In the Mirror of the Prodigal Son

The Pastoral Uses of a Biblical Narrative, c. 1200-1550

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Pietro Delcorno


In the Mirror of the Prodigal Son provides a comprehensive history of the function of the parable of the prodigal son in shaping religious identity in medieval and Reformation Europe. By investigating a wealth of primary sources, the book reveals the interaction between commentaries, sermons, religious plays, and images as a decisive factor in the increasing popularity of the prodigal son. Pietro Delcorno highlights the ingenious and multifaceted uses of the parable within pastoral activities and shows the pervasive presence of the Bible in medieval communication. The prodigal son narrative became the ideal story to convey a discourse about sin and penance, grace and salvation. In this way, the parable was established as the paradigmatic biography of any believer.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Pietro Delcorno is NWO Rubicon postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Leeds. He has published on medieval preaching and religious theatre, including Lazzaro e il ricco epulone: Metamorfosi di una parabola fra Quattro e Cinquecento (Il Mulino, 2014).

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments