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The Corporeal Imagination

Signifying the Holy in Late Ancient Christianity

By Patricia Cox Miller

With few exceptions, the scholarship on religion in late antiquity has emphasized its tendencies toward transcendence, abstraction, and spirit at the expense of matter. In The Corporeal Imagination, Patricia Cox Miller argues instead that ancient Christianity took a material turn between the fourth and seventh centuries. During this period, Miller contends, there occurred a major shift in the ways in which the human being was oriented in relation to the divine, a shift that reconfigured the relationship between materiality and meaning in a positive direction.

The Corporeal Imagination is a groundbreaking investigation into the theological poetics of material substance in late ancient Christian texts. From hagiographies to literary descriptions of sacred paintings to treatises on relics and theurgy, Miller examines a wide variety of ancient texts to reveal how Christian writers increasingly described the matter of the world as invested with divine power. By appealing to the reader's sensory imagination, Christian texts endowed phenomena like relics, saints' bodies in hagiography, and saints' presence in icons with a visual and tactile presence. The book draws on a variety of contemporary theoretical models to elucidate the significance of all these materials in ancient religious life and imagination.

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The Courage of Faith

Martin Luther and the Theonomous Self

By Mary Gaebler

The steep challenge of personal change is no less keen today than in Martin Luther’s day, and this book takes a new look at his important work. Luther’s notorious denial of personal agency apart from the grace of God, and his scoffing at any but the most spontaneous works of Christian life, have recently rankled both critics of classic Lutheran theology and ecumenical dialogue partners. In this book, theologian and ethicist Mary Gaebler offers a critical corrective to the historical record and theological assumptions about human being and human agency. She not only shows how Luther’s thinking on the will and effective agency evolved, she shows a deeper coherence in his thinking that guided him through successive vocations as a monk, a public figure, a spouse and father, and pastor. In addition, she shows Luther’s anthropology became increasingly open, with a growing affirmation of the created order and the recognition of faith’s role in the transformation of the world, leading to Luther’s exhortation to take courage in God’s transforming presence for the good of all.

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Creating Christian Granada

Society and Religious Culture in an Old-World Frontier City, 1492–1600

by David Coleman

Creating Christian Granada provides a richly detailed examination of a critical and transitional episode in Spain's march to global empire. The city of Granada-Islam's final bastion on the Iberian peninsula-surrendered to the control of Spain's "Catholic Monarchs" Isabella and Ferdinand on January 2, 1492. Over the following century, Spanish state and Church officials, along with tens of thousands of Christian immigrant settlers, transformed the formerly Muslim city into a Christian one.

With constant attention to situating the Granada case in the broader comparative contexts of the medieval reconquista tradition on the one hand and sixteenth-century Spanish imperialism in the Americas on the other, Coleman carefully charts the changes in the conquered city's social, political, religious, and physical landscapes. In the process, he sheds light on the local factors contributing to the emergence of tensions between the conquerors and Granada's formerly Muslim, "native" morisco community in the decades leading up to the crown-mandated expulsion of most of the city's moriscos in 1569-1570.

Despite the failure to assimilate the moriscos, Granada's status as a frontier Christian community under construction fostered among much of the immigrant community innovative religious reform ideas and programs that shaped in direct ways a variety of church-wide reform movements in the era of the ecumenical Council of Trent (1545-1563). Coleman concludes that the process by which reforms of largely Granadan origin contributed significantly to transformations in the Church as a whole forces a reconsideration of traditional "top-down" conceptions of sixteenth-century Catholic reform.

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Creating Cistercian Nuns

The Women's Religious Movement and Its Reform in Thirteenth-Century Champagne

by Anne E. lester

In Creating Cistercian Nuns, Anne E. Lester addresses a central issue in the history of the medieval church: the role of women in the rise of the religious reform movement of the thirteenth century. Focusing on the county of Champagne in France, Lester reconstructs the history of the women's religious movement and its institutionalization within the Cistercian order.

