”As Soon as I Believed in Christ, I Received the Sanity Both of My Soul and My Body” : The Uses of Healing in Late Ancient Roman Passions

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202003121538
Title: ”As Soon as I Believed in Christ, I Received the Sanity Both of My Soul and My Body” : The Uses of Healing in Late Ancient Roman Passions
Author: Vuoksenmaa, Riikka
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Teologinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology
Helsingfors universitet, Teologiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202003121538
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/313278
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: The Religious Roots of Europe
The Religious Roots of Europe
The Religious Roots of Europe
Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to study healing scenes in late ancient Roman martyr passions, the gesta martyrum. The passions have been relatively understudied until recently, and their storylines, in particular, have rarely been studied. The high incidence of miraculous healings has directed me to focus on depictions of physical, sensory and mental infirmities. The purposes their healing serves in the passions are at the centre of this study. My research questions are the following: Why are people with infirmities healed in the passions? What kind of infirmities are healed? Are there positive depictions of infirmity? To illustrate the diversity of emphases in different passions, I have studied four separate narratives, each one from a different thematic point of view. First, I focus on the relationship between healing and conversion. Secondly, I study the use of infirmities in demeaning one’s enemies. Thirdly, I study virginity and its protection by infirmity and its removal. In my final chapter, I discuss if it is possible to see the bodies of martyrs as infirm bodies. I use theories and concepts from disability studies are used to study the representations and uses of infirm bodies in the narratives. David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder’s narrative prosthesis calls attention to the narrative’s exploitation of disabled bodies to pursue abstract goals. Anna Rebecca Solevåg’s concept of disability invective focuses on the use of disability as an accusation. Crip theory will offer tools to discuss inclusive portrayals of infirmity and whether or not these can be found in the passions. The results of the study show that infirm bodies were valuable tools which are used for multiple, partly overlapping goals. Healings promote saints, attract converts, and ridicule the enemies of the Christians. Infirmity is particularly often related to ideas of masculinity which accusations and inflictions of infirmity effectively weaken. A specific infirmity is chosen to be healed because its connotations are useful in pursuit of specific narrative goals. The healing usually aims at the future, as the passions emphasise the newly healed person’s future life as a non-infirm Christian. Infirm bodies are easily instrumentalised because in the logic of the passions, their existence contains an objective for change. An infirm body is always seen in need of eventual healing – if not in this world then in the afterlife. The ways the passions use infirmity marginalise it into something that mostly exists to prove a point. Similar problems can be encountered even today when people with infirmities hear or read narratives containing similar tones. The use of bodies with infirmities stands out for its flexibility and unexpected versatility and calls for further study.
Subject: healing
disability
martyrdom


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