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The Bride of Christ Goes to Hell


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. A Match Made in Heaven: The Bride in the Early Church
Chapter 2. The Church Fathers and the Embodied Bride
Chapter 3. The Barbarian Queen
Chapter 4. An Age of Affect, 1050-1200 (1): Consensuality and Vocation
Chapter 5. An Age of Affect, 1050-1200 (2): The Conjugal Reflex
Chapter 6. The Eroticized Bride of Hagiography
Chapter 7. Descent into Hell

List of Abbreviations

About the Author

Dyan Elliott is Peter B. Ritzma Professor of the Humanities in the Department of History at Northwestern University and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. She is the author of Fallen Bodies: Pollution, Sexuality, and Demonology in the Middle Ages, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.


"This is a great book, with an overarching design, a bold and provocative argument, and a sweeping narrative, fashioned with a penetrating look and written in a reassuringly smart, witty voice."-Gabor Klaniczay, Central European University

"A dazzling book . . . As Elliott persuasively argues, the seeming elevation of the religious woman as a bride of Christ also raised the specter of her potential faithlessness: the bride was held to be permanently at risk of falling into the arms of the wrong lover, whether human or, worse, demonic. By the later Middle Ages, the bride of Christ was on a downward trajectory . . . As Elliott so convincingly shows, the virgin bride was a dangerous identification for women from the very outset: the virgin, seemingly elevated as Christ's bride, had nowhere to go but down."-Church History

"Elliott's work provides an excellent overview of both the metaphorical and literal bride of Christ who undoubtedly played a central role in the evolution of Christianity . . . Despite the dark overtones implicit in Elliott's brilliant title and argument, this book is a must read for those interested in religious or gender history of the Middle Ages."-Comitatus

"Elliott's historiographical account is an illuminating one. Her command of primary source material, and sensitivity to theories of corporeality, comingle in a compelling work of cultural history. Incorporating biblical commentaries, hagiographies, treatises, sermons, natural philosophy, chronicles, inquisitorial documents, and secular literature, Elliott weaves the particularities of heterogeneous historic moments and theological positions into a continuous narrative . . . Elliott shows convincingly that not all ideals, even religious ones, should be incarnated."-Anglican and Episcopal History

This provocative, meticulously documented text analyzes a wide range of familiar and lesser-known medieval authors on an important topic . . . the journey is engaging and instructive."-Catholic Historical Review

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