Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Harry Maier is going to present a working paper on 'Practicising Places: Spatial Imagination, Imperial Location, and Lived Religion in 1 Clement'

After a brief statement of the paper’s main thesis, the discussion introduces 1 Clement to non-specialists as a letter written by a Roman Christ assembly to a Corinthian one in the last quarter of the first century CE. There follows a brief discussion of traditional readings of the letter. Next the discussion turns to spatial study as a social geographical discipline and then applies it to the letter. It argues that two types of civic space – that of concord and of dissent – form the letter’s chief spatial orientation, with characteristic behaviours assigned to each type. Discussion of two passages shows that Clement deploys rhetorical tools (ekphrasis and topographia) to create vivid representation of spaces of concord and discord. Analysis of two further texts considers the way Clement places his listeners within a broader biblical sapiential tradition thereby locating them within a divinely appointed cosmic space. Finally, the paper turns to a long prayer for the emperor at the letter’s conclusion to consider the way Clement places imperial rule within his spatial conceptualization. The paper concludes with a proposal that the letter’s affirmation of imperial concord echoes a Flavian ideology of civic and political harmony following the destructive reign of Nero and the urban Roman civil war of 69 CE that followed his death. The fire of 64 CE and the war left a densely populated city in ruin. The Flavians set to rebuild the city and used a variety of propagandistic means to portray themselves as restorers of harmony. Without arguing for a direct causal connection, the paper concludes by noticing the way Clement’s letter echoes Flavian ideals in its attempt to end faction and restore peace to the Corinthians.

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