From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200

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Overview

Devotion to the crucified Christ is one of the most familiar yet disconcerting artifacts of medieval European civilization. How and why did the images of the dying God-man and his grieving mother achieve such prominence, inspiring unparalleled religious creativity and emotional artistry even as they fostered such imitative extremes as celibacy, crusade, and self-flagellation?

Magisterial in style and comprehensive in scope, From Judgment to Passion is the first systematic attempt to explain the origins and initial development of European devotion to Christ in his suffering humanity and Mary in her compassionate grief. Rachel Fulton examines liturgical performance, doctrine, private prayer, scriptural exegesis, and art in order to illuminate and explain the powerful desire shared by medieval women and men to identify with the crucified Christ and his mother.

The book begins with the Carolingian campaign to convert the newly conquered pagan Saxons, in particular with the effort to explain for these new converts the mystery of the Eucharist, the miraculous presence of Christ's body at the Mass. Moving on to the early eleventh century, when Christ's failure to return on the millennium of his Passion (A.D. 1033) necessitated for believers a radical revision of Christian history, Fulton examines the novel liturgies and devotions that arose amid this apocalyptic disappointment. The book turns finally to the twelfth century when, in the wake of the capture of Jerusalem in the First Crusade, there occurred the full flowering of a new, more emotional sensibility of faith, epitomized by the eroticism of the Marian exegesis of the Song of Songs and by the artistic and architectural innovations we have come to think of as quintessentially high medieval.

In addition to its concern with explaining devotional change, From Judgment to Passion presses a second, crucial question: How is it possible for modern historians to understand not only the social and cultural functions but also the experience of faith -- the impulsive engagement with the emotions, sometimes ineffable, of prayer and devotion? The answer, magnificently exemplified throughout this book's narrative, lies in imaginative empathy, the same incorporation of self into story that lay at the heart of the medieval effort to identify with Christ and Mary in their love and pain.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Catholic Historical Review - Marsha L. Dutton

Fulton's clarity of thought and thoroughness of explication make her study as compelling as it is challenging.

History of Religions - Kevin Madigan

One of the most subtle, moving, and important books in medieval religious history published over the last several decades.

History: The Journal of the Historical Society - Sarah Hamilton

A rich and stimulating study which stands in its own right and also offers potential avenues for future work.

American Historical Review - Srah Jane Boss

This is an important book that will continue to be read for very many years.

Choice

Fulton's sophisticated analysis of medieval prayer and liturgy reexamines the medieval conceptions of judgement, passion and salvation, and presents valuable new insights into the developements of the cult of the suffering Jesus and the compassionate Virgin Mary. This is truly an important book.

Catholic Historical Review
Fulton's clarity of thought and thoroughness of explication make her study as compelling as it is challenging.

— Marsha L. Dutton

History of Religions
One of the most subtle, moving, and important books in medieval religious history published over the last several decades.

— Kevin Madigan

History: The Journal of the Historical Society

A rich and stimulating study which stands in its own right and also offers potential avenues for future work.

— Sarah Hamilton

American Historical Review
This is an important book that will continue to be read for very many years.

— Srah Jane Boss

History: The Journal of the Historical Society
A rich and stimulating study which stands in its own right and also offers potential avenues for future work.

— Sarah Hamilton

Journal of Religion - Karl F. Morrison

[Fulton's] magisterial book constitutes a distinguished contribution to the history of empathy.

Theological Studies - Thomas F. X. Noble

This is a courageous book. Fulton is party to no trend, faction, or fashion...I have not read a book in many years that taught me so much or moved me so deeply as this one.

Speculum - Wanda Zemler-Cizewski

Of interest to medievalists across the disciplines of history, art history, religious studies, and literature.

Religious Studies Review - Mary F. Thurlkill

Fulton displays an expert knowledge of a most impressive array of sources including theology, liturgy, hagiography, and religious art.

Choice

Fulton's sophisticated analysis of medieval prayer and liturgy reexamines the medieval conceptions of judgement, passion and salvation, and presents valuable new insights into the developements of the cult of the suffering Jesus and the compassionate Virgin Mary. This is truly an important book.

