Traditionally, scholars have traced the origin of Christianity to a single source—the kingdom of God as represented in the message of the historical Jesus. Through a rhetorical critical analysis of one of the most important texts in early Christian literature (the Beelzebul controversy), Michael L. Humphries addresses the issue of Christian origins, demonstrating how the language of the kingdom of God is best understood according to its locative or taxonomic effect where the demarcation of social and cultural boundaries contributes to the emergence of this new social foundation.
The Beelzebul controversy exists in two versions— Q and Mark—and thereby allows the study to engage the import of the kingdom language at the point of juxtaposition between two distinct textual representations. This makes it possible to deal directly with the issue of the disparity of texts in the synoptic tradition. Humphries suggests that these two versions of the same controversy indicate two distinct social trajectories wherein the kingdom of God comes to mean something quite different in each case but that nevertheless they demonstrate a similarity in theoretical effect where the language contributes to the emergence of relatively distinct social formations.
Humphries establishes the Q and Markan versions of the Beelzebul controversy as relatively sophisticated compositions that are formally identified as elaborate chreiai (a literary form used in the teaching of rhetoric at the secondary and post-secondary level of GrecoRoman education) and that offer an excellent example of the rhetorical manipulation of language in the development of social and cultural identity.
The cross stirs intense feelings among Christians as well as non-Christians. Robin Jensen takes readers on an intellectual and spiritual journey through the two-thousand-year evolution of the cross as an idea and an artifact, illuminating the controversies—along with the forms of devotion—this central symbol of Christianity inspires.Jesus’s death on the cross posed a dilemma for Saint Paul and the early Church fathers. Crucifixion was a humiliating form of execution reserved for slaves and criminals. How could their messiah and savior have been subjected to such an ignominious death? Wrestling with this paradox, they reimagined the cross as a triumphant expression of Christ’s sacrificial love and miraculous resurrection. Over time, the symbol’s transformation raised myriad doctrinal questions, particularly about the crucifix—the cross with the figure of Christ—and whether it should emphasize Jesus’s suffering or his glorification. How should Jesus’s body be depicted: alive or dead, naked or dressed? Should it be shown at all?Jensen’s wide-ranging study focuses on the cross in painting and literature, the quest for the “true cross” in Jerusalem, and the symbol’s role in conflicts from the Crusades to wars of colonial conquest. The Cross also reveals how Jews and Muslims viewed the most sacred of all Christian emblems and explains its role in public life in the West today.
Christians talked, debated, and wrote dialogues in late antiquity and on throughout Byzantium. Some were philosophical, others more literary, theological, or Platonic; Aristotle also came into the picture as time went on. Sometimes the written works claim to be records of actual public debates, and we know that many such debates did take place and continued to do so. Dialoguing in Late Antiquity takes up a challenge laid down by recent scholars who argue that a wall of silence came down in the fifth century AD, after which Christians did not “dialogue.”Averil Cameron now returns to questions raised in her book Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire (1991), drawing on the large repertoire of surviving Christian dialogue texts from late antiquity to make a forceful case for their centrality in Greek literature from the second century and the Second Sophistic onward. At the same time, Dialoguing in Late Antiquity points forward to the long and neglected history of dialogue in Byzantium. Throughout this study, Cameron engages with current literary approaches and is a powerful advocate for the greater integration of Christian texts by literary scholars and historians alike.
Westward expansion on the North American continent by European settlers generated a flurry of writings on the frontier experience over the course of a hundred years. Asserting that the dominant ideology of America’s Manifest Destiny embodied a tense, often contradictory union of Christian and secular republican views of social progress, In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer investigates the ambivalence of the frontier as it was inscribed with redemptive, historical significance by a host of frontier writers.
Enlisting canonical and noncanonical sources, Joel Daehnke examines the manner in which the imagery of the human figure at work and play in the frontier landscape participated in the nationalist, “civilizing” project of westward expansion. While he acknowledges the growing secularization of American life, Professor Daehnke surveys the continuing claims of the Christian redemptive scheme as a powerful symbolic domain for these writers’ meditations on social progress and the potential for human perfectibility in the landscapes of the West.
Whether discussing the Edenic imagery of women’s gardens, the advocacy of an ethics of land use, or the affairs of fortune in the mining districts of Nevada, In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer presents an enlightening reexamination of an American ideology of progress and its enduring fascination with mission, Manifest Destiny, and the ends of history.
In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer is a welcome addition to the extended library of critical attention to the ideology, history, and literary traditions of the American frontier.
Triangles abounded in the intellectual culture of early modern Europe—the Christian Trinity was often mapped as a triangle, for instance, and perspective, a characteristic artistic technique, is based on a triangular theory of vision. Renaissance artists, for their part, often used shapes and lines to arrange figures into a triangle on the surface of a painting—a practice modern scholars call triangular composition. But is there secret meaning in the triangular arrangements artists used, or just a pleasing symmetry? What do triangles really tell us about the European Renaissance and its most beguiling works of art?
In this book, Rebecca Zorach takes us on a lively hunt for the triangle’s embedded significance. From the leisure pursuits of Egyptian priests to Jacopo Tintoretto’s love triangles, Zorach explores how the visual and mathematical properties of triangles allowed them to express new ideas and to inspire surprisingly intense passions. Examining prints and paintings as well as literary, scientific, and philosophical texts, The Passionate Triangle opens up an array of new ideas, presenting unexpected stories of the irrational, passionate, melancholic, and often erotic potential of mathematical thinking before the Scientific Revolution.
“Every significant religious system stands upon a sacred text. This text is indeed its temple. Inside, its heroes and their history are enshrined. Although leaders of varying degrees of divinity are always involved in the creation of a new sect, they usually have short lives, often come to bad ends, and their influence, diluted by disciples, soon disappears as water does in sand. What the leader leaves behind is Mein Kampf or its equivalent: his testament. Occasionally, by the indolent, an existent text is chosen, or a compilation selected—a golden treasury. From time to time, other writings may be dubbed divine, as though knighted. This is not a simple social thing, however. It is more important than a nation adding to its territories. Any addition to the divine canon will approve, proscribe, or admit new thoughts, new practices, and in consequence elevate different people to positions of privilege and power.”—William H. Gass
These essays and panel discussions made up The Writer and Religion Conference held at Washington University in St. Louis. The six essays, all by writers of international stature, were followed by panel discussions, with audience participation.
Browse our collection.
See BiblioVault's publisher services.
Files for college accessibility offices.
UChicago Accessibility Resources
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2024
The University of Chicago Press