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Grotesque Body in Early Christian Literature: Hell, Scatology and Metamorphosis (Istvan Czachesz) Hardcover Book, (Acumen Publishing, 2012) 9781845538859

Title: Grotesque Body in Early Christian Literature: Hell, Scatology and Metamorphosis

Author: Czachesz, Istvan

Publisher: Acumen Publishing; Publication Date: 2012

Hardcover; ISBN: 9781845538859

Volumes: 1; Pages: 240

List Price in Hardcover: $95.00 Our price: $76.99

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The Grotesque Body in Early Christian Literature proposes that the rhetorical appeal of first and second century Christian literature was greatly enhanced by the creation of a powerful discourse about the grotesque human body in the domains of moral control, social interaction, and Christology. Early Christian documents, both canonical and apocryphal, present grotesque images of the human body, which combine playful, attention grabbing, and humorous motifs with confusing, repulsive, and fearful traits. Despite the current interest in the grotesque among literary critics, and the never-ceasing popularity of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic themes, no monographic treatment has been yet dedicated to the uses of the grotesque in early Christian literature. This study attempts to fill the void.

In the expectations of the modern reader, early Christianity is rarely if ever associated with laughter, not to speak of its plebeian variety, and the images of cruelty and distortion in Christian thought are mostly associated with the "dark" Middle Ages. This study shows where these images originated and how they were mobilized to create a cognitively appealing and rhetorically convincing Christian discourse already at the very beginnings of Christian history. Different aspects of the grotesque body are examined in each chapter in the context of representative source texts and their literary parallels. Among the historical sources of the grotesque, Greek Comedy, Roman and Jewish demonology, metamorphosis traditions, as well as various religious influences are considered. In addition to paying attention to the literary, social, and historical contexts of the grotesque, the book seeks to understand its psychological and cognitive relevance that made it such a powerful literary device. While the largest part of the monograph deals with Christian writings of the first to early third centuries, additional perspectives are offered on late Antiquity and beyond.


Part One: Hell: The Fearful Grotesque

1. Grotesque Bodies in the Christian Underworld: The Apocalypse of Peter

2. The Bride of the Demon

3. Torture in Hell and Reality: The Visio Pauli

Part Two: Scatology: Domesticating the Grotesque

4. Deviance Labelling: The Politics of the Grotesque

5. Scatological Humor in the Acts of Andrew

Part Three: Metamorphoses: The Bright Side of the Grotesque

6. Polymorphy

7. Speaking Asses and Other Devoted Animals

8. Metamorphoses of Christ

9. The Grotesque in Cognitive Perspective

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