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Title:Rex Christus Ascendens: The Christological Cult of the Ascension in Anglo -Saxon England
Author(s):O Broin, Brian Eanna
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wright, Charles D.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, Medieval
Abstract:Bede was a key figure in the development of Anglo-Saxon Ascension theology, placing the Blessed Virgin in his Ascension hymn as mater ecclesia , the church founded at the Ascension by Christ. Bede also emphasized the regal nature of Christ and his role as head of the church, a body whose members all Christians are. One of the major Christological developments in Ascension theology of the early medieval period is the idea of Christ as king, which was intimately related to the doctrine of Christ's two natures and his role as priestly mediator between two realms. This thinking gains importance in Anglo-Saxon material from the time of Bede on, and kingship is a major theme of Cynewulf's poem Christ II. In Carolingian and Ottonian iconography, Christ's kingship is revealed at his Ascension and becomes a powerful model for the political ideology of the "king's two bodies," one divine and one human. The Ottonian crown of the Holy Roman Empire, for example, accompanies its depictions of kings with Solomonic texts referring to right rule and stresses the dual nature of monarchs through having the kings on the crown hold scrolls before them that split their bodies in two at chest level. Above the scrolls are those portions of the body that are blessed during the consecration of an emperor. The disappearing-Christ iconographic motif, depicting Christ's body split so that the upper portion is no longer visible, is a possible result of these "split body" depictions of Ottonian and Anglo-Saxon kings, and may derive from the earlier conception of the church as a body whose head, Christ, is in heaven, and whose members, Christians, remain on earth. The Anglo-Saxon Ascension material often includes images or accounts of the Harrowing of Hell that portray the return of Christ as the triumphal entry of a victorious ruler into his kingdom---the heavenly Jerusalem. Homilies, such as that by AElfric for Ascension Day, recommend that Anglo-Saxon kings emulate Christ, not only as earthly vicars straddling two worlds, but also as good judges. The dedication-page of the Regularis concordia portrays the reforming king Edgar after the fashion of the Ottonian emperors, sitting in majesty like the ascending Christ, his body divided by a scroll. In this manner we find regal concepts of the Ascension entering the political mainstream through the idea of dual-natured kings modeled on the ascending Christ.
Issue Date:2002
Description:416 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3044190
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2002

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