The Grief of God: Images of the Suffering Jesus in Late Medieval England

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byEllen M. Ross

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Graphic portrayals of the suffering Jesus Christ pervade late medieval English art, literature, drama, and theology. These images have been interpreted as signs of a new emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. To others they indicate a fascination with a terrifying God of vengeance and a morbidobsession with death. In The Grief of God, however, Ellen Ross offers a different understanding of the purpose of this imagery and its meaning to the people of the time. Analyzing a wide range of textual and pictorial evidence, the author finds that the bleeding flesh of the wounded Savior manifestsdivine presence; in the intensified corporeality of the suffering Jesus whose flesh not only condemns, but also nurtures, heals, and feeds, believers meet a trinitarian God of mercy. Ross explores the rhetoric of transformation common to English medieval artistic, literary, and devotional sources.The extravagant depictions of pain and anguish, the author shows, constitute an urgent appeal to respond to Jesus' expression of love. She also explains how the inscribing of Christ's pain on the bodies of believers at times erased the boundaries between human and divine so that holy persons, and inparticular, holy women, participated in the transformative power of Christ. In analyzing the dialects of mercy and justice; the construction of sacred space and time; sacraments and ritual celebration, social action, and divine judgment; and the dynamics of women's public religious authority, thisstudy of religion and culture explores the meaning of the late medieval Christian affirmation that God bled and wept and suffered on the cross to draw persons to Godself. This interdisciplinary study of sermon literature, manuscript illuminations and church wall paintings, drama, hagiographicnarratives, and spiritual treaties illuminates the religious sensibilities, practices, and beliefs that constellate around the late medieval fascination with the bleeding body of the suffering Jesus Christ.

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Graphic portrayals of the suffering Jesus Christ pervade late medieval English art, literature, drama, and theology. These images have been interpreted as signs of a new emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. To others they indicate a fascination with a terrifying God of vengeance and a morbidobsession with death. In The Grief of God, howe...

Ellen M. Ross is at Swarthmore College.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.49 × 6.38 × 0.71 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019510451X

ISBN - 13:9780195104516

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"This is an outstanding work of scholarship. Not only does Ross offer an insightful exposition of major religious genres from sermon to drama to liturgical book to saintly life, she does so in persuasive pursuit of a highly significant thesis."--Religious Studies Review