The Material Gospel Conference


Location: 107 Carey Auditorium, Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame IN

Please join us for a conference on “The Material Gospel” at Notre Dame on May 31, 2019. The conference will bring together a number of scholars to discuss “Gospel” as material text in the first five or so centuries CE.

Early Christians materialized Gospel literature in diverse formats and technologies. As material objects, instantiations of “the Gospel” participated in ritual, political, economic, and readerly contexts. Gospel books were powerful. Augustine of Hippo complains that his audiences put Gospel books under their pillows to cure toothache. Amulets attest that even short excerpts enabled users to access the protective power of the material Gospel. The Gospel codex sometimes represented Christian identity, as Gospel books were processed in liturgy and imposed on the shoulders of ordinands. In times of persecution, Gospel books might even be subject to public execution in place of Christ himself. Yet Gospel books might also be erased or destroyed for apparently more mundane reasons, as various kinds of recycling attest. As an anthological object, the multi-Gospel codex contributed to the development of a fourfold canonical Gospel. Early Christian readers developed novel strategies to facilitate knowledge, navigation, and use of Gospel literature. In each of these contexts, the materiality of Gospel literature plays a decisive role.

As external speakers for the conference, we are delighted to host Chris Keith (St Mary’s Twickenham), Matthew Larsen (Princeton), Clare Rothschild (Lewis), and Sofía Torallas Tovar (Chicago). For the full program, please see the conference website ( Attendance is free, but registration (via the conference website) is required. We’re looking forward to a lively and productive conversation.