Water and the Word focuses on a genre of literature written for the education of the Carolingian clergy: Carolingian baptismal instructions. This literature has never been brought together and studied collectively in the context of the books in which it circulated.
This comprehensive study has three major objectives. One is to describe the codices in which the baptismal instructions are found, in order to show with what other kinds of material the baptismal tracts were associated and where, how, and by whom these codices were intended to be used. Another is to bring together the baptismal texts and study them systematically. Finally, a third objective is to interpret the Carolingian Reform in light of the baptismal instructions and the manuscripts in which they were copied.
Volume 1 of this two-volume set is devoted to analysis and interpretation of the material in volume 2. It is divided into three parts. The first part is concerned with the manuscript context of the baptismal instructions. In the second, the baptismal expositions themselves are analyzed. Part 3 of volume 1 offers some conclusions about the Carolingian Reform. Volume 2 contains the Latin text of sixty-six manuscripts, as well as descriptions, introductions, and a topical survey of the contents of these manuscripts. In its broadest context this study is about the Christianization of Europe -- not the superficial conversion of conquered peoples, but the slow replacement of one mindset with another that came about through the education of the people under the care of pastors.