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Religious literature is a very unique type of art. Religious literature has existed from time in memorial and has had a major influence in world history. A good example of the relevance of religious literature is the major effect of Christianity during the renaissance period. Christianity had a major effect on the intellectual and social aspect of the renaissance period. During this period most of the literature was Christian. The religious writers and artists produced poetry, stories, and dialogues which were written both in vernacular and Latin language. Most of these works of were mainly devotional in nature, with the aim of changing lives. The purpose behind these works was to enable people t o lead holier lives (White 98).
Devotional writing has undergone many changes over the years. In the 1300s the growing usage of vernacular has helped to create new forms of religious literature. During the period of the renaissance, there are other factors that contributed to the changes in religious literature. These factors include the development of printing and humanism. Humanism is described as an intellectual movement which concentrates on people's needs and doesn't involve religious ideas. Recent works have continued to focus on the same major themes as those of the middle ages.
Religious literature is centered on devotion and exaltation of God. The early Christians wrote their literature with the main purpose of converting the audience and to edify God. The literature does not seek to please the audience like other pieces of literature. The aesthetic value of the work was not important to the writers. In Christian literature, adventure and romance were covered in apocryphal actions of the apostles as they explained their travels. Devotion also involved describing the lives of saints in a Hagiography. Hagiography was a type a literature that venerated the saints by describing their life. A hagiography is not the same as a biography in modern times. It is a work of devotion that describes the life carnations of the saint as a model of the virtues of Christ.
Devotion is not only found in Christian literature but also in other religions. In Indian literature like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have devotion as an important theme. The literature had highlights on morality and the sacred nature of the literature. Rama and Krishna who were heroes are incarnations of Vishnu. The idea of incarnations had the purpose of exalting local deities.
To maintain devotion, the writers of all religious literature highly avoided use of fiction. This use of nonfictional pose is very common among the various religions like Christianity, Jewish and Islam. The Bible is a popular religious text that advices the reader to live a life similar to that of Jesus Christ. Similar themes are expressed in works by Ludolph of Saxony and Thomas Kempis. The works of these writers was meant to enable believers to focus on Christ's suffering and to live holy lives. These ideas became common among the Catholics and the Protestants towards the end of the Renaissance. There was also a lot of literature that focused on devotion to the Virgin Mary. This type of literature was common among the Catholics. They wrote epics about the virgin in the form of poetry and meditations. The works described the role of Mary as a wife, mother, miracle worker and intercessor. This type of literature also contained works of devotion to Christ family (Mellinkoff 129).
Devotion included the concepts of isolation and confession. Isolation was greatly in contrast to the renaissance culture. The culture was mainly about city life. Isolation thus became a popular idea in the eyes of Christianity. However, this popularity did not last long because both Catholics and Protestants appreciated the importance of private and public worship. Confession was originated essentially from handbooks of the medieval priests to help them care for the souls of their flock. Confessionals were like biographies or dialogues (Farquhar 67).