The Baptized Muse: Early Christian Poetry as Cultural Authority by Karla PollmannThe Baptized Muse: Early Christian Poetry as Cultural Authority by Karla Pollmann

The Baptized Muse: Early Christian Poetry as Cultural Authority

byKarla Pollmann

Hardcover | March 11, 2017

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With the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire increasing numbers of educated people converted to this new belief. As Christianity did not have its own educational institutions the issue of how to harmonize pagan education and Christian convictions became increasingly pressing. Especiallyclassical poetry, the staple diet of pagan education, was considered to be morally corrupting (due to its deceitful mythological content) and damaging for the salvation of the soul (because of the false gods it advocated). But Christianity recoiled from an unqualified anti-intellectual attitude,while at the same time the experiment of creating an idiosyncratic form of genuinely Christian poetry failed (the sole exception being the poet Commodianus). In The Baptized Muse: Early Christian Poetry as Cultural Authority, Karla Pollmann argues that, instead, Christian poets made creative use of the classical literary tradition, and - in addition to blending it with Judaeo-Christian biblical exegesis - exploited poetry's special ability of enhancingcommunicative effectiveness and impact through aesthetic means. Pollman explores these strategies through a close analysis of a wide range of Christian, and for comparison partly also pagan, writers mainly from the fourth to sixth centuries. She reveals that early Christianity was not a hermeticallysealed uniform body, but displays a rich spectrum of possibilities in dealing with the past and a willingness to engage with and adapt the surrounding culture(s), thereby developing diverse and changing responses to historical challenges. By demonstrating throughout that authority is a key inunderstanding the long denigrated and misunderstood early Christian poets, this book reaches the ground-breaking conclusion that early Christian poetry is an art form that gains its justification by adding cultural authority to Christianity. Thus, in a wider sense it engages with the recentlydeveloped interdisciplinary scholarly interest in aspects of religion as cultural phenomena.

About The Author

Karla Pollmann is Professor of Classics at the University of Kent. Professor Pollmann is the co-editor of Augustine and the Disciplines: From Cassiciacum to Confessions (2007) and Augustine and the Disciplines: From Cassiciacum to Confessions (2005). She is also Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of August...

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Title:The Baptized Muse: Early Christian Poetry as Cultural AuthorityFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0 inPublished:March 11, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198726481

ISBN - 13:9780198726487

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Table of Contents

I. Introduction: How to Approach Early Christian PoetryII. The Poetics of Authority in Early Christian Poetry1. Tradition and Innovation. The Transformation of Classical Literary Genres in Christian Late Antiquity2. The Test Case of Epic Poetry in Late Antiquity3. Re-appropriation and Disavowal: Pagan and Christian Authorities in Cassiodorus and Venantius FortunatusIII. Christian Authority and Poetic Succession1. Sex and Salvation in the Vergilian Cento of the Fourth Century2. Versifying Authoritative Prose: Poetical Paraphrases of Eucherius of Lyon from Venantius Fortunatus to Siegbert of Gembloux3. Jesus Christ and Dionysus: Rewriting Euripides in the Byzantine Cento Christus PatiensIV. Poetic Authority in Rivalling Cultural and Theological Discourses1. Culture as Curse or Blessing? Prudentius and Avitus on the Origins of Culture2. Christianity as Decadence or Progress in Pseudo-Hilary s Paraphrastic Verse Summary of the History of Salvation3. How Far Can Sainthood Go? St Martin of Tours in Two Hagiographic Epics of Late AntiquityV. Conclusion: Authority as a Key to Understanding Early Christian PoetryVI. Bibliography