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The Early Christian Book (CUA Studies in Early Christianity)

William E. Klingshirn

Publication Year: 2012

Written by experts in the field, the essays in this volume examine the early Christian book from a wide range of disciplines: religion, art history, history, Near Eastern studies, and classics.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Series: CUA studies in early Christianity


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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p. ix-ix

The papers in this collection originated in a conference held at the Catholic University of America from June 6 to June 9, 2002, under the auspices of the Center for the Study of Early Christianity. The call for papers stated the organizing principle of the conference: “Christianity is assuredly a ‘Religion of the Book.’ It is also ...


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p. xi-xi

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Introduction: From Binding to Burning

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pp. 1-9

Books in a bookcase present a façade. Binding, typeface, and layout carry a message of their own, inspiring reverence or pleasing the eye, presenting themselves as examples of this category or that. Yet books are also penetrable. To take one down, to open it and read, is to enter another world, to journey elsewhere, to ...

I. Making the Book

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1. The Word Made Visible: The Exterior of the Early Christian Book as Visual Argument

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pp. 13-47

In a paper entitled “The Beginnings of Biblical Illustration,” first published in 1999, I attempted to survey all the surviving biblical manuscripts that contain images made up to about the mid-seventh century.1 There proved to ...

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2. Books and Book Production in the Monastic Communities of Byzantine Egypt

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pp. 48-66

I would like to thank Professor Judith Herrin and Professor Cornelia Roemer for their help and guidance while I was working on this topic for the conference. Special thanks are also due to Dr. Arietta Papaconstantinou for her bibliographical suggestions and comments on the draft of this article. Abbreviations of papyri and ostraca in this article follow John F. Oates, Roger S. Bagnall, Sarah J. Clackson, ...

II. Constructing Texts

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3. Talmud and “Fathers of the Church”: Theologies and the Making of Books

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pp. 69-85

One of the most dramatic and salient differences between orthodox Christianity and rabbinic Judaism as they emerge from late antiquity is the very different kinds of books that they have made by then as their definitive statements. If, we might say, the definitive library of the church at the end of late antiquity ...

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4. The Syriac Book of Women: Text and Metatext

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pp. 86-98

A sixth-century Syriac manuscript currently in the British Library preserves a collection of texts that includes the stories of four notable women of Jewish scripture—Ruth, Esther, Susanna, and Judith—and the story of Thecla, a disciple of Paul and almost a martyr.1 Its title is Ktâbâ d-neššê, the Book of Women, and ...

III. Passages and Places

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5. Through the Looking Glass Darkly: Jerome Inside the Book

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pp. 101-116

As the other papers in this volume show, the early Christian book served, in its various forms, as a means of drawing boundaries and defining Christian identities.1 By comparison with the heightened contrast that the book could produce at the borders between imagined communities, however, what existed on either side ...

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6. City of Books: Augustine and the World as Text

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pp. 117-138

The earliest and most famous portrait of Augustine, a mid-sixth-century fresco in the Lateran, may have been painted for a Christian library.1 He sits in what looks like a butterfly chair, a stylized version of the cathedra used by professors and bishops. His left hand holds a scroll, as in the traditional representation of the ...

IV. Ceremony and the Law

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7. Judging by the Book: Christian Codices and Late Antique Legal Culture

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pp. 141-158

By 533, the Christian God, according to the emperor Justinian, had authored a new Christian book, a book of law, known today as the Digest or Pandects. The divine authorship of this new Christian book is stated explicitly in Justinian’s imperial constitution Tanta. This constitution effectively promulgated the ...

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8. The Symbolics of Book Burning: The Establishment of a Christian Ritual of Persecution

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pp. 159-173

As we reflect on the varied uses of the early Christian book, it is appropriate to consider one unintended use that has important implications for the social milieu of these texts.1 I refer to the ritual destruction of a book by fire—a book burning. To willfully destroy a text by placing it in a fire is to perform an ancient and ...

V. Texts and the Body

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9. Engendering Palimpsests: Reading the Textual Tradition of the Acts of Paul and Thecla - Kim Haines-Eitzen

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pp. 177-193

In January 1892 twin sisters Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson, scholars of Semitic languages from Cambridge, made their first of many trips to St. Catherine’s monastery in Sinai.1 The primary aim of their visit was to study the manuscripts in the library and to photograph the Syriac codex of the Apology of Aristides discovered ...

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10. Holy Texts, Holy Men, and Holy Scribes: Aspects of Scriptural Holiness in Late Antiquity

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pp. 194-222

Exposure to individual verses of scripture often triggered life-changing events.1 A famous case is St. Anthony, who understood Matthew 19:21—“If you wish to be perfect, go sell everything you possess and give it to the poor and come, follow me and you will have a treasure in heaven”—when he heard it read in church ...

VI. Theory and the Book

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11. Sanctum, Lector, Percense Volumen: Snakes, Readers, and the Whole Text in Prudentius’s Hamartigenia

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pp. 225-240

This paper is concerned not with books as material objects, the set of tangibles that is the province of the codicologist, but with reading. It addresses the way in which the reader constructs the book—both in the sense, now commonplace, of “constructing” the meaning of the book; and in the more literal sense of ...

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12. Theory, or the Dream of the Book (Mallarmé to Blanchot)

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pp. 241-273

The Early Christian Book between History and Theory A sickly young monk is sent to convalesce in a city not far from his island monastery. His hosts hire a tutor to give him lessons in grammar and rhetoric. One night he falls asleep over his book. As he sleeps, he dreams that his arm is ...


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pp. 275-305


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pp. 307-309


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pp. 311-314

E-ISBN-13: 9780813220642
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813215310

Page Count: 356
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: CUA studies in early Christianity