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The Sacred Community

Art, Sacrament, and the People of God

David Jasper

Publication Year: 2012

Liturgical, sacramental, and historical, The Sacred Community is a masterful work of theological aesthetics. David Jasper draws upon a rich variety of texts and images from literature, art, and religious tradition to explore the liturgical community gathered around—and most fully constituted by—the moment of the Sanctus in the Eucharistic liturgy. From art and architecture to pilgrimage and politics Jasper places this community in the midst of the contemporary world.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

This book is the last of three exercises in theology and the arts that began with The Sacred Desert (2004) and continued with The Sacred Body (2009). It has to be the last, for it returns again and again to the Sanctus in the sacred liturgy—and there is nothing possible further than this ...

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Introduction: The Worshiping Community

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pp. 1-8

The spiritual and intellectual origins of this book are manifold and complex, but as is so often the case in writing, the specific decision to embark upon it was sparked by a passing remark. For almost ten years now, I have been meditating upon an extended project on theology, literature, and the arts, ...

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1. The Bible and Liturgical Space

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pp. 9-20

Jean-Yves Lacoste’s book Experience and the Absolute1 presents the reader with a phenomenology of the liturgy and liturgical experience. Lacoste asks what it is to exist liturgically in the “place” of prayer. The question “Who am I?” must be asked concurrently with the question “Where am I?” ...

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2. The Sacrificial Praise of the Eucharist: A Meditation

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pp. 21-30

A quarrel over a sacrifice disturbs the peace of the postlapsarian world of the Bible very early in its history, in the disastrous, second-generation exchange between Cain and his brother Abel (Genesis 4). The cultic offering of sacrifices, usually involving the slaughter of animals, ...

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3. Evil and Betrayal at the Heart of the Sacred Community

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pp. 31-44

Immanuel Kant begins his essay Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793) with words taken from 1 John 5:19: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” It is a plaint, he remarks, as old as history, even as ancient as the older art of poetry, ...

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4. The Community in Pilgrimage: Egeria and Her Fellow Travelers

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pp. 45-64

When Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims set out in springtime from Southwark for the shrine of the “holy blissful martyr” Saint Thomas à Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, at the end of the fifteenth century, the heyday of pilgrimages to sacred places was already at an end. ..

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5. The Community of the Book and the King James Bible

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pp. 65-86

In the Qur’an, Islam, Judaism and Christianity are spoken of as communities of the book.2 In different ways, they hear and receive the word of God through the pages of a sacred text. But what is it to understand this designation in a more immediate and domestic sense, ...

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6. The Community in Repentance: Georges de La Tour and the Art of the Counter Reformation

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pp. 87-96

The common note in the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus is the call to repentance. In the first words that he utters at the beginning of his ministry in Saint Mark’s Gospel, Jesus makes two demands—that people repent and believe the gospel. ...

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7. The Artist and the Mind of God

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pp. 97-110

If all of us, and it would have to be universal community, for no possible debate could remain, were truly to know the mind of God, then indeed we should know everything and therefore know nothing: for we would then not be in a state of knowing but rather of pure being beyond all consciousness. ...

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8. Art and Communities of Oppression

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pp. 111-122

In their writing and in their inscriptions, the poet Paul Celan and the artist Anselm Kiefer are both engaged in the work of mourning: not mourning for lost friends or severed relationships, but a deeper mourning of the soul. Born in Romania in 1920, Celan mourns for a lost generation ...

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9. The Politics of Friendship in the Post-Christian West

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pp. 123-134

After our brief episode in the art of the both the ancient and contemporary culture of China, let us return now to the community in the Western tradition. It is often said that the culture of the West is in our time “post-Christian.” ...

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10. The Sacred Community and the Space of Architecture

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pp. 135-154

For some chapters now we have been considering the place of art and the artist in our reflections upon the possibility of the sacred community. In the last chapter, our thoughts were more political, and, perhaps, social. ...

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11. The Church and the Sacred Community in Contemporary Society

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pp. 155-166

In the beginning, before time itself began, God said let there be light and there was light. By the divine Word all things come into being. This divine creative word is different from any human word, for as the Lord says in Isaiah, “it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (55:11). …

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12. Afterword

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pp. 167-172

Finally we return to where we began in the Introduction, to the origin of the Sanctus and to Isaiah’s vision in the Temple in Jerusalem, which to the medieval pilgrims, in community with some of whom we have traveled, was the very center of the world. …


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pp. 173-198


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pp. 199-214


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pp. 215-222

E-ISBN-13: 9781602585799
E-ISBN-10: 1602585792
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602585584
Print-ISBN-10: 160258558X

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Communities -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
  • Liturgics.
  • Public worship.
  • Christianity and the arts.
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