St. John the Divine: The Deified Evangelist in Medieval Art and Theology

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Throughout the Middle Ages, John the Evangelist, identified as the author of both the Book of Revelation and the most profound and theologically informed of the four Gospels, provided monks and nuns with a figure of inspiration and an exemplar of vision and virginity. Rather than the historical apostle, this book's protagonist is a persona of the Evangelist established in theology, the liturgy, and devotional practice: the model mystic, who, by virtue of his penetrating insight, was seen as having become a mirror image of Christ.
In St. John the Divine, Jeffrey Hamburger identifies a remarkable set of images from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries that identify the inspired Evangelist so closely with the deity that he appears as his living image and embodiment. Hamburger explores the ways these representations of St. John in the guise of Christ elucidate the significance of images as such in medieval theology and mysticism. Above all, he shows how these artworks, presented together for the first time, epitomize the relationship between the visible and the invisible: between ideas, however abstract, and the concrete images that medieval Christians confronted face-to-face.

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Editorial Reviews

Herbert L. Kessler
In this brilliant and textured study, Jeffrey Hamburger enters the debate over theology's role in the formation of medieval art and re-centers the argument. Meticulously researched and conceptually very smart, St. John the Divine is a 'must read' for historians, art historians, theologians, and all students of image theory.
Niklaus Largier
Hamburger creates an entirely new understanding of the images and the persona of John, the divinized Evangelist, during the Middle Ages. A beautiful and masterful book.
Paul Binski
In this enormously erudite and stimulating book, Jeffrey Hamburger has once again demonstrated his mastery of the central issues concerning medieval religious image-making . . . . Hamburger makes a brilliant, compelling, and very timely case for the reinsertion of theology into the study of this domain of art. His mastery of the sources, tireless unearthing of new and unexpected visual material, and judicious and attractive writing will ensure that this text remains not only an important reference point for the study of medieval religious art, but also a dazzling starting point for future debate.
Richard K. Emmerson
Analyzing an astonishing range of visual examples, Hamburger unlocks a newly discovered door in heaven, revealing the crucial role John plays in medieval thought and art as deified Evangelist as well as apocalyptic prophet and beloved apostle.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520228771
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/26/2002
  • Series: Ahmanson-Murphy Fine Arts Bks.
  • Pages: 347
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey F. Hamburger is Professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. He is author of these award-winning books: The Visual and the Visionary (1998), Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent (California, 1997), and The Rothschild Canticles: Art and Mysticism in Flanders and the Rhineland circa 1300 (1990). Among his honors are the John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America (1994), the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History (1998), the Roland H. Bainton Prize (1998), and the Charles Rufus Morey Award in the History of Art (1998).

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
INTRODUCTION John as Model Mystic and Mystagogue
In principio": John as Theologian of the Logos
TWO "Theologus noster": The Deification of John
THREE "Joint Heirs with Christ": The Two St. Johns
FOUR "The Seal of Resemblance": Ezechiel and John
FIVE The Mirror of Wisdom: The Cult of St. John
SIX The Body and Blood of Christ: Mary’s Adopted Son
In His Image and Likeness": John in the Legatus divinae pietatis
EIGHT Images and the "Imago dei": Vision and the Theology of Deification
CONCLUSION "The Level Path of Likeness"
APPENDIX 1 "Verbum dei deo natum" from the Gradual of St. Katharinenthal, fols. 158av–161r
APPENDIX 2 A Sermon for the Feast Day of John the Evangelist: Öffentliche Bibliothek der Universität Basel, Ms. A VI 38, fols. 47r–60r
Selected Bibliography

Index of Biblical Citations

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