RLG203 Lecture 5
- Song: “Death as a Fetish” (STRFKR)
- emphasizing on the “body”
- connection of sex and death with the history in Christianity
- St. Theresa
o 16 century nun
o Severe fasting and sleeplessness; vigilance in prayers and no luxury
o A number of visions in which she saw Jesus before her
o Ecstasy of her devotion (standing in the presence of God)
o The ecstasy of St. Theresa
o Pain and ecstasy gets depicted in this image
o “long spear of gold and thrusting it at time into my heart and to pierce my very entrails;
when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also...etc;
- Christian love in terms of celebration of pain and death
- EXAM: Saturday, April 27, 1-3PM (RAWC)
o Coming to class, reading materials, reading other stuff, commenting on blogs
o 4 essay questions, pick 3
o Questions will be taken from questions that you’ve seen before (weekly guiding
questions or what not)
- Your blog comments should be...
o A vehicle for continued thinking about and analysis of the course material
o Two or three short, well-argued and well written paragraphs
o A clear and coherent response to the prompt
- Why is the “body” so important in Christianity?
o Communion/Eucharist and using the bread as representation of Jesus’ body
o Pauline idea of the body as a temple; what you do physically to it matters
o Resurrection and rapture
o Meals is important in any ritual meals/celebrations
- How did Christian ideas about death and the body challenge prevailing non-Christian ideas in
the Roman Empire?
o Holy death was baffling to the Romans; touching a dead body?
o Mostly in Brown’s article
- How do we quantify the quality of a death? How do we account it as noble or ignoble? More
worthy or not? The type of death?
- How do we distinguish between “martyrdom” (or “noble death”) and “suicide”?
o Important thing is choice
o Martyrdom means the person could’ve avoided death but chose not to; died in the
hands of others
o Suicide means dying in one’s own hands
- Martyr: a Greek word meaning ‘witness’...someone who gives a testimony o Someone who dies for their religious beliefs rather than renouncing their faith
o Not just in Christianity but in many religions
o Not just religious martyrs...also political martyrs...dying for a cause (ex. Mahatma
Ghandi, Martin Luther)
- The death of Socrates
o Jacques-Louis David, 1787
o There’s a trial going on
o Socrates gets charged and guilty of corrupting the youth
o Questioning about everything and he got annoying to other people
o When found guilty by the citizens of Athens, they asked Socrates what penalty and the
prostitutions will choose one and then the judge picks the best one
o Death or give me a banquet and the key to the city
o Law in Athens is more important and he wanted to keep philosophising
o Noble death or stupid?
- Jones town
o 972 people all died by cyanide Kool-aid
o They thought they were oppressed
- How do we distinguish between “martyrdom” and “suicide”?
o A man...who jumps off a bridge and kills himself?
o A man...who “robs” a bank?
o A soldier who jumps on a grenade?
o A depressed soldier who jumps on a grenade?
o A cancer patient who overdoses on sleeping pills to avoid a slow and painful death?
o A cancer patient who can be cured...but at great financial cost?
o A cancer patient who can be cured...at little cost?
- How do we distinguish?
o Context and situation
o Based on personal beliefs
o Consequences of why they did it
o Imploring moral judgments
- Martyrs are made
o Act itself is not the issue
o Interpretation and memory of a particular religious community in which others may see
it as outrageous but the one community may see it as noble
o Have to have a community upholding it and justifying it and how it is discussed by
- “Being killed is an event. Martydom is a literary form, a genre.” – Daniel Boyarin
- Why is the “body” so important in Christianity?
- Common symbol is the cross (instrument of torture and death)
- Martyrs are talked about as second Christs in which they follow Jesus’ example
o Trial of some sort and the choice
o They can escape or recant about being a Christian - Martydom of the Seven Maccabees
o Antonio Ciseri
o Jewish woman and her 7 sons
o Eat pork or be killed
- Mark 10: 32-34; 38
o Prophesising His own death and then asking if people are able to follow in His example
of suffering and dying?
o Second baptism (in blood)
- Mark 13:9
o Bear witness; does it mean testifying in words or actually dying as an example?
- The Stoning of St. Stephen
o Accused of blasphemy
o Jesus is going to destroy the temple
o First martyr of Christianity
o Following in the footsteps of Jesus
o “winning the crown of martyrdom” because Stephen means crown
- Olympic victors will wear the loral wreath crown
o Athletic metaphors to talk about martyrdom
- Athens; what happen in coliseum?
o Gladiators fighting to the death
- Christians dragged into arenas to be killed
- Agon? Context of battles to win this crown of martyrdom
- Ignatius of Antioch
o Letter to the Romans
o “dying willingly in God’s sake, do not prevent it” “allow me to be eaten by beasts, which
are my way of reaching God”
- Martydom of Polycarp
o “whose martyrdom all desire to imitate as having been altogether consistent with the
Gospel of Christ.” “endurance overcome the unjust governor...acquired crown of
immortality...with the apostles and all the righteous in heaven...”
- Pliny the Younger
o Como, Italy
o Lawyer and magistrate
o Letters writing to the emperor
o 112 BCE
o If Christians wasn’t buying sacrificial meat, then there are consequences
o Not seen as Jews, but something different
o Reason why Romans have a problem with Christians, they’re not doing their duty to
their state and to the Roman gods; if not paying respect to gods, then the gods won’t
respect the Romans
o There are religious and political implications
- Nero setting the fire; fastened the guilt to the Christians to avoid the guilt - Romans said they weren’t singling the Christians out
- The Christians see themselves as being persecuted by the Roman empire
- Receiving a receipt to say whether they followed the Roman rules or remained true to being a
- A lot of Christians weren’t killed, they weren’t rounded up and massacre
- What’s important is that tens and thousands of people are telling the stories of the martyrdom
of the people
- St. Sebastian
o Francesco Botticini, late 15 c.
o Shot by arrows but wasn’t killed
o Nurse back to health
o Then emperor beat him to death again
- Two women who were taken prisoners and insisted that they were Christians and happy to die
for it; the text purports to be Perpetua’s prison diary
o Was pregnant when she was in prison
o Willingly renounced her baby and her father, but refer to the heavenly Father
o Breast drying up and not dripping with milk and she starts to become a man??? (bizarre
o Doing battle in the arena
o Inverts gender and sexual dynamics of the Roman empire
o Perpetua is seen to be winning in the Christian text
o The gladiator is coming to kill her and his sword is quivering and she is the one driving
the sword into her throat
Lots of sexual references and the switch roles as she acting as the man and the
gladiator becoming the “virgin” girl
o Communicated that if a woman in Perpetua’s circumstances can do it, so can you
- Endurance; to suffer; not good amongst the Romans but Christians continue to hold it up
- Renunciation of family and earthly ties
- Esquire magazine
o It used to be a serious politically provocative
o Passion of Muhammad Ali (in the 1960s)
Out of jail on bail; been in jail because he refuse to serve in the American war in
The Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas
- Why did early Christians ce