Read Jesus As Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA) by Caroline Walker Bynum Online

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From the Introduction, by Caroline Walker Bynum: The opportunity to rethink and republish several of my early articles in combination with a new essay on the thirteenth century has led me to consider the continuity-both of argument and of approach-that underlies them. In one sense, their interrelationship is obvious. The first two address a question that was more in the foFrom the Introduction, by Caroline Walker Bynum: The opportunity to rethink and republish several of my early articles in combination with a new essay on the thirteenth century has led me to consider the continuity-both of argument and of approach-that underlies them. In one sense, their interrelationship is obvious. The first two address a question that was more in the forefront of scholarship a dozen years ago than it is today: the question of differences among religious orders.  These two essays set out a method of reading texts for imagery and borrowings as well as for spiritual teaching in order to determine whether individuals who live in different institutional settings hold differing assumptions about the significance of their lives.  The essays apply the method to the broader question of differences between regular canons and monks and the narrower question of differences between one kind of monk--the Cistercians--and other religious groups, monastic and nonmonastic, of the twelfth century.  The third essay draws on some of the themes of the first two, particularly the discussion of canonical and Cistercian conceptions of the individual brother as example, to suggest  an interpretation of twelfth-century religious life as concerned with the nature of groups as well as with affective expression.  The fourth essay, again on Cistercian monks, elaborates themes of the first three. Its subsidiary goals are to provide further evidence on distinctively Cistercian attitudes and to elaborate the Cistercian ambivalence about vocation that I delineate in the essay on conceptions of community. It also raises questions that have now become popular in nonacademic as well as academic circles: what significance should we give to the increase of feminine imagery in twelfth-century religious writing by males? Can we learn anything about distinctively male or female spiritualities from this feminization of language? The fifth essay differs from the others in turning to the thirteenth century rather than the twelfth, to women rather than men, to detailed analysis of many themes in a few thinkers rather than one theme in many writers; it is nonetheless based on the conclusions of the earlier studies. The sense of monastic vocation and of the priesthood, of the authority of God and self, and of the significance of gender that I find in the three great mystics of late thirteenth-century Helfta can be understood only against the background of the growing twelfth- and thirteenth-century concern for evangelism and for an approachable God, which are the basic themes of the first four essays. Such connections between the essays will be clear to anyone who reads them. There are, however, deeper methodological and interpretive continuities among them that I wish to underline here. For these studies constitute a plea for an approach to medieval spirituality that is not now--and perhaps has never been--dominant in medieval scholarship. They also provide an interpretation of the religious life of the high Middle Ages that runs against the grain of recent emphases on the emergence of "lay spirituality." I therefore propose to give, as introduction, both a discussion of recent approaches to medieval piety and a short sketch of the religious history of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, emphasizing those themes that are the context for my specific investigations. I do not want to be misunderstood. In providing here a discussion of approaches to and trends in medieval religion I am not claiming that the studies that follow constitute a general history nor that my method should replace that of social, institutional, and intellectual historians.  A handful of Cistercians does not typify the twelfth century, nor three nuns the thirteenth. Religious imagery, on which I concentrate, does not tell us how people lived. But because these essays approach texts in a way others have not done, focus on imagery others have not found important, and insist, as others have not insisted, on comparing groups to other groups (e.g., comparing what is peculiarly male to what is female as well as vice versa), I want to call attention to my approach to and my interpretation of the high Middle Ages in the hope of encouraging others to ask similar questions....

Title : Jesus As Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA)
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ISBN : 9780520052222
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 280 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Jesus As Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA) Reviews

  • Kathryn Mattern
    2019-03-14 14:35

    I read this a few years before meeting Amma and before reading 'Holy Feast Holy Fast' by the same author. I liked this book because I was moving towards a 'God-as-Mother' spirituality and also because I enjoyed the window it gave me into the spirituality of medieval women and into the political situation in the church at that time, a time of widespread 'heresy' and the beginning of the peripatetic 'evangelical' movements of the Dominicans and Franciscans. The political overtones to these times eventually led to the suppression and control of women's spirituality. But not before Jesus as Mother was revealed and celebrated!

  • Siria
    2019-02-22 10:42

    The title is quite misleading: if Walker Bynum had simply titled the book Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages, it would have been far more accurate. Only one chapter out of the five concentrates on maternal/feminine imagery of Jesus—the unitary theme of the book seems to me rather ambiguity in religious writings of the 12th and 13th centuries towards religious authority, and how that reflected itself in the affective responses of both male and female religious. This work was no doubt quite ground-breaking when first published, but thanks to both new scholarship, and Bynum's influence on much of that scholarship, Jesus as Mother feels at once a little dated and a little obvious. Still, there is still much of interest, and much detailed analysis, in the last two or three chapters, to make it worth reading. The first two, however, I can't really recommend—the typologies of canons and monks is not my area of interest, and I found them comparatively tedious and poorly argued next to the remainder of the book.

  • Kathryn
    2019-02-22 18:15

    The tile may sound blasphemous and aspects may seem almost disturbing to some (i.e., feminine images of Jesus, i.e., nursing--not that it's saying Jesus was a woman, just that some chose to worship the feminine attributes in him) but I found it a warm, loving portrait of Jesus, especially fascinating to see how he was viewed at a certain period in history--and this was a more engrossing book than some of our grad-level readings tended to be.COURSE: GENEDER AND RELIGION IN CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE

  • Daniel Burton-Rose
    2019-03-18 11:44

    The third and fourth essays in this collection are sophisticated meditations on the relation between metaphor and social reality. Pulling back from a wish-fulfillment strand in late '60s, early '70s feminist historiography, Walker Bynum shows that positive metaphorical language related to femininity employed by men did not necessarily mean improved social conditions for women; rather, it could imply an actual decline in the lot of real women, rather than idealized abstractions.

  • Laura
    2019-02-24 15:41

    HA HA! I finally finished this! I think when this came out it was probably more ground breaking than it seems to me now, since my curriculum has been heavily influenced by Bynum. But it's nice to have all this argument in one place, and some new to me, more specific arguments as well. It is definitely a book that you need to sit down and read each essay all at once - not something to read through a little bit at a time, because you'll lose track of the arguments.