The Apostle Paul made it clear early and often that it is the Cross that stands at the center of Christianity. Without it Christians, again according to Paul, "are the most pitiable of all people". Yet, since the Reformation Era much of the artistic and spiritual mystery that surrounded the cross have been diminished, or worse yet, lost. In her book The Mystery of the Cross historian Judith Couchman, wants to bring Christian back to the profound mystery of the cross that was such foolishness to the Greeks, and such a stumbling block for Jesus' fellow countrymen. Examining the significance of the Cross in Christian art and piety from the pre-church era, in the Patristic era, and during the era of Constantine, Couchman brings the mystery of the Cross to life for us through the early churches enamorization with this simple yet, infinitely profound symbol. Anyone who is looking to deepen their understanding of the Cross and the way this central symbol has affected Christian mysticism and everyday life should read this book. It takes us back to a reverence and understanding of the cross that we have lost, and desperately need to return to. It is the center of the faith and Couchman has done a wonderful job of placing it back at that center. This is an excellent book that you will return to time and time again.
"Christianity is a religion founded on the mystery of the cross of Christ." --Leo the Great At the center of Christianity sits the cross of Christ. From the beginning, Christ's followers celebrated the cross as a symbol of their faith. It was honored in church worship, carved into rough tombstones, pressed onto loaves of bread and set out as a sign of sanctuary. The cross represented what Christians believed, who they hoped for and how they approached life. In this thoughtful book Judith Couchman takes up forty images of the cross from early Christianity. As we discover the meaning and significance of each of these uses, we learn a little more about the early church. More than that, she helps us focus on the meaning of the cross and the Savior's sacrifice. Ideal for Lenten devotional reading and appropriate for any season of the church calendar, this book includes original illustrations of each cross image. The Mystery of the Cross will enrich your understanding of Christian tradition and draw you into Christ's presence.
Judith Couchman is the author/compiler of more than 40 faith-based books. She also teaches art history part-time for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Her books include and .
"We can read most books and put them back on the shelves and go on. Judith Couchman's The Mystery of the Cross will not be one of those books. We will return time and time again to this beautiful book which is more than a book. It is a guided journey with a narrator to help us see what we could not see alone. We need Judith's voice to help us see, once and for all, the mystery. Outstanding! Beautifully written! Inspiring! Through story and art, Judith weaves a tapestry in this book that will do more than merely inform us. We will be inspired by the mystery and transformed by the message!"
"Carefully researched, The Mystery of the Cross . . . [allows] us to see this basic, simple symbol of crossed wooden beams as both analogy and actuality. The cross stands for all that Jesus did and does for the faithful--a theme emphasized in this outstanding book."
"Prompted by the author's own discovery of the cross in Christian art, these short devotional essays will help others to encounter and better understand the complex and fascinating history of this powerful symbol--throughout history and in their own lives."
"Judith Couchman has compiled a challenging historical record of an earlier church integrating the cross, both symbolically and sacramentally, into worship, into daily living and into personal devotion. If the measure of a book is how much it impacts our thinking after the pages are closed, The Mystery of the Cross has caused me to reconsider how I can better employ representations of this iconic image every day in every way."
"Judith Couchman uses various art images from the past two millennia to tell stories and teach truths about the cross, many of which were entirely new to me. But more, she not only informs but also inspires the reader. Her book is both fresh and refreshing, new and renewing."
"With our imaginations being blasted by advertising brands and erotic innuendo, we need this book's authentic images of faith. A treasure in itself, it documents how centuries of brothers and sisters in the faith have bound their thoughts to our self-giving Christ."
"You hold a jewel in your hands. In this book, Judith explores through the ages and the arts the beauty and mystery of the cross. This will not be a one-time read but a book that I believe will enrich your devotional life for years to come."
"Nourishment for the mind as well as the soul . . . . Mystery indeed; this book reveals truths on multiple levels."
"Judith Couchman has given us a remarkably rich tour of the history of the cross. She traces the journey of this centrally important Christian symbol from its earliest pre-Christian origins to the present in a series of short, engaging chapters. Through this the reader is drawn into the transformational power and glory of Christ's death and resurrection. The result is a book I highly recommend."
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