Scenting Salvation Paperback

Ancient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination

by Susan Ashbrook Harvey;

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Scenting Salvation

Full Product Description

This book explores the role of bodily, sensory experience in early Christianity (first seventh centuries AD) by focusing on the importance of smell in ancient Mediterranean culture. Following its legalization in the fourth century Roman Empire, Christianity cultivated a dramatically flourishing devotional piety, in which the bodily senses were utilized as crucial instruments of human-divine interaction. Rich olfactory practices developed as part of this shift, with lavish uses of incense, holy oils, and other sacred scents. At the same time, Christians showed profound interest in what smells could mean. How could the experience of smell be construed in revelatory terms? What specifically could it convey? How and what could be known through smell? Scenting Salvation argues that ancient Christians used olfactory experience for purposes of a distinctive religious epistemology: formulating knowledge of the divine in order to yield, in turn, a particular human identity.
Using a wide array of Pagan, Jewish, and Christian sources, Susan Ashbrook Harvey examines the ancient understanding of smell through religious rituals, liturgical practices, mystagogical commentaries, literary imagery, homiletic conventions; scientific, medical, and cosmological models; ascetic disciplines, theological discourse, and eschatological expectations. In the process, she argues for a richer appreciation of ancient notions of embodiment, and of the roles the body might serve in religion.

Scenting Salvation by Susan Ashbrook Harvey was published by University of California Press in October 2015. The ISBN for Scenting Salvation is 9780520287563.

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Details for Scenting Salvation

Page last updated 18th April 2015
Author / Artist
Book FormatPaperback
PublisherUniversity of California Press (October 2015)
Number of Pages448
Thickness31 mm
Height229 mm
Width152 mm
Product Code4332858
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