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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monks and Ruins

A nice thing about working on our project in a studio is that we see the projects of our classmates and have some give-and-take with them. Topics that get discussed during other presentations can work their way into other projects as well. Amazingly, many of the subjects that are being covered by our classmates have come up in our research as well.
So with that in mind, here is a post about monks and ruins, which is connected to Gonen's project.

We've seen previously that ruin symbolism appears frequently in the Bible, as well as in Roman literature. Therefore, it should not be surprising to find it in Christian sources as well. For example, Christian writers describe the Jews in relation to ruins, particularly the ruisn of the Temple, and juxtapose this image with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, as a way of denoting that Christianity has replaced the dead Jewish religion. Accordingly, Jerome writes in his commentary on Zephaniah:
"You can see with your own eyes a piteous crowd gathering on the day that Jerusalem was captured and destroyed by the Romans. Woebegone women stand with old men who appear weighed down with years. Bodies and clothes demonstrate the wrath of God. This mob of wretches congregates and groans over the ruins of their temple while the manger of the Lord sparkles, the church of his resurrection glows and the banner of his cross shines forth from the Mount of Olives."
One of the clearest places where ruins enter the Christian landscape is in relation to monks and holy people, who would often take up residence in deserted pagan temples. These temples were often said to be inhabited by demons with whom the saints had to contend. If the monks succeeded in driving out the demons, it helped demonstrate the superiority of Christianity over the old religions. Stylites, who lived on columns, may also have been dwelling within ruins.

These stories are often very descriptive and tell of specific instances and trials that the monks underwent. They also demonstrate some of the stereotypical characteristics of ruins: that they are outside of normative civilization, that they are haunted, and that they are good shelters for vagrants.

Now all I have to do is find something ruin-related in Netivot, and I'll have all the other projects covered...

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