Symposium on "The Cross: History, Art, and Controversy"

May 23, 2019
Swift Hall, 3rd Floor Lecture
1025 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Robin JensenUniversity of Notre Dame

Karin KrauseUniversity of Chicago

Bernard McGinnUniversity of Chicago

  • The Cross: History, Art, and Controversy

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Cosponsored by the Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion, the Medieval Studies Workshop, the Early Christian Studies Workshop, and the Research in Art and Visual Evidence Workshop. Free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event by the Seminary Coop Bookstore. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact us at 773-955-5887 or by email.

Join us for a symposium discussion of the recent book by Robin Jensen, The Cross: History, Art, and Controversy (Harvard University Press, 2017).

In The Cross, Robin Jensen takes readers on an intellectual and spiritual journey through the two-thousand-year evolution of the cross as an idea and an artifact, illuminating the controversies—along with the forms of devotion—this central symbol of Christianity inspires. Her wide-ranging study focuses on the cross in painting and literature, the quest for the “true cross” in Jerusalem, and the symbol’s role in conflicts from the Crusades to wars of colonial conquest. The Cross also reveals how Jews and Muslims viewed the most sacred of all Christian emblems and explains its role in public life in the West today.

Robin Jensen is the Patrick O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a PhD from Columbia University. Her research and publication focuses on the relationship between early Christian art and literature and examines the ways that visual images and architectural spaces should be regarded as modes of theological expression. She is the author of several books, including Understanding Early Christian Art, Face to Face: The Portrait of the Divine in Early Christianity, and The Cross: History, Art, and Controversy. Her current project, tentatively titled "From Idols to Icons" (under contract with the University of California Press) examines the emergence of a Christian material piety in the fourth and fifth centuries.

Karin Krause is Associate Professor of Byzantine Theology and Visual Culture at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is an art historian who specializes in the Christian visual culture of Byzantium and the pre-modern Mediterranean. Her first book, The Illustrated Homilies of John Chrysostom in Byzantium, published in German, won an award from the Southeast Europe Association (Südosteuropa-Gesellschaft). Her most recent book is titled Divine Inspiration in Byzantium: Notions of Authenticity in Art and Theology (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Krause’s third monograph, tentatively titled Propaganda, Cult, Scholarship: The Response to Byzantine Artifacts in Venice is far advanced, and builds on her previous publications on the impact of Byzantine culture on medieval and early modern Italy.

Bernard McGinn is the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School and the Committees on Medieval Studies and on General Studies at the University of Chicago. He has written extensively about the history of apocalyptic thought, spirituality, and mysticism. McGinn's many books include Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with EvilThe Presence of Goda multivolume history of Western Christian mysticism, and most recently Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae: A Biography.