Salvation and The Siege of Jerusalem

  • Jeremy J. Citrome
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In their classic study into the phenomenon of body image, Seymour Fisher and Sidney E. Cleveland describe selfhood as the maintenance of an identity distinct from the outside world, achieved through the development and perpetuation of firm phantasmic barriers at the limits of the body. Their clinical findings help shed light on the surprising bodily emphasis of religious poems such as Cleanness, which dwell on the corporeal as the means to address larger, more spiritual concerns. In interviewing patients, Fisher and Cleveland found that individuals with weakened senses of self-worth constantly made reference to images of mutilation, wounds, and incisions, while those with firm ego boundaries tended toward images of armor, enclosures, and other protective surfaces. As we have seen, Cleanness describes damnation as a gaping, leaking, surgical wound, and starkly contrasts this with the enclosed, protected bodies of the saved. In their data from patient testimonials, Fisher and Cleveland uncovered a startlingly similar set of images, which they grouped under the category of “openings in the earth that have no set boundaries.”1 Patients with unhealthy ego boundaries, when shown random shapes, frequently saw both a “bottomless abyss” and a “geyser spurting out of the ground”;2 significantly, both these images are part of the Cleanness-poet’s depiction of the Dead Sea.


Thirteenth Century Fourteenth Century Theological Tradition Craft Knowledge Divine Creativity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Jeremy J. Citrome 2006

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  • Jeremy J. Citrome

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