Rachel Fulton

Department of History

The University of Chicago

 

Spring 1997

 

THE PASSION OF CHRIST

 


This is a graduate-level colloquium intended to introduce students to one of the most problematic aspects of medieval European piety: the devotion to the suffering Christ. From the twelfth century, the bleeding, dying God-man was to become ubiquitous in art and literature, his paradoxical suffering exciting both heretical skepticism (Cathars and Lollards) and pious imitation. Meditation on the grief of the incarnate Savior was instrumental in defining European attitudes towards the suffering of all other human beings, and the desire to experience the narrative of his passion stimulated contact with the Other (Crusade and pilgrimage), dramatic reenactment (Corpus Christi plays), and historiographic imagination. Long recognized as one of the key symbols of medieval European culture, the passion of Christ has in recent years attracted increased scholarly attention both as image and narrative. Our goal in this course will be to survey this literature in order to answer the following questions: Why did medieval Europeans turn in the twelfth century from a devotion centered primarily on the Cross and the triumphant divinity of Christ to one centered on his passible humanity? What effect did this new emphasis have on the idea and exercise of compassionate empathy? What conceptions of history and allegory, truth and fiction underpinned this emphasis on the historical suffering of God? How did devotion to the passion structure time and space? What effect did the emphasis on God's death have on those who were considered historically responsible for his death? And, most importantly, how are we as historians to evaluate this devotional emphasis on suffering and torture? As Ellen Ross has recently stated the question,

 

Is not the suffering Jesus image really about a tyrannical God of judgment who cruelly demands the torture of the "Beloved Son" as satisfaction for humanity's wrongs? Is not the visage of Christ in agony in fact a reflection of a religious world of gloom and fear, a sign of the "dark ages," of an angst-ridden society terrified by death and mesmerized by a bloody and tormented figure who is a constant reminder of the fate that awaits unrepentant sinners? Or, alternatively,... is this fascination with the suffering Jesus not attributable to excesses in devotional practice which manifest the decline of medieval culture? Is this devotion to a wounded God not excessive and even maudlin? And is the piety of the wounded Jesus not theologically naive and so enamored of Jesus' humanity as to have lost sight of his divinity? (The Grief of God, pp. 4-5)


COURSE REQUIREMENTS

This is primarily a reading course. Each week we will be reading and discussing a number of primary and secondary sources. In order to facilitate these discussions, students will be asked to prepare a number of formal presentations in the form of book reviews and text analyses. These presentations will be assigned at the first meeting. For their final paper (10-12 pages), students will choose either a literature survey or an analysis of a primary text. These papers will be due on the last day of finals week (Friday, June 13).


BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore:

Sarah Beckwith, Christ's Body

Thomas Bestul, Texts of the Passion

Caroline Bynum, Fragmentation and Redemption

Giles Constable, Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought

Karl Morrison, "I am You"

Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain

 

Aelred of Rievaulx, Treatises and Pastoral Prayer (Cistercian Publications)

Angela of Foligno, Complete Works (Paulist Press)

Bonaventure, Soul's Journey. Tree of Life. Life of St. Francis (Paulist Press)

Gertrude of Helfta, Spiritual Exercises (Cistercian Publications)

Julian of Norwich, Showings (Paulist Press)

Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe (Penguin)


READING ASSIGNMENTS

April 1: The Story and its Interpretation (Modern and Patristic)

Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 18-19

 

April 8: The Devotion to the Cross

Giles Constable, Three Studies, pp. 145-68

Erich Auerbach, "Sermo Humilis"

Adolf Katzenellenbogen, "The Image of Christ in the Early Middle Ages"

Joseph Szoverffy, "Crux fidelis," "Venantius Fortunatus," and "Early Hymns"

J.A.W. Bennett, Poetry of the Passion, pp. 1-31

Christopher Chase, "Christ III, Dream of the Rood, and Early Christian Passion Piety"

tienne Delaruelle, "La crucifix dans la pit populaire et dans l'art, du VI au XI sicle"

