Inscribing Faith in Late Antiquity considers the Greek and Latin texts inscribed in churches and chapels in the late antique Mediterranean (c. 300-800 CE), compares them to similar texts from pagan, Jewish, and Muslim spaces of worship, and explores how they functioned both textually and visually.
These texts not only recorded the names and prayers of the faithful, but were powerful verbal and visual statements of cultural values and religious beliefs, conveying meaning through their words as well as through their appearances. In fact, the two were intimately connected. All of these texts—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and pagan—acted visually, embracing their own materiality as mosaic, paint, or carved stone. Colourful and artfully arranged, the inscriptions framed human relationships with the divine, encouraged responses from readers, and made prayers material. In the first in-depth examination of the inscriptions as words and as images, the author reimagines the range of aesthetic, cultural, and religious experiences that were possible in spaces of worship.
Inscribing Faith in Late Antiquity is essential reading for those interested in Roman, late antique, and Byzantine material and visual culture, inscriptions and other texts, and religious life in the ancient Mediterranean.
List of figures
Chapter One: Introduction
Writing and reading in the temple
Literacy as red herring?
Chapter Two: Material texts
The colors and surfaces of texts
Colorful texts and their contexts
Textual materiality and immateriality
Texts in (and of) pieces
Colored texts, colored forms
For the love of materials
Chapter Three: Framing texts, framing belief
Framing the late antique frame
Framing texts in the Roman world: The tabula ansata
Tabulae from sculpture to mosaic
Framing in circles
Object frames and Christian innovation
Framing religious experience
Chapter Four: Ekphrasis and experience
Ekphrasis on the move
Reading in motion
Responding to interiors
Reading and voicing voice
Chapter Five: Embedding texts into images
The origins and functions of Christian "titles"
Tituli on and off the page
Tituli in the east
From wall to floor: Reading texts underfoot
Viewing sacred speech: The unfurled scroll
From scroll to book
Titles for images?
Chapter Six: Embedded prayers
Prayer in the late antique world
Praying in motion
Motives and modes of prayer
Sanctifying the interior, part by part
Writing, reading, seeing, praying
Prayers for the faithful
Conclusion: Reading and seeing faith
Since the Renaissance - and arguably much earlier - the visual and verbal remains of the Greco-Roman world have been a constant source of inspiration and enlightenment. This series offers an interdisciplinary forum for research into those ancient literary and artistic cultures, exploring classical materials both on their own terms and in light of their subsequent receptions. Attuned to the ways in which different cultural forms mediate different aspects of the classical past, the series explores both the fundamental problems and opportunities of reconstructing Greco-Roman antiquity from its surviving archaeological and textual traces.
A defining interest of the series lies in the intersection between ancient visual and verbal media. In what ways do images and texts construct different records of the classical past, and how did ancient artists and writers themselves theorize the relations between what can be seen and what can be said? Drawing on recent comparative literary and visual cultural studies, series-volumes explore how interdisciplinary approaches can illuminate different aspects of ancient cultural and intellectual history. At the same time, they demonstrate how classical materials can nuance more modern theories of visual and verbal mediation in turn.
The series will publish monographs and edited volumes on all periods of Greco-Roman history, from Archaic Greece through to Late Antiquity. We are particularly interested in projects that are structured according to theme, medial difference or methodological problem rather than chronological timeframe. Above all, volumes aim to probe, interrogate and provoke: by crossing traditional disciplinary and subdisciplinary boundaries within and beyond the field of classics, while also drawing on approaches developed outside its historicist parameters, Image, Text and Culture in Classical Antiquity engages a broad readership from a range of different academic perspectives.