Christian Materiality

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 4/4/2011
  • Publisher: Mit Pr
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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.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 13
Introductionp. 15
Nicholas of Cusa and the Hosts of Andechsp. 15
The Periodization of Holy Matterp. 19
Materialityp. 25
Beyond ˘the Body÷p. 31
Matter as Paradoxp. 34
Visual Matterp. 37
Image Theoryp. 44
The Materiality of Images: Two Theoretical Considerationsp. 53
The Materiality of Images: Examplesp. 61
Viewer Responsep. 65
Materiality as Self-Referentialp. 66
Material Iconographyp. 82
The Material in the Visionaryp. 101
Living Imagesp. 105
The Crossp. 112
Conclusionp. 121
The Power of Objectsp. 125
Two Caveatsp. 127
Definitions and Examples: Bodily Relics and Contact Relicsp. 131
Definitions and Examples: Dauerwunderp. 139
Definitions and Examples: Sacramentals and Prodigiesp. 145
The Theology of Holy Matter: Relics, Sacramentals, and Dauerwunderp. 154
Dissident and Heretical Critiquesp. 163
The Example of Johannes Bremerp. 165
Holy Matter in Social Contextp. 167
The Case of Wilsnackp. 171
Conclusionp. 175
Holy Piecesp. 177
Parts, Wholes, and Triumph over Decayp. 178
Theologians and the Problem of Putrefactionp. 187
The Contradiction: Fragmentation as Opportunityp. 192
A Comparison with Jewish Practicep. 194
The Iconography of Parts and Wholes: The Example of the Side Woundp. 195
Concomitance as Theory and Habit of Mindp. 208
Conclusionp. 215
Matter and Miraclesp. 217
Three Examplesp. 220
Elite and Popular: Again a Caveatp. 224
Theories of Miracle as a Way of Accessing Assumptions about Matterp. 227
The Historiography of Matterp. 230
Conceptions of Matter and Changep. 231
Change as Threat and Opportunity: A Reprisep. 239
Reducing Change to Appearancep. 241
Explaining Miracles by Limiting Changep. 243
Using Physiological Theories to Contain Miraclesp. 247
Matter as Dynamic Substratump. 250
Holy Matter as Triumph over Matterp. 256
Tht Materiality of Creationp. 259
Conclusionp. 267
Reinterpreting the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuriesp. 269
Jews, Muslims, and Christiansp. 273
Theories, Medieval and Modernp. 280
Again the Paradoxp. 284
Notesp. 287
Indexp. 399
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