Christian Materiality An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe

ISBN-10: 1935408100

ISBN-13: 9781935408109

Edition: 2011

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In the period between 1150 and 1550, an increasing number of Christians in western Europe made pilgrimage to places where material objects-among them paintings, statues, relics, pieces of wood, earth, stones, and Eucharistic wafers-allegedly erupted into life by such activities as bleeding, weeping, and walking about. Challenging Christians both to seek ever more frequent encounter with miraculous matter and to turn to an inward piety that rejected material objects of devotion, such phenomena were by the fifteenth century at the heart of religious practice and polemic. In Christian Materiality, Caroline Walker Bynum describes the miracles themselves, discusses the problems they presented for both church authorities and the ordinary faithful, and probes the basic scientific and religious assumptions about matter that lay behind them. She also analyzes the proliferation of religious art in the later Middle Ages and argues that it called attention to its materiality in sophisticated ways that explain both the animation of images and the hostility to them on the part of iconoclasts. Seeing the Christian culture of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as a paradoxical affirmation of the glory and the threat of the natural world, Bynum's study suggests a new understanding of the background to the sixteenth-century reformations, both Protestant and Catholic. Moving beyond cultural study of "the body"-a field she helped to establish-Bynum argues that Western attitudes toward body and person must be placed in the context of changing conceptions of matter itself. Her study has broad theoretical implications, suggesting a new approach to the study of material culture and religious practice.
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Book details

List price: $34.95
Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: Zone Books
Publication date: 4/4/2011
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 1.694
Language: English

Caroline Walker Bynum is University Professor at Columbia University. She is the author of Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336, and Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Body in Medieval Religion (Zone Books, 1991).

Nicholas of Cusa and the Hosts of Andechs
The Periodization of Holy Matter
Beyond �the Body�
Matter as Paradox
Visual Matter
Image Theory
The Materiality of Images: Two Theoretical Considerations
The Materiality of Images: Examples
Viewer Response
Materiality as Self-Referential
Material Iconography
The Material in the Visionary
Living Images
The Cross
The Power of Objects
Two Caveats
Definitions and Examples: Bodily Relics and Contact Relics
Definitions and Examples: Dauerwunder
Definitions and Examples: Sacramentals and Prodigies
The Theology of Holy Matter: Relics, Sacramentals, and Dauerwunder
Dissident and Heretical Critiques
The Example of Johannes Bremer
Holy Matter in Social Context
The Case of Wilsnack
Holy Pieces
Parts, Wholes, and Triumph over Decay
Theologians and the Problem of Putrefaction
The Contradiction: Fragmentation as Opportunity
A Comparison with Jewish Practice
The Iconography of Parts and Wholes: The Example of the Side Wound
Concomitance as Theory and Habit of Mind
Matter and Miracles
Three Examples
Elite and Popular: Again a Caveat
Theories of Miracle as a Way of Accessing Assumptions about Matter
The Historiography of Matter
Conceptions of Matter and Change
Change as Threat and Opportunity: A Reprise
Reducing Change to Appearance
Explaining Miracles by Limiting Change
Using Physiological Theories to Contain Miracles
Matter as Dynamic Substratum
Holy Matter as Triumph over Matter
Tht Materiality of Creation
Reinterpreting the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries
Jews, Muslims, and Christians
Theories, Medieval and Modern
Again the Paradox
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