Dominique Iogna-Prat, "La croix, le moine et l'empereur"

 

April 15: The Humanity of Christ

Anselm of Canterbury, Oratio

Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons 20 and 43 on the Song of Songs

Aelred of Rievaulx, De institutis inclusarum

 

David Aers, "The Humanity of Christ: Reflections on Orthodox Late Medieval Representations," in Powers of the Holy, pp. 15-42

Giles Constable, Three Studies, pp. 169-93

R.W. Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, pp. 221-57

Caroline Bynum, "The Body of Christ in the Later Middle Ages," in Fragmentation and Redemption, pp. 79-117

Leo Steinberg, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion

M.D. Chenu, "Nature and Man—The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century," in Nature, Man and Society, pp. 1-48

Erich Auerbach, Mimesis, pp. 143-73

Richard Kieckhefer, Unquiet Souls, pp. 89-121

 

April 22: Empathy and Compassion

Ekbert of Schnau, Stimulus amoris (PL 158:748-61; PL 184:953-66)

Edmund of Abingdon, Speculum ecclesie

Arnold of Bonneval, De septem verbis domini in cruce (PL 189:1677-1726)

Ogier of Locedio, "Quis dabit capiti meo aquam"

Dialogus beatae Mariae et Anselmi... (PL 159:271-90)

Vita beate virginis Marie et salvatoris rhythmica

Bonaventure, Life of Francis

 

Karl Morrison, "I am You"

Hans Belting, The Image and its Public

Thomas Bestul, Texts of the Passion, pp. 111-44

Caroline Bynum, "... And Woman his Humanity," in Fragmentation and Redemption, pp. 151-79

Giles Constable, Three Studies, pp. 194-248

 

April 29: The Liturgy of the Passion

Meditatio ... per septem diei horus, PL 94:561-8

Francis, "Office of the Passion," in Francis and Clare, pp. 80-98

Gertrude of Helfta, Spiritual Exercises, pp. 122-46

 

Y. Rokseth, "La Liturgie de la Passion vers la fin du X sicle"

Dominique Gagnan, "Office de la Passion: Priere quotidienne de saint Franois d'Assise"

Sarah Beckwith, Christ's Body, pp. 22-77

Caroline Bynum, "Women Mystics and Eucharistic Devotion," in Fragmentation and Redemption, pp. 119-50

Pamela Sheingorn, "The Sepulcrum Domini: A Study in Art and Liturgy"

Barbara Lane, The Altar and the Altarpiece

Marion Glasscoe, "Time of Passion: Latent Relationships between Liturgy and Meditation in Two Middle English Mystics"

 

May 6: History and Fiction

Bonaventure, Lignum vitae

Meditationes vitae Christi

 

James Marrow, Passion Iconography, pp. 44-67

Hans Robert Jauss, "The Communicative Role of the Fictive," in Question and Answer, pp. 3-50

Jacques Le Goff, "Past/Present," in History and Memory, pp. 1-19

Hayden White, "The Value of Narrativity," and "The Metaphysics of Narrativity," in The Content of the Form, pp. 1-25, 169-84

Paul Ricouer, "Interpretive Narrative," in Figuring the Sacred, pp. 181-99

M.D. Chenu, "The Symbolist Mentality," and "Theology and the New Awareness of History," in Nature, Man and Society, pp. 99-145 and 162-201

Giles Constable, "A Living Past"

 

May 13: Mystical union

Angela of Foligno, Complete Works

Julian of Norwich, Showings

Bridget of Sweden, Life and Selected Revelations

 

David Aers, "The Humanity of Christ: Reflections on Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Love," in Powers of the Holy, pp. 77-104

Caroline Bynum, "Women's Stories, Women's Symbols," "The Mysticism and Asceticism of Medieval Women," "The Female Body and Religious Practice," in Fragmentation and Redemption, pp. 27-51, 53-78, and 181-238

D. Pezzini, "The Theme of the Passion in Richard Rolle and Julian of Norwich"

Laurie Finke, "Mystical Bodies and the Dialogics of Vision," in Maps of Flesh and Light, ed. Ulrike Weithaus, pp. 28-44

