In the previous issue:
In Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present, Richard Foltz seeks to understand the diversity of Iranian religious history by applying "Pool Theory," which "posits that religion/culture is best understood not in terms of essential features, but as a set of possibilities within a recognizable framework, or 'pool.' (xiii)." From Foltz's book, we feature his methodological discussion and two chapters, "Mithra and Mithraism" and "Two Kurdish Sects: The Yezidis and the Yaresan."
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Responses are forthcoming from an international group of scholars, including:
by Matthew J. Milliner (Wheaton College)
Leo Steinberg's controversial 1983 book, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, argued that Renaissance artists depicted Christ's genitalia in order to underline his full humanity. Steinberg's argument invoked Byzantine art as a foil: the absense of Christ's penis from Byzantine art reflected according to Steinberg a "puritanical ethos." Byzantine artists managed to "decarnify the Incarnation itself." In this month's Religion and Culture Web Forum, Matthew Milliner uncovers the theological motives behind the Byzantine refusal to depict Christ's penis--a refusal "grounded in the comparatively less essentialized Eastern view of gender." "[I]f Steinberg's Renaissance penises 'regained for man his prelapsarian condition,'" Milliner argues, "the exact same rationale" lay behind "Byzantine demurral." On the other hand, according to Milliner, the Byzantines did offer a "somatic highlight to drive home the humanity of Jesus," but one shared by men and women--namely, the foot.
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*Images referenced in Dr. Peers' response are available here.
Image: Panagia tou Arakou, Lagoudera, from Wikimedia Commons.