Clothing the Body of Christ at Colossae
What we think of our bodies and what we wear says something about who we are and how we belong. This was the same in the ancient world. Rosemary Canavan explores the imagery of clothing and body in the first century CE Christian writing, the Letter to the Colossians. Through the use of this imagery in the letter, the writer critiques the way people understood themselves in a particular part of the Greco-Roman world in the Lycus Valley in south western Asia Minor (Turkey). An examination of statuary, funerary monuments and coins in this geographical location contemporaneous with the letter’s writing reveals how clothing and body images were understood. This is then placed in dialogue with the metaphorical use of clothing and body in other texts, especially the Letter to the Colossians. Social identity and rhetorical studies draw on archaeological, epigraphical, iconographical and literary sources to formulate a new approach to biblical interpretation aptly named “visual exegesis”.