An Embodied Reading of the Shepherd of Hermas - The Book of Visions and its Role in Moral Formation - Angela Kim Harkins

An Embodied Reading of the Shepherd of Hermas - The Book of Visions and its Role in Moral Formation - Angela Kim Harkins

Sticky Thoughts that Make Presence from Absence

An Embodied Reading of the Shepherd of Hermas - The Book of Visions and its Role in Moral Formation - Angela Kim Harkins

Angela Kim Harkins [+-]
Boston College
Angela Kim Harkins is Professor at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, USA. She was a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow at the University of Birmingham, UK, in 2014–2015, and a Fulbright Scholar at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, in 1997–1998.

Harkins has authored or edited eight books and more than 40 journal articles and essays on prayers, emotions, and religious experience in ancient Jewish and Christian texts.

She is the author of Reading with an "I" to the Heavens: Looking at the Qumran Hodayot through the Lens of Visionary Traditions (De Gruyter, 2012), and Experiencing Presence in the Second Temple Period (Peeters, 2022). She is the co-editor of several volumes, the most recent of which are Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, with Harry O. Maier (De Gruyter, 2022) and Selected Studies on Deuterocanonical Prayers, with Barbara Schmitz (Peeters, 2021). Angela Kim Harkins and Jonathan Klawans are the co-editors of the Journal of Ancient Judaism (Brill).

Description

Chapter Three explores how the cognitive process known as rumination is generated and exploited in the Book of Visions in a way that further grips the readerly imagination. Rumination is the on-going, involuntary contemplation associated with various cognitive processes: decentering, problem-solving, and the mind’s ability to make presence from absence. Here we consider the different ways the Book of Visions uses scenarios and scenes to generate the cognitive state of rumination experientially within the reader. In addition to describing the ways ancient texts sought to place narrative scenes before the eyes of the reader by using rhetorical strategies like ekphrasis and energeia, this chapter proposes that the cognitive processes associated with rumination can shed light on two elements of Hermas’s visions: (1) the excessive desire that Hermas has for the bathing Rhoda, and (2) the regret and longing that Hermas experiences through his recurring acts of compunction. While often connected to grief, rumination is a way of speaking about the cognitive processes associated with problem-solving and pining for romantic love. Rumination includes the cognitive processes that are associated with different varieties of recurrent thinking, “sticky thoughts” that persist and create palpable experiences for the reader. Chapter Three explores how the arresting scene of the bathing Rhoda that opens the Book of Visions can be said to generate “sticky thoughts” that stay with Hermas and create the opportunity for him to be confronted by his excessive desire in the form of the heavenly Lady. This provides a model whereby readers can examine their own innermost thoughts, perhaps especially necessary for evaluating those thoughts that were not acted upon. Hermas’s recurring weeping and remorse-filled actions throughout the Book of Visions resemble those of early Jewish apocalypticists whose practices can be said to have contributed to the ruminative states that led to the experiencing of visions, in which presence is made from absence.

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Citation

Harkins, Angela. Sticky Thoughts that Make Presence from Absence. An Embodied Reading of the Shepherd of Hermas - The Book of Visions and its Role in Moral Formation. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 100-130 Jul 2023. ISBN 9781800503281. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=43267. Date accessed: 05 Mar 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.43267. Jul 2023

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