"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Oh, No, You're Not Wearing THAT to Church

Who among us--parents or children--has not argued over the "appropriateness" of wearing some get-up or other to church? Who among us, Pharisee-like, has not looked askance at something worn by our neighbor in the nearby pew and prayed "I thank thee Lord that thou didst not create me a slob like this poor fattie?" It seems to have been forever thus if a new book about Tertullian is any indication. 

Tertullian in the Latin tradition, like Origen in the Greek, is somewhat sui generis. Nevertheless, his influence was and is still considerable. A new book looks at what he thought and wrote about an issue that seems eternally to rile Christians: what to wear--to church and in general. Carly Daniel-Hughes, The Salvation of the Flesh in Tertullian of Carthage: Dressing for the Resurrection (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 192pp. 

About this book the publisher tells us:
Why did the influential Christian thinker, Tertullian of Carthage (160-220 C.E.), while addressing the critical issue of salvation of the flesh, write about clothing? Why did he care what Christians wore? Carly Daniel-Hughes answers that in early Christian communities clothing tied to identity and theology. Placing Tertullian’s writings in the Roman culture of dress, she shows that in them men’s dress is used to envision Christian masculinity as non-Roman and anti-imperial. His concerns about women’s dress, however, reveal internal Christian debates about the nature of the flesh and the possibility of its transformation in to a resurrected, glorious body.

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