International Review of Biblical Studies

Fulton in this extraordinary book reconstructs the early history of devotion to the human and, ultimately, suffering Christ, from late antiquity through the age of Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abaelard, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Peter Damian.... A work of extraordinary erudition, this book revolutionizes our knowledge of medieval spirituality.

Journal of Religion
[Fulton's] magisterial book constitutes a distinguished contribution to the history of empathy.

— Karl F. Morrison

Theological Studies
This is a courageous book. Fulton is party to no trend, faction, or fashion...I have not read a book in many years that taught me so much or moved me so deeply as this one.

— Thomas F. X. Noble

Speculum
Of interest to medievalists across the disciplines of history, art history, religious studies, and literature.

— Wanda Zemler-Cizewski, Marquette University

Religious Studies Review
Fulton displays an expert knowledge of a most impressive array of sources including theology, liturgy, hagiography, and religious art.

— Mary F. Thurlkill

Publishers Weekly
In this intellectual tour de force, Fulton, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago, examines the development of a central feature of medieval Christianity: the devotion to the crucified Christ and to the Virgin Mary. Using hermeneutic theory, textual exegesis, and historiography, she probes the "thoughts, ideals, anxieties, ambitions, and dreams that the men and women of the Middle Ages brought to... their imaginings about God." The fixation on divine suffering grew out of sentiments of pity and tenderness during these centuries, and artists, writers and theologians expressed their empathy in poems, treatises, paintings and prayers. Fulton begins her story in the ninth century, when devotion to Christ was expressed primarily in the sacrament of the Eucharist. After 1000, when Christ failed to return to earth as many Christians had thought he would, the character of devotion changed. During the 11th century, Fulton notes, Christians expressed their piety in great holy pilgrimages to Jerusalem; in the popular use of crucifixes; in grammatical debates over the Eucharistic formula, "Here is my body"; and in greater efforts to become unified with Christ through ascetic practices and prayer. By the 12th century, theologians used commentaries on the Song of Songs to construct Mary as a compassionate mother who suffers her son's pain vicariously. Fulton's argument is sometimes obscured by jargon, but she paints in breathtaking strokes a gorgeous tapestry of the loyal devotion to the Man of Sorrows and the Mater Dolorosa. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This enormous tome (468 pages without the nearly 200 pages of abbreviations, endnotes, and 15 introductory pages) is dedicated to the seemingly simple task of understanding medieval religious fervor for Christ. Thus, Fulton (history, Univ. of Chicago) investigates Christian piety, especially as evidenced in the Eucharist and by Anselmian devotion to images of judgment, redemption, and heroic self-punishment. She argues that the 800s-1200s saw a rise in devotion to the suffering of Christ, while at the same time the church evidenced a new emotionalism, focused around the interior suffering of Mary. Concentrating on clerical piety rather than popular or miracle stories, Fulton plumbs these parallel medieval developments in Christianity. A student of the great medievalist Caroline Walker Bynum, Fulton is part of the "continuing effort to remake medieval intellectual history as a history of persons and communities rather than of impersonal concepts." The book offers remarkable depth as well as breadth in a most commendable manner, though the sheer size makes this a daunting undertaking for the reader. Recommended for scholarly history and religion collections.-Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231125512
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 752
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Fulton is asssociate professor of history at the University of Chicago. She has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Lilly Endowment, and she has been a Fellow at the National Humanities Center, where she began work on this book. Her current project is a study of the cognitive and ritual making of prayer in the monastic culture of the medieval West.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Part 1. "Christus Patiens" 1. History, Conversion, and the Saxon Christ2. Apocalypse, Reform, and the Suffering Savior3. Praying to the Crucified ChristPart 2. "Maria Compatiens" 4. Praying to the Mother of the Crucified Judge5. The Seal of the Mother Bride6. The Voice of My Beloved, Knocking7. Once Upon a Time...8. "Commortua, Commoriens, Consepulta"

Columbia University Press

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