The common picture of the early Cistercian order is that it was unreceptive to religious women. Male Cistercian leaders often avoided institutional oversight of communities of nuns, preferring instead to cultivate informal relationships of spiritual advice and guidance with religious women. As a result, scholars believed that women who wished to live a life of service and poverty were more likely to join one of the other reforming orders rather than the Cistercians. As Lester shows, however, this picture is deeply flawed. Between 1220 and 1240 the Cistercian order incorporated small independent communities of religious women in unprecedented numbers. Moreover, the order not only accommodated women but also responded to their interpretations of apostolic piety, even as it defined and determined what constituted Cistercian nuns in terms of dress, privileges, and liturgical practice. Lester reconstructs the lived experiences of these women, integrating their ideals and practices into the broader religious and social developments of the thirteenth century-including the crusade movement, penitential piety, the care of lepers, and the reform agenda of the Fourth Lateran Council. The book closes by addressing the reasons for the subsequent decline of Cistercian convents in the fourteenth century. Based on extensive analysis of unpublished archives, Creating Cistercian Nuns will force scholars to revise their understanding of the women's religious movement as it unfolded during the thirteenth century.

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The Crisis of Western Education (The Works of Christopher Dawson)

The Crisis of Western Education, originally published in 1961, served as a capstone of Christopher Dawson's thought on the Western educational system.

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Crispina and Her Sisters

Women and Authority in Early Christianity

By Christine Schenk

Cripina and Her Sisters explores visual imagery found on burial artifacts of prominent early Christian women. It carefully situates the tomb art within the cultural context of customary Roman commemorations of the dead and provides an in-depth review of women‘s history in the first four centuries of Christianity. From this, a fascinating picture emerges of women‘s authority in the early church--a picture either not readily available or recognized, or even sadly distorted in the written history.

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The Crosses of Pompeii

Jesus-Devotion in a Vesuvian Town

by Bruce W. Longenecker

Through a twist of fate, the eruption that destroyed Pompeii in 79 CE also preserved a wealth of evidence about the town, buried for centuries in volcanic ash. Since the town’s excavations in the eighteenth century, archaeologists have disputed the evidence that might attest the presence of Christians in Pompeii before the eruption.

Now, Bruce W. Longenecker reviews that evidence, in comparison with other possible evidence of first-century Christian presence elsewhere, and reaches the conclusion that there were indeed Christians living in the doomed town. Illustrated with maps, charts, photographs, and line drawings depicting artifacts from the town, The Crosses of Pompeii presents an elegant case for their presence. Longenecker’s arguments require dramatic changes to our understanding of the early history of Christianity.

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Cultural Conversions

Unexpected Consequences of Christian Missionary Encounters in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia

Heather J. Sharkey

Sharkey examines in this volume some of the unexpected consequences of Christian missionary encounters. In contrast to most studies of missionary encounters (which focus on individual countries, regions, or missions, or only address audiences within certain fields) this collection bridges African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian studies. Moreover, it spans colonial and postcolonial periods while connecting a diverse set of Western missionary players-Catholic and Protestant, as well as British, American, Swedish, Italian, German, French and Irish. Its cases highlight developments in the Maghreb, the Nile Valley, Palestine, Zambia, Eritrea, India and Sri Lanka. Together the essays compellingly illustrate the diverse societal response to missionary “conversions.”

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Daily Labor of the Early Franciscans

David Flood

In his early studies Flood focused on the history of the brotherhood with special emphasis on the development of the Early Rule. Eventually, the social structures of early Franciscan life led to the economics of the early Franciscan movement and the importance of work in the life of Francis and his companions. Told from the vantage point of a historian, Flood leads the reader through his analysis of the early movement

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Damned Women

Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England

by Elizabeth Reis

In her analysis of the cultural construction of gender in early America, Elizabeth Reis explores the intersection of Puritan theology, Puritan evaluations of womanhood, and the Salem witchcraft episodes. She finds in those intersections the basis for understanding why women were accused of witchcraft more often than men, why they confessed more often, and why they frequently accused other women of being witches. In negotiating their beliefs about the devil's powers, both women and men embedded womanhood in the discourse of depravity.

Puritan ministers insisted that women and men were equal in the sight of God, with both sexes equally capable of cleaving to Christ or to the devil. Nevertheless, Reis explains, womanhood and evil were inextricably linked in the minds and hearts of seventeenth-century New England Puritans. Women and men feared hell equally but Puritan culture encouraged women to believe it was their vile natures that would take them there rather than the particular sins they might have committed.

Following the Salem witchcraft trials, Reis argues, Puritans' understanding of sin and the devil changed. Ministers and laity conceived of a Satan who tempted sinners and presided physically over hell, rather than one who possessed souls in the living world. Women and men became increasingly confident of their redemption, although women more than men continued to imagine themselves as essentially corrupt, even after the Great Awakening.

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