This title was first published in 2001. These collected essays by Patricia Cox Miller identify new possibilities of meaning in the study of religion in late antiquity. The book addresses the topic of the imaginative mindset of late ancient authors from a variety of Greco-Roman religious traditions. Attending to the play of language, as well as to the late ancient sensitivity to image, metaphor, and paradox, Cox Miller's work highlights the poetizing sensibility that marked many of the texts of this period and draws on methods of interpretation from a variety of contemporary literary-critical theories. This book will appeal to scholars of late antiquity, religious literature, and literary critical theory more widely, illustrating how fruitful dialogue across the centuries can be - not only in eliciting aspects of late ancient texts that have gone unnoticed but also in showing that many 'modern' ideas, such as Roland Barthes', were actually already alive and well in ancient texts.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Poetic images and nature: Preface; Adam ate from the animal tree: a bestial poetry of soul; Origen on the bestial soul: a poetics of nature; The Physiologus: A Poetics of Nature; Jerome’s centuar: a hyper-icon of the desert; Poetic images and the body: Preface; Plenty sleeps there: the myth of Eros and Psyche in Plotinus and Gnosticism; Pleasure of the text, text of pleasure: Eros and language. Origen’s Commentary on the Song of Song; The blazing body: ascetic desire in Jerome’s Letter to Eustochium; Desert ascetism and The body from nowhere; Poetic images and theology: Preface; In my Father’s house are many dwelling places: Origen’s De principiis; Origen and the witch of Endor: toward an iconoclastic typology; Poetic words, abysmal words: reflections on Origen’s hermeneutics; In praise of nonsense: a piety of the alphabet in ancient magic; Words with an alien voice: gnostics, scripture and canon; Bibliography.
'Patricia Cox Miller [is] a master of the skillfully wrought essay, able to communicate far beyond her subdisciplines. Students of theology, hermeneutics, and comparative literature would do well to take notice... Miller's essays make their most eloquent case for the ongoing relevance of Early Christian Studies to contemporary critical debate... [these essays present] vivid and imaginative visions.' Journal of Religion 'There is very little work in late antique studies comparable to this collection. Cox Miller has brought the task of literary theory to late antiquity in a more thorough, and consequently more convincing, manner than anyone else... a book of essays that collectively have taught scholars of late aniquity so much about how to read our texts in the unsettling ways they were intended to be read.' The Heythrop Journal