Sixten Ringbom, From Icon to Narrative, pp. 11-71

 

May 20: Enacting the Passion: Drama and Pilgrimage

a) Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe

 

Sarah Beckwith, Christ's Body, pp. 78-111

Gail McMurray Gibson, The Theater of Devotion, pp. 47-65

Denise Despres, Ghostly Sights, pp. 57-86

Karma Lochrie, Margery Kempe and Translations of the Flesh, pp. 167-202

Ellen Ross, "She wept and cried right loud for sorrow and for pain," in Maps of Flesh and Light, pp. 45-59

 

b) English Mystery Plays, ed. Peter Happ (Penguin), pp. 409-551

 

V.A. Kolve, The Play called Corpus Christi, pp. 175-205

Rosemary Woolf, The English Mystery Plays, pp. 238-268

Mervyn James, "Ritual, Drama and Social Body in the Late Medieval English Town"

Lynette Muir, Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe, pp. 126-43

J.W. Robinson, "The Late Medieval Cult of Jesus and the Mystery Plays"

Leah Sinanoglou, "The Christ Child as Sacrifice"

C. Zika, "Hosts, Processions and Pilgrimages in Fifteenth-Century Germany"

 

May 27: The Jews as Christ-Killers

Thomas Bestul, Texts of the Passion, pp. 69-110

David Nirenberg, Communities of Violence, pp. 200-30

James Marrow, "Circumdederunt me canus multi: Christ's Tormentors in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance"

Jeremy Cohen, "The Jews as the Killers of Christ in the Latin Tradition from Augustine to Jerome"

William Jordan, "The Last Tormentors of Christ"

S. Rohrbacher, "The Charge of Deicide: An Anti-Jewish Motif in Medieval Christian Art"

 

June 3: Torture

Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain, pp. 161-243

Thomas Bestul, Texts of the Passion, pp. 145-64

Caroline Bynum, "Material Continuity, Personal Survival and the Resurrection of the Body," in Fragmentation and Redemption, pp. 239-97

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp. 3-69

Douglas Gray, "The Five Wounds of our Lord"


READINGS ON RESERVE in Regenstein Library

 

PRIMARY LITERATURE

Aelred of Rievaulx. Treatises and Pastoral Prayer: On Jesus at the Age of Twelve. Rule of Life for a Recluse and the Pastoral Prayer. Intro. David Knowles. Kalamazoo, Mich.: Cistercian Publications, 1971.

Angela of Foligno. Complete Works. Ed. and trans. Paul Lachance. New York: Paulist Press, 1993.

Bonaventure. The Soul's Journey into God. The Tree of Life. The Life of St. Francis. Trans. and intro. Ewert Cousins. New York: Paulist Press, 1978.

pseudo-Bonaventure. Meditations on the Life of Christ: An Illustrated Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. Trans. Isa Ragusa and Rosalie B. Green. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.

Bridget of Sweden. Life and Selected Revelations. Trans. Albert Ryle Kezel. New York: Paulist Press, 1990.

Francis and Clare: The Complete Works. Trans. Regis J. Armstrong and Ignatius C. Brady. New York: Paulist Press, 1982.

Gertrude of Helfta. Spiritual Exercises. Trans. Gertrud Jaron Lewis and Jack Lewis. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1989.

J.K. Elliott. The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

The Heliand: The Saxon Gospel. Trans. and commentary by G. Roland Murphy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Jacobus de Voragine. Legenda aurea. Trans. Willian Granger Ryan. The Golden Legend. 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.

Julian of Norwich. Showings. Ed. and trans. Edmund Colledge and James Walsh. New York: Paulist Press, 1978.

Margery Kempe. The Book of Margery Kempe. Trans. B.A. Windeatt. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985.

 

SECONDARY LITERATURE: BOOKS

Aers, David and Lynn Staley. The Powers of the Holy: Religion, Politics and Gender in Late Medieval English Culture. University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.

