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New publication on Christianity and materiality



Christianity is understood to be thoroughly intertwined with matter, objects, and things. Despite this fact, Christians struggle to cope with this materiality in their daily lives. Christianity and the Limits of Materiality edited by Minna Opas and Anna Haapalainen (Bloomsbury Academic 2017) argues that the ambivalent relationships many Christians have with materiality is a driving force that contributes to the way people in different Christian traditions and in different parts of the world understand and live out their religion.

This volume addresses the question of exactly how Christianity takes place materially. By bringing the limits and boundary-work to the fore, we address a gap in studies to date, Minna Opas says.

Christianity and the Limits of Materiality presents ground-breaking research on the frameworks and contexts within which Christian logics of materiality operate. It places the negotiations at the limits of materiality within the larger framework of Christian identities and politics of belonging.

The chapters discuss case studies from North and South America, Europe, and Africa. They demonstrate that the limits preoccupying Christians delimit their lives but, at the same time, also enable many things.

– Ultimately, this volume demonstrates that it is at the interfaces of materiality and the transcendent where Christians create and legitimise their religion, Minna Opas concludes.

Christianity and the Limits of Materiality is an outcome of a conference with the same name organised by the Study of Christianity Roundtable, the predecessor of the Centre for the Study of Christian Cultures, at the University of Turku in 2014.


Table of Contents

Foreword (David Morgan, Duke University, USA)

1. Doubting

  • Spirit media and the spectre of the fake (Marleen de Witte, Unviersity of Amsterdam)
  • Organic faith in Amazonia: de-indexification, doubt and Christian corporeality (Minna Opas, University of Turku)
  • Things not for themselves: idolatry and consecration in Orthodox Ethiopia (Tom Boylston, University of Edinburgh)

2. Sufficing

  • The Bible in the digital age: negotiating the limits of 'Bibleness' of different Bible media (Katja Rakow, Heidelberg University)
  • The plausibility of immersion: limits and creativity in materializing the Bible (James Bielo, Miami University)
  • Humanizing the Bible: limits of materiality in a passion play (Anna Haapalainen, University of Turku)
  • The death and rebirth of a crucifix: materiality and the sacred in Andean vernacular Catholicism (Diego Alonso Huerta, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and University of Helsinki)

3. Unbinding

  • Proving the inner word: (de)materializing the spirit in radical Pietism (Elisa Heinämäki, University of Helsinki)
  • The return of the unclean spirit: collapse and relapse in the Baptist rehab ministry (Igor Mikeshin, University of Helsinki)
  • Mimesis and mediation in the Semana Santa processions of Granada (Sari Kuuva, University of Jyväskylä)

Afterword (Diana Espirito Santo, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

For more information, visit  Bloomsbury’s website or contact Minna Opas, PhD, Collegium Research Fellow, minna.opas(at)utu.fi.


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Published date 8/24/2017 8:00 PM ,  Modified date 8/24/2017 8:23 PM