The Grotesque Body in Early Christian Discourse: Hell, by Istvan Czachesz

By Istvan Czachesz

Early Christian apocryphal and conical files current us with ugly photographs of the human physique, frequently combining the playful and funny with the repulsive, and apprehensive. First to 3rd century Christian literature used to be formed via the discourse round and imagery of the human physique. This learn analyses how the iconography of physically cruelty and visceral morality was once produced and sophisticated from the very commence of Christian background. The resources variety throughout Greek comedy, Roman and Jewish demonology, and metamorphosis traditions. The examine unearths how those photos originated, have been followed, and have been formed to the provider of a doctrinally and psychologically persuasive Christian message.

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In Chapter 2, I will analyze the underworld of the Apocalypse of Paul (or Visio Pauli) and inquire further about the sources of grotesque body imagery in the underworld. In addition to surveying literary sources, I will address yet another exciting question: how far did the images of tortures and distorted bodies in early Christian literature mirror the juridical practice of the Roman Empire? In Chapter 3, I will compare the Apocalypse of Peter with the Egyptian Book of the Dead and ask about the connection between visions of morality and the structure of hell.

In this book, I integrate the subjects of hell, scatology, and metamorphosis into a unified treatment of the grotesque body, and invite classical literature, apocalyptic sources, and narrative texts into the discussion. The word “grotesque” did not exist in Antiquity. The expression was coined from the Italian grotto in the fifteenth century when Nero’s Domus Aurea was excavated in Rome. ”5 In spite of the recent popularity of the notion of the grotesque in the humanities, it is not easy to give a short definition of the concept.

16. Mt. 17:1–13; Mk 9:2–13; Lk. 9:28–36. 17. Cf. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened, pp. 308–11; Bauckham, The Fate of the Dead, pp. 166–67. 18. For the euphemism, see the examples discussed above. Cf. Bauckham, The Fate of the Dead, p. 215. 19. The Greek text is fragmentary; for different emendations, see Kraus and Nicklas, Das Petrusevangelium und die Petrusapokalypse, pp. 110–12. The Ethiopic has infanticide as a separate sin. Cf. Himmelfarb, Tours of Hell, pp. 96–97. 20. One of the Ethiopic manuscripts adds idolatry.

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