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Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo
Between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries, the west central African kingdom of Kongo practiced Christianity and actively participated in the Atlantic world as an independent, cosmopolitan realm. Drawing on an expansive and largely unpublished set of objects, images, and documents, Fromont examines the advent of Kongo Christian visual culture and traces its development across four centuries marked by war, the Atlantic slave trade, and, finally, the rise of nineteenth-century European colonialism. By offering an extensive analysis of the religious, political, and artistic innovations through which the Kongo embraced Christianity, Fromont approaches the country's conversion as a dynamic process that unfolded across centuries.
Christian Art in Its Imperial Context
In recent years, art historians such as Johannes Deckers (Picturing the Bible, 2009) have argued for a significant transition in fourth- and fifth-century images of Jesus following the conversion of Constantine. Broadly speaking, they perceive the image of a peaceful, benevolent shepherd transformed into a powerful, enthroned Jesus, mimicking and mirroring the dominance and authority of the emperor. The powers of church and state are thus conveniently synthesized in such a potent image. This deeply rooted position assumes that ante-pacem images of Jesus were uniformly humble while post-Constantinian images exuded the grandeur of power and glory.
The Art of Empire contends that the art and imagery of Late Antiquity merits a more nuanced understanding of the context of the imperial period before and after Constantine. The chapters in this collection each treat an aspect of the relationship between early Christian art and the rituals, practices, or imagery of the Empire, and offer a new and fresh perspective on the development of Christian art in its imperial background.
Based on his wide-ranging knowledge of late-medieval Latin sermons from England as well as his editorial experience with medieval Latin texts, Siegfried Wenzel offers critical editions of five instruction manuals on the "art of preaching" dating from 1230 to the fifteenth century. Four of the texts are edited and translated for the first time; the fifth is re-edited from all extant manuscripts. Each of the five sermons is accompanied by a facing-page translation into English. The book aims to stimulate interest and new research in a field that still awaits closer analysis of the relationships among existing treatises and of their historical development.
The Catholic Debate
During the past few decades, high-profile cases like that of Terry Schiavo have fueled the public debate over forgoing or withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration from patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). These cases, whether involving a
Essays in Honor of Philip Rousseau
Ascetic Culture honors Philip Rousseau’s pathbreaking work on early Christian asceticism in a series of essays exploring how quickly the industrious and imaginative practitioners of asceticism, from the early fourth through the mid-fifth century, adapted the Greco-Roman social, literary, and religious culture in which they had been raised. Far from rejecting the life of the urban centers of the ancient world, they refined and elaborated that life in their libraries, households, and communities. The volume begins with a discussion of Egyptian monastic reading programs and the circulation of texts, especially the hugely influential Life of Antony. A second group of essays engages the topic of disciplinary culture in ascetic spaces such as the monastery, the household, and the city. A third group focuses on the topic of imaginary landscapes and ascetic self-fashioning. Ascetic Culture concludes by surveying the scholarly study of asceticism over the last one hundred and fifty years, arguing that previous generations of scholars have regarded asceticism either as a product of the inner dynamism of early Christianity or as a distortion of its earliest aims. Together, the contributors recognize, reflect upon, and extend the themes explored in Rousseau’s work on early Christianity’s ascetic periphery—a region whose inhabitants reflect in various ways the aspirations of their religion, from the daily to the otherworldly.
In his Ascetics, Authority, and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian, published in 1978, Philip Rousseau presented a survey of asceticism in the western church until about 400, including a selective study of Jerome, and then, moving into the fifth century, a reading of Sulpicius and Cassian. Rousseau explored such societal changes as the eventual triumph of the cenobitic movement and its growing effect within the church, not least on the episcopate. He focused primarily on the development among ascetics of a certain concept of spiritual authority; on the attraction of that concept for a wider audience; and on its enduring formulation within a literary tradition of great influence. For this second edition, Rousseau has supplied a new introduction with extensive bibliographical references in which he charts the ways in which scholarship on early Christian asceticism has developed since his compelling and influential original argument.
Voices, Methods, Issues
This groundbreaking volume presents the collective work of twelve Christian ethicists of Asian descent in the U.S. who map the new and burgeoning field of study located at the juncture of Christian ethics and Asian American studies. Led by Grace Kao and Ilsup Ahn, these scholars identify the purposes and chart the contours of what constitutes a distinctly Asian American Christian ethical approach to moral concerns.
Asian American Christian Ethics rethinks perennial issues in Christian ethics (war and peace, family/marriage/parenting, gender and sexuality, economics and wealth, virtue ethics), pressing social matters (race relations, immigration, healthcare, the environment), and issues of special interest to Asian Americans (education, labor, plastic surgery). Each chapter utilizes classical Christian sources read from the particular vantage point of Asian American Christian theology, ethics, and culture. Beginning with a description of the range of Christian responses to the issue, each author describes and enacts a constructive proposal for an Asian American Christian ethical response. An ideal volume for researchers, teachers, and students alike, Asian American Christian Ethics articulates the foundations, questions, and goals of this vibrant and flourishing field of study.
Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism
“An insightful, empirically based analysis of how the Assemblies of God denomination is changing in response to modernity. This multimethod book, based on both surveys and field research, contributes to a growing sociological literature on Pentecostalism.”
Social History of Southern Baptists, 1865-1900
First published in 1967, Rufus Spain’s thorough investigation into Southern Baptist attitudes set the stage for research on religion in the American South. In At Ease in Zion, Spain questions the titular “ease” with society that Southern Baptists seemed to maintain following the Civil War. His analysis of denominational newspapers, as well as reports from the Southern Baptist Convention and state conventions, paint a compelling picture of the subjects’ complacency with their social existence, even as they criticized personal and recreational ethics.
While the South faced significant social, economic, and political changes after the Civil War, religion remained the primary moral influence. As the Southern Baptist denomination made up a significant majority of the population at that time, its leaders and attitudes had a clear and undeniable impact on social norms. Rufus Spain was one of the first writers to actively demonstrate the relationship between Southern religion and Southern society, and his work displays meticulous attention to the ways in which we are affected by complacency. He asserts that Southern Baptists viewed the American South as a version of God’s ideal society; any issues they wished to address were caused by individuals (such as those who did not conform to societal norms) or external attitudes (such as those in differing religions or regions).
At Ease in Zion is a critical part of the scholarly discussion on religion in society. Spain’s research offers a bold analysis of the American South and its citizens during one of the most tumultuous times in its history while providing a basis for arguments on “social Christianity” and its ever-shifting role in the world.