Auerbach, Erich. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Trans. Willard R. Trask. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953.

Beckwith, Sarah. Christ's Body: Identity, culture and society in late medieval writings. London and New York: Routledge, 1993

Belting, Hans. The Image and Its Public in the Middle Ages: Form and Function of Early Paintings of the Passion. Trans. Mark Bartusis and Raymond Meyer. New Rochelle, New York: Caratzas, 1990.

Bennett, J.A.W. Poetry of the Passion: Studies in Twelve Centuries of English Verse. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.

Bestul, Thomas. Texts of the Passion: Latin Devotional Literature and Medieval Society. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.

Bynum, Caroline Walker. Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion. New York: Zone Books, 1991.

Chenu, M.D. Nature, Man and Society in the Twelfth Century: Essays on New Theological Perspectives in the Latin West. Selected, edited and trans. by Jerome Taylor and Lester K. Little. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Constable, Giles. Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought: The Interpretation of Mary and Martha. The Ideal of the Imitation of Christ. The Orders of Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Despres, Denise. Ghostly Sights: Visual Meditation in Late-Medieval Literature. Norman, Okla.: Pilgrim Books, 1989.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books, 1979.

Gibson, Gail McMurray. The Theater of Devotion: East Anglian Drama and Society in the Late Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Heffernan, Thomas J. Sacred Biography: Saints and their Biographers in the Middle Ages. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Hooker, Morna D. Not Ashamed of the Gospel: New Testament Interpretations of the Death of Christ. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.

Jauss, Hans Robert. Question and Answer: Forms of Dialogic Understanding. Trans. Michael Hays. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

Kieckhefer, Richard. Unquiet Souls: Fourteenth-Century Saints and Their Religious Milieu. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Kolve, V. A. The Play Called Corpus Christi. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966.

Lane, Barbara. The Altar and the Altarpiece: Sacramental Themes in Early Netherlandish Painting. New York: Harper and Row, 1984.

LeGoff, Jacques. History and Memory. Trans. Steven Rendall and Elizabeth Claman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Lochrie, Karma. Margery Kempe and Translations of the Flesh. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991.

Marrow, James H. Passion Iconography in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance: A Study of the Transformation of Sacred Metaphor into Descriptive Narrative. Ars Neerlandica I. Kortrijk: Van Ghemmert, 1979.

Morrison, Karl. "I Am You": The Hermeneutics of Empathy in Western Literature, Theology, and Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Muir, Lynette R. The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Nirenberg, David. Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Perkins, Judith. The Suffering Self: Pain and Narrative Representation in the Early Christian Era. London and New York: Routledge, 1995.

Ricoeur, Paul. Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination. Trans. David Pellauer, ed. Mark I. Wallace. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.

Ringbom, Sixten. Icon to Narrative: The Rise of the Dramatic Close-Up in Fifteenth-century Devotional Painting. Abo: Abo Akademi, 1965.

Rubin, Miri. Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Southern, R.W. The Making of the Middle Ages. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953.

Steinberg, Leo. The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion. London: Faber, 1981.

Sticca, Sandro. The Planctus Mariae in the Dramatic Tradition of the Middle Ages. Trans. Joseph R. Berrigan. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988.

Weithaus, Ulrike, ed. Maps of Flesh and Light: The Religious Experience of Medieval Women Mystics. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1993.

Woolf, Rosemary. The English Mystery Plays. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1972.

 

SECONDARY LITERATURE: ARTICLES

Auerbach, Erich. "Sermo Humilis." In Literary Language and its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages. Trans. Ralph Manheim, foreward Jan M. Ziolkowski, pp. 25-81. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965, 1993.

Chase, Christopher. "`Christ III', `Dream of the Rood' and Early Christian Passion Piety." Viator 11 (1980):11-33.

Cohen, Jeremy. "The Jews as the Killers of Christ in the Latin Tradition from Augustine to Jerome." Traditio 39 (1983):1-27.

Constable, Giles. "A Living Past: The Historical Environment of the Middle Ages." Harvard Library Bulletin, n.s. 1/3 (1990): 49-70.

