manuscripts and each sermon could be preached repeatedly to different audiences. Sermons tended to be about marriage when the Gospel of the marriage feast of Cana was read. Much of this marriage preaching would be about marriage as metaphor or symbol. The marriage symbolism of 13th-century sermons would have drawn strength from the social experience of all sorts of listeners. It was also supported by the positive treatment of ‘real’ marriage in the same or similar sermons. Finally, the symbolism was reinforced by the social practice of marriage.
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