The Art of Listening in the Early Church

Paperback | June 21, 2015

byCarol Harrison

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How did people think about listening in the ancient world, and what evidence do we have of it in practice? The Christian faith came to the illiterate majority in the early Church through their ears. This proved problematic: the senses and the body had long been held in suspicion as all tootemporal, mutable and distracting. Carol Harrison argues that despite profound ambivalence on these matters, in practice, the senses, and in particular the sense of hearing, were ultimately regarded as necessary - indeed salvific - constraints for fallen human beings. By examining early catechesis,preaching and prayer, she demonstrates that what illiterate early Christians heard both formed their minds and souls and, above all, enabled them to become "literate" listeners; able not only to grasp the rule of faith but also tacitly to follow the infinite variations on it which were played out inearly Christian teaching, exegesis and worship. It becomes clear that listening to the faith was less a matter of rationally appropriating facts and more an art which needed to be constantly practiced: for what was heard could not be definitively fixed and pinned down, but was ultimately the Word ofthe unknowable, transcendent God. This word demanded of early Christian listeners a response - to attend to its echoes, recollect and represent it, stretch out towards it source, and in the process, be transformed by it.

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How did people think about listening in the ancient world, and what evidence do we have of it in practice? The Christian faith came to the illiterate majority in the early Church through their ears. This proved problematic: the senses and the body had long been held in suspicion as all tootemporal, mutable and distracting. Carol Harris...

Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity in the faculty of Theology and Religion and a canon of Christ Church, Oxford.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.69 inPublished:June 21, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198744951

ISBN - 13:9780198744955

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: Voices of the PageFirst Impromptu: The Other Side of Language or listening to the voice of BeingI: An Auditory Culture1. Listening in Cultural Context2. Rhetoric and the Art of Listening3. Images and EchoesII: Theme and Variations4. Catechesis: Sounding the ThemeSecond Impromptu : Playing ball: the art of reception5. Preaching: Variations on the ThemeThird Impromptu: Singing the bluesIII: From Listening to Hearing6. The Polyphony of Prayer7. From the bottom to the bottomlessBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"In this important contribution to patristics, Harrison explores how practices of listening and speaking shaped Christianity's transmission to largerly illiterate audiences in the fourth and fifth centuries. Students of early Christian history and theology will find this book worthwhile." --A. W. Klink, Choice