The Cross and the Throne: The Genesis of the Idea of Victimhood in the Context of Political Theology Restricted; Files Only

Galona, Yevgen (Summer 2019)

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Despite the obvious negative connotations of weakness, misery, and pain associated with the status of the victim, the paradoxical trend is rapidly developing in which victimhood appears to be a desirable identity. In addressing this problem my dissertation presents an interdisciplinary inquiry into the genealogy of victimhood reconstructing the main turning points in the formation of the concept and its cognate sentiments. I argue that our contemporary understanding of victimhood where the victim gains a special social advantage because of society’s ethical disposition to support those who have been unjustly hurt is primarily a remnant of the political theology of the High Medieval period. By analyzing iconography, the devotional tradition, and theological debates on the nature of the Atonement, I demonstrate how the idea of victimhood changed within Christian discourse. I further argue that these transformations cannot be understood outside of the confluence of private piety and the Church’s quest to consolidate political power during the 11th-13th centuries. These transformations became crucial for the Church because the signifiers of victimhood were incorporated into a rethinking of the idea of authority by theologians of the Gregorian reform in their antagonism to the idea of power exercised by secular rulers, an idea that rested, in turn, on the signifiers of glory and triumph. As such, these transformations played a crucial role in the so-called “Papal Revolution” – an attempt by the Church to establish and expand its political influence over secular rulers during the High Medieval period.

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                        1

Chapter 1 

The Modern Concern for Victims: Voltaire and the Enlightenment’s 

Myth of Compassion                                                                                                 13

Chapter 2 

The Origins of Concern for Victims and Their Marginalization within 

the Imperial Church                                                                                                 35

2.1 Ancient Pity and Christian Compassion                                                            35

2.2 The Theodicy of Suffering                                                                                 46

2.3 The Triumphant Christ                                                                                      52

2.4 “Victim” in Pre-Christian and Early-Christian Latin Texts                             61 

Chapter 3

The New Sensibility of the High Medieval Period and Christ’s Victimhood       74

3.1 The Suffering Christ                                                                                           74

3.2 The Devotional Literature and the New Sensibility                                        93

3.3 Martyrs and Victims                                                                                           115

3.4 Peter Abelard’s Planctus                                                                                    129

Chapter 4

Why did Crucifixion Became a Primary Symbol of Christianity?                         147

4.1 The Papal Revolution                                                                                         151

4.2 The Early Sources                                                                                               160

4.3 Gregory VII                                                                                                          169

4.5 Politics of the Image                                                                                           176

4.5 St. Clemente Basilica in Rome                                                                          186

Conclusion                                                                                                     208                                                                                                                                     

Appendix                                                                                                        216


Bibliography                                                                                                   245

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