Delaruelle, Etienne. "La crucifix dans la pit populaire et dans l'art, du VIe au XIe sicle." In La pit populaire au Moyen Age, eds. Raoul Manselli and Andr Vauchez, 27-42. Torino, 1975.

Frank, Grace. "Popular Iconography of the Passion." Publications of the Modern Language Association 46 (1931): 333-40.

Gagnan, Dominique. "Office de la Passion: Priere quotidienne de saint Franois d'Assise." Antonianum 55 (1980): 3-86.

Glasscoe, Marion. "Time of Passion: Latent Relationships between Liturgy and Meditation in Two Middle English Mystics." In Langland, the Mystics and the Medieval English Religious Tradition: Essays in Honour of S.S. Hussey, ed. Helen Phillips, 141-61. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1990.

Gray, Douglas. "The Five Wounds of our Lord." Notes and Queries 208 (1963): 50-1, 82-9, 127-34, 163-8.

Iogna-Prat, Dominique. "La croix, le moine et l'empereur: Dvotion la croix et thologie politique Cluny autour de l'an mille." In Haut moyen-ge: Culture, ducation et socit.  Etudes offertes Pierre Rich, ed. Michel Sot, 449-75. Nanterre, 1990.

James, Mervyn. "Ritual, Drama and Social Body in the Late Medieval English Town." Past and Present. 98 (1983): 3-29.

Jordan, William. "The Last Tormentors of Christ: An Image of the Jew in Ancient and Medieval Exegesis, Art and Drama." The Jewish Quarterly Review 78 (1987): 21-47.

Katzenellenbogen, Adolf. "The Image of Christ in the Early Middle Ages." In Life and Thought in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Robert Stuart Hoyt, 66-84. Minneapolis, 1967.

Marrow, James H. "`Circumdederunt me canus multi': Christ's Tormentors in Northern European Art of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance." Art Bulletin 59/2 (1977): 167-81.

McNally, Robert E. "`Christus' in the Pseudo-Isidorian `Liber de Ortu et Obitu Patriarcharum." Traditio 21 (1965): 167-83.

Panofsky, Erwin. "Imago pietatis: Ein Beitrag zur Typengeschichte des Schmerzensmannes und der Maria mediatrix." Festschrift fr Max J. Friedlaender, 261-308. Leipzig: E.A. Seeman, 1927.

Pezzini, D. "The Theme of the Passion in Richard Rolle and Julian of Norwich." In Religion in the Poetry and Drama of the Late Middle Ages in England, ed. P. Boitani and A. Torti, 29-66. Cambridge: Brewer, 1990.

Robinson, J.W. "The Late Medieval Cult of Jesus and the Mystery Plays." Publications of the Modern Language Association 80 (1965): 508-14.

Rokseth, Y. "La Liturgie de la Passion vers la fin du X sicle." Revue de musicologie 28 (1949): 1-58; 29 (1950): 35-52.

Rohrbacher, S. "The Charge of Deicide. An anti-Jewish motif in medieval Christian art." Journal of Medieval History 17 (1991): 297-321.

Sheingorn, Pamela. "The Sepulcrum Domini: A Study in Art and Liturgy." Studies in Iconography 4 (1978): 37-60.

Sinanoglou, Leah. "The Christ Child as Sacrifice: A Medieval Tradition and the Corpus Christi Plays." Speculum 48 (1973): 491-509.

Szoverffy, Joseph. "Crux fidelis.... Prolegomena to a History of the Holy Cross Hymns." Traditio 22 (1966): 1-42.

Szoverffy, Joseph. "Venantius Fortunatus and the Earliest Hymns to the Holy Cross." Classical Folia 20 (1966): 107-22.

Szoverffy, Joseph. "Early Hymns and Sequences of the Holy Cross." Classical Folia 20 (1966): 3-17.

Zika, C. "Hosts, Processions and Pilgrimages: Controlling the Sacred in Fifteenth-Century Germany." Past and Present 118 (1988): 25-64.

 

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