Sacred Thresholds: The Door to the Sanctuary in Late Antiquity


Sacred Thresholds. The Door to the Sanctuary in Late Antiquity offers a far-reaching account of boundaries within pagan and Christian sanctuaries: gateways in a precinct, outer doors of a temple or church, inner doors of a cella. The study of these liminal spaces within Late Antiquity – itself a key period of transition during the spread of Christianity, when cultural paradigms were redefined – demands an approach that is both interdisciplinary and diachronic. Emilie van Opstall brings together both upcoming and noted scholars of Greek and Latin literature and epigraphy, archaeology, art history, philosophy, and religion to discuss the experience of those who crossed from the worldly to the divine, both physically and symbolically. What did this passage from the profane to the sacred mean to them, on a sensory, emotive and intellectual level? Who was excluded, and who was admitted? The articles each offer a unique perspective on pagan and Christian sanctuary doors in the Late Antique Mediterranean.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Emilie M. van Opstall, Ph.D., is lecturer of Ancient Greek at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her research focuses on late antique and Byzantine poetry and its cultural context. Her publications include an edition, translation and commentary of poems by the tenth-century poet John Geometres.

Contributors are: Gianfranco Agosti, Sible de Blaauw, Christian Boudignon, Ildikó Csepregi, Juliette Day, Roald Dijkstra, Gaëlle Herbert de la Portbarré-Viard, Emilie van Opstall, Evelien Roels, Brooke Shilling, Lucia Tissi, Christina Williamson
"The volume has many strengths, not least its examination of a wide variety of sources, with well-known authors such as Gregory of Tours being used alongside lesser known epigrams (...) this is a nicely produced, readable, and interesting collection of essays which researchers interested in concepts of space, transition, and experience, especially in religious contexts, will find useful." - Michael Wuk, University of Nottingham, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2019.05.09
"Sacred Thresholds is a welcome addition to studies of architectural framing devices, spaces of initiation, and sensory perception in ritual environments (...) an excellent contribution to the burgeoning field of liminality studies." - Nathan S. Dennis, University of San Fransisco, in: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 78.4 (2019)
"Insgesamt ist der von van Opstall herausgegebene Sammelband, der durch ein Abbildungsverzeichnis (VII–X), einen Überblick zu den Autoren (XI–XIII), einen Index (371–376) und wenige, dafür aber gut ausgewählte Abbildungen in den einzelnen Beiträgen abgerundet wird, eine sehr willkommene Ergänzung zu verschiedenen Aspekten der Liminalität in der Spätantike. (...) Dennoch wird van Opstalls Publikation vor allem dank einiger ausgezeichneter Einzelstudien für zukünftige Forschungen auf diesem Gebiet unerlässlich sein." - Sabine Feist, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, in: Plekos 22, 2020
"(...) this is an extremely interesting collection of essays that can appeal to art historians, philologists and scholars in religious studies. It fulfills its promise to consider doors and thresholds from different points of view, revealing one important aspect in the dynamics of sacred spaces from ancient Greek temples to early Byzantine churches." - Beatrice Caseau, Université Paris-Sorbonne, in: Arys 18, 2020
List of Figures
List of Contributors

General Introduction
Emilie M. van Opstall

Part 1 
Experiencing Sacred Thresholds

1 On the Threshold
Paul the Silentiary’s Ekphrasis of Hagia Sophia
Emilie M. van Opstall
2 Entering the Baptistery
Spatial, Identity and Salvific Transitions in Fourth- and Fifth-Century Baptismal Liturgies
Juliette Day
3 From Taboo to Icon
The Entrance to and the Exit from the Church in the First Three Greek Liturgical Commentaries (ca 500–730 CE)
Christian Boudignon
4 Bonus Intra, Melior Exi!
‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’ at Greek Incubation Sanctuaries
Ildikó Csepregi

Part 2 
Symbolism and Allegory 0f Sanctuary Doors

5 Sanctuary Doors, Vestibules and Adyta in the Works of Neoplatonic Philosophers
Lucia Maddalena Tissi
6 The Paradise of Saint Peter’s
Sible L. de Blaauw
7 Imagining the Entrance to the Afterlife
Peter as the Gatekeeper of Heaven in Early Christianity
Roald Dijkstra

Part 3 
Messages in Stone

8 The Queen of Inscriptions Contextualized
The Presence of Civic Inscriptions in the pronaos of Ancient Temples in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor (Fourth Century BCE—Second Century CE)
Evelien J.J. Roels
9 Versus De Limine and In Limine
Displaying Greek paideia at the Entrance of Early Christian Churches
Gianfranco Agosti
10 The Door to the Sanctuary from Paulinus of Nola to Gregory of Tours
Enduring Characteristics and Evolutions from the Theodosian to the Merovingian Period
   Gaëlle Herbert de la Portbarré-Viard

Part 4 
The Presence of the Divine

11 Filters of Light
Greek Temple Doors as Portals of Epiphany
Christina G. Williamson
12 The Other Door of the Sanctuary
The Apse and Divine Entry in the Early Byzantine Church
Brooke Shilling
All interested in Late Antiquity from an interdisciplinary and diachronic perspective, and anyone concerned with late antique Greek and Latin literature, epigraphy, archaeology, architecture, (art) history, philosophy or religion.
  • Collapse
  • Expand