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5 Earning Merit

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the arguments in the parts of the bulls, the arenga, narration and exhortation, and looks at the ideas behind these declarations of indulgences and the theology that justified them. The arguments for granting indulgences reveals how the crusader was believed to earn merit by going on crusade, and what was actually the meritorious thing about crusading. The most important theological themes with regard to earning merit in the papal bulls were the crusade as defence, service and imitation of Christ, an opportunity for penance, and as a test. These themes were handed on from one bull to another, and some of them were used more or less constantly over the whole period. The crusade as defence of Christ, the Church, and the Christian brothers is without question the most constant theme in the papal discourse on crusading.

Keywords: arenga; canonists; Christ; Christian brothers; earning merit; exhortation; indulgences; narration; papal bulls; theological themes

10.1163/9789004282841_006
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