Texts of the Passion: Latin Devotional Literature and Medieval Society

Texts of the Passion: Latin Devotional Literature and Medieval Society

Texts of the Passion: Latin Devotional Literature and Medieval Society

Texts of the Passion: Latin Devotional Literature and Medieval Society

Synopsis

"In Texts of the Passion, Thomas H. Bestul constructs the literary history of the Latin Passion narratives, placing them within their social, cultural, and historical contexts. He examines the ways in which the Passion is narrated and renarrated in devotional treatises, paying particular attention to the modifications and enlargements of the narrative of the Passion as it is presented in the canonical gospels. Of particular interest to Bestul are the representations of Jews, women, and the body of the crucified Christ. Bestul argues that the greatly enlarged role of the Jews in the Passion narratives of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is connected to the rising anti-Judaism of the period. He explores how the representations of women, particularly the Virgin Mary, express cultural values about the place of women in late medieval society and reveal an increased interest in female subjectivity. He argues that the richly detailed and increasingly graphic descriptions of the torments of Christ in the Passion narratives not only indicate a new concern with the problem of representing pain, but can be linked to the rise of judicial torture in the thirteenth century. Throughout Texts of the Passion, Bestul offers an articulate and theoretically informed remapping of the relationship between vernacular and Latin literature in the Middle Ages." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The passion of christ has an unquestioned importance in the dominant Christian culture of the European Middle Ages. the great medieval engagement with the Passion expressed itself in many ways, in art, literature, theology, as well as in religious practice and the forms of everyday life. One of the most important modes of expression is the great number of tellings and retellings of the Passion story found in devotional works written in Latin from about 1100 to 1500. It is these narratives that are the subject of this study. the Latin Passion narratives, even though they are among the most popular, widely read, and influential of medieval texts, have received relatively little attention, at least in comparison with the literature of the Passion written in the vernacular languages, a topic I shall return to shortly. the Latin devotional narratives have not been sufficiently recognized for the prominent role they played in medieval religion and culture generally. When they have been the object of study, they have often been narrowly examined from a spiritual or theological point of view, and little effort has been expended to situate them within their specific cultural and historical contexts. To work toward accomplishing a cultural contextualization for them is a principal goal of this book, taken up primarily in the later chapters.

The Passion of Christ is treated in many kinds of texts: in noncanonical gospels, in the liturgy, in homilies and sermons, in poems and hymns, in meditations and private prayers, and, especially in later centuries, in a considerable body of visionary literature. These varied texts are always to be regarded as in continual and dynamic interrelationship throughout the centuries; moreover, it is important to recognize that they . . .

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