In a recent review in Church Times, Vicar Nicholas Cranfield discusses late-medieval creativity in Caroline Walker Bynum’s Dissimilar Similitudes. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below:
“In late-medieval Northern Europe, Professor Bynum investigates the proliferation of holy articles that testify to a desire to objectify heaven on earth: cradles for the infant Christ, the crown headgear worn by Bridgettine nuns, and even cloth representations of Jesus’s footprints.
Other faiths have a pronounced interest in feet, too: imprints where Muhammad trod (Topkapi, the mosque of Qadam, the mausoleum of Qaitbey, and the Dome of the Rock) are similar to the footprints of the Buddha venerated in the pagodas and temples of Myanmar and at Bihar, revered by both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims alike, for rather different devotions.
Such materiality is the concern of Bynum in this collection of six essays which suggests the importance of the grounding of the transcendent for an appreciation of faith. What excites her in the period 1100 to 1500 is the sudden spread of such objects and the astounding claims made for them and their efficacy. We are reminded of claims made for the eucharistic elements. No medieval carrier would have delivered the Host in the post.”