Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, Vol 6, No 1-3 (2010)

The Gospels as Imperialized Sites of Memory in Late Ancient Christianity

Jason T. Larson
Issued Date: 27 Jun 2012


This article considers the intersection of Christian and imperial memory in the physical Gospel book. Besides describing the function of gospel books in the post-Constantine Roman Empire, it examines the connection between the Roman construction and production of sites of memory that established Roman imperium in the Mediterranean and the development of the Christian Gospel codex as a site of memory within Christianity. It also explores the related issues of imperial and divine power as manifest through material things, the rhetoric of seeing and iconicity, and the invented tradition of Christian orthodoxy. The article shows that the Christian Gospels and Roman sites of memory, despite a vast difference in their intended functions and original uses, both established imperium. It maintains that the creation of the Gospels' imperial iconicity was not based on their function as texts of spiritual enlightenment in late ancient Christianity, but on the fact that the production of Gospels as material cultural objects depended on Roman cultural exemplars and ideological rhetoric.

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DOI: 10.1558/post.v6i1-3.291


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