The Grief of God: Images of the Suffering Jesus in Late Medieval England [NOOK Book]

Overview

Graphic portrayals of the suffering Jesus Christ pervade late medieval English art, literature, drama, and theology. These images have been interpreted as signs of a new emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. To others they indicate a fascination with a terrifying God of vengeance and a morbid obsession with death. In The Grief of God, however, Ellen Ross offers a different understanding of the purpose of this imagery and its meaning to the people of the time. Analyzing a wide range of textual and pictorial evidence,...
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The Grief of God: Images of the Suffering Jesus in Late Medieval England

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Overview

Graphic portrayals of the suffering Jesus Christ pervade late medieval English art, literature, drama, and theology. These images have been interpreted as signs of a new emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. To others they indicate a fascination with a terrifying God of vengeance and a morbid obsession with death. In The Grief of God, however, Ellen Ross offers a different understanding of the purpose of this imagery and its meaning to the people of the time. Analyzing a wide range of textual and pictorial evidence, the author finds that the bleeding flesh of the wounded Savior manifests divine presence; in the intensified corporeality of the suffering Jesus whose flesh not only condemns, but also nurtures, heals, and feeds, believers meet a trinitarian God of mercy. Ross explores the rhetoric of transformation common to English medieval artistic, literary, and devotional sources. The extravagant depictions of pain and anguish, the author shows, constitute an urgent appeal to respond to Jesus' expression of love. She also explains how the inscribing of Christ's pain on the bodies of believers at times erased the boundaries between human and divine so that holy persons, and in particular, holy women, participated in the transformative power of Christ. This interdisciplinary study of sermon literature, manuscript illuminations and church wall paintings, drama, hagiographic narratives, and spiritual treatises illuminates the religious sensibilities, practices, and beliefs that constellate around the late medieval fascination with the bleeding body of the suffering Jesus Christ.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Ross (religion and medieval studies, Swarthmore College) finds in the pervasive and graphic images of the wounded Savior's bleeding flesh a manifestation of divine presence, and in the intense corporeality a trinitarian God of mercy. She interprets the extravagant depictions of pain and anguish in artistic, literary, and devotional sources as an urgent appeal to respond to Jesus' expression of love. Such images, she says, erased the boundaries between human and divine so that believers, particularly women, could participate in the transformative power of Christ. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher
"This study is balanced and sensitive as well as theologically sound and historically convincing."—Choice

"Ross's interdisciplinary approach and firm attention to her theme of the Passion as expression of divine love and mercy provide both a deep texture and continually reinforced focus that serves her purpose well..."—Church History

"This is a deeply serious, lucid study not merely of late medieval piety and culture, but of the more general problem regarding the affirming impact of sacred violence and pain in Christianity."—Theological Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195344530
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/1997
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Swarthmore College
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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 The Dynamics of Divine Appeal: The Suffering Jesus in the Literature of Spiritual Guidance 15
Sermons and Spiritual Guidance Literature 15
Imitation of Jesus Christ in the Lives of Individual Believers: Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, and Spiritual Anguish 31
2 The Aesthetics of Suffering: Figuring the Crucified Jesus in Manuscripts and Wall Paintings 41
Psalters, Missals, and Books of Hours 42
Wall Paintings 53
3 Dramas of Divine Compassion: The Figure of the Wounded Jesus and the Rhetoric of Appeal in the Mystery Plays 67
Testimony to the Immensity of Divine Love 68
Response to the Immensity of Divine Love 85
4 Body, Power, and Mimesis: Holy Women as Purveyors of Divine Presence 95
Women's Bodies as Inscriptions of Divine Love: Margaret of Antioch and Katherine of Alexandria 96
An Athlete of the Passion of Christ: Elizabeth of Spalbeek 110
The Body as Parable of Divine Sorrow: Margery Kempe 117
Conclusion 131
Notes 139
Bibliography 169
Index 191
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