From Judgment to Passion

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

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 752
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  • Book Info
    From Judgment to Passion
    Book Description:

    Devotion to the crucified Christ is one of the most familiar, yet most 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 as well such imitative extremes as celibacy and self-flagellation? To answer this question, Rachel Fulton ranges over developments in liturgical performance, private prayer, doctrine, and art. She considers the fear occasioned by the disappointed hopes of medieval Christians convinced that the apocalypse would come soon, the revulsion of medieval Jews at being baptized in the name of God born from a woman, the reform of the Church in light of a new European money economy, the eroticism of the Marian exegesis of the Song of Songs, and much more.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50076-0
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xx)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    This book sets out to explain the origins and initial development of a devotion at the heart of medieval European Christianity: the imitative devotion to Christ in his suffering, historical humanity and to his mother, Mary, in her compassionate grief. That this devotion to the crucified God-man, his grieving mother, and his tortured yet redemptive body and blood was at the heart of medieval European Christianity is hardly to be contested, as any visit to any European art museum or, indeed, to almost any medieval European church will attest. Why and how it became so is a question somewhat more...

  7. PART ONE Christus Patiens
    • CHAPTER ONE History, Conversion, and the Saxon Christ
      (pp. 9-59)

      Corpus Christi, God made flesh in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, in the sacrament of the altar—this was the daily miracle that lay at the experiential, intellectual, and symbolic center of the late medieval devotion to Christ in his humanity and to his mother in her grief, the continuing and repeatable miracle of God’s physical, material, and, above all, historical presence in the very same flesh in which he had become incarnate from the womb of the Virgin.² This was the miracle assumed by Saint Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) in his insistence that his brothers should...

    • CHAPTER TWO Apocalypse, Reform, and the Suffering Savior
      (pp. 60-141)

      Unlike the doctrine of the real presence of Christ’s historical body in the Eucharist, which, in its origins, if not in its full development, has long been attributed to Paschasius and the work that he did for the novices at Corvey, the corollary devotion to Christ in his suffering, historical humanity and to his mother in her compassion has never been traced to a single point of origin, whether to an individual or to a community, or even to a generation, although it is generally agreed that it made its appearance sometime in the course of the eleventh century, more...

    • CHAPTER THREE Praying to the Crucified Christ
      (pp. 142-192)

      My argument thus far has been that to look for the catalysts for the changes in the representation of Christ that followed the turn of the first Christological millennium, we should look not so much to changes in the general conditions of life in the eleventh century but, rather, to changes in conditions specific to the understanding and imaging of Christ, paramount among which was the calendrical change in the millennium itself. We have seen how this change in the calendar coincided with and, I would argue, directly occasioned greater attention to the image of Christ as the Crucified One...

  8. PART TWO Maria Compatiens
    • Introduction
      (pp. 195-203)

      Theologically, the great tension in Christianity is between the nature of God as uncreated divinity and that of the God-man as incarnate humanity. Devotionally, however, the great tension is between prayer directed toward God and prayer directed to God through the saints, particularly prayer directed to God through Christ’s Mother, the Virgin Mary. Why, after all, should human beings pray to any being other than God, especially if prayer—as John Cassian had insisted in his conferences with the great desert fathers, and regular religious concurred for centuries thereafter—is above all an effort to achieve that momentary purity of...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Praying to the Mother of the Crucified Judge
      (pp. 204-243)

      Anselm’s prayers to Mary, like those to Christ, were prodigies. Nothing quite like them survives from the earlier tradition of Carolingian and Anglo-Saxon prayer; nothing written after them in Latin or the emerging vernaculars of Europe was ever quite as it had been before—whether because of the immediate example of the prayers themselves or simply because of the prayers’ intimate partaking of the anxieties and preoccupations of their day, it is impossible to be sure. What is certain is that it is impossible to tell the story without them.

      The prayers, as we shall see, were effective in that...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Seal of the Mother Bride
      (pp. 244-288)

      Hitherto, as we have seen, devotion to Mary was above all a matter of making one’s own speech heard before the court of the Lady. The problem was not how to hear her but how to make oneself audible from the great depths of one’s sinfulness (“Exaudi me miserum et peccatorem”), one’s goal being to excite the Mother of God to speech with her Son, not so as to make that speech audible to the petitioner but, rather, so as to ensure the efficacy of her intercession on the petitioner’s behalf. There was, it seems, little need (or desire) to...

    • CHAPTER SIX The Voice of My Beloved, Knocking
      (pp. 289-350)

      Honorius may have been the first Christian exegete to “invent” commentary on the Song of Songs as an effective “machine” for lifting the mind to remembrance of, and meditation on, the Virgin’s intimate relationship with her Son, but he was most certainly not the last. Indeed, commentary on the Song of Songs would remain one of the primary devotional “machines” for remembering Christ and Mary well into the thirteenth century, to be supplanted only gradually by other techniques (for example, “meditation on the life of Christ” as recommended by the Franciscans, or “mystery theater” as developed in particular towns in...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Once Upon a Time …
      (pp. 351-404)

      For ancient and medieval Christians, having (of course) no tradition of performative sacred eroticism, no rituals for consummating “sacred marriages” between priestesses and kings (not to mention no priestesses), no sense in which the coupling of human bodies in pleasure might itself be a sacred act (other than for the getting of children—itself, we should recall, no small miracle), the manifest eroticism of the Song of Songs was always something of a conundrum, not to say an embarrassment, however much exegetes might “allegorize” it by finding in it representations of God’s love for the Church or the soul.² On...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Commoriens, Commortua, Consepulta
      (pp. 405-470)

      The Song of Songs was a drama, an epithalamium, a nuptiale carmen—on this much, following Origen, the Marian commentators on Solomon’s third book were more or less unanimously agreed. Which epithalamic drama—or historia, or prophetia, or even fabula—however, was something else again, the narrative variations being limited only by the number of commentators themselves, and sometimes not even then.² As we have seen, for Honorius, the Song (along with its attendant texts) was at one time a “seal” for stamping the “comic” events of the Assumption onto the memories of its liturgical auditors, while at another it...

  9. Abbreviations
    (pp. 471-472)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 473-592)
    (pp. 593-650)
    (pp. 651-654)
    (pp. 655-656)
    (pp. 657-676)