Luke Clossey

Published On


Page Range

pp. 165–198


  • English

Print Length

34 pages

8. Jesus Objects

  • Luke Clossey (author)
This chapter presents some examples of the vast variety of Jesus-related objects, discusses their functions, and considers contemporary attitudes towards them. The ubiquity of Jesus makes the catalogue of Jesus-related objects extensive, including automated clocks, bells, liturgical garments, and funeral shrouds. In particular, relics from Jesus's body (including his blood, his foreskin, his beard) and relics once in contact with his body (wood from the manger, clothing he wore, his sword) had complex histories, often crossing between the Muslim and Christian worlds, especially in their use as gifts or in their accumulation by enthusiastic collectors. Beyond relics, some more ordinary objects in the Jesus cult served as amulets infused with power through their design and application. Underlying the technology behind all these objects were numbers, oriented either to the deep ken (round in beautiful ways) or the plain (precisely measuring some aspect of the human Jesus). Doubts often clustered around plain-ken criticisms: The cross cult developed chronologically in time, and “True Cross” fragments combined far exceeded the size of the cross itself—an impossibility given the plain-ken rules of spacetime. The plain ken prevented the multiplication of relics, and demoted circumcision and crucifixion from powerful symbols to everyday first-century customs.


Luke Clossey

Associate Professor of Global History at Simon Fraser University

Luke Clossey is an associate professor of global history at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. His first book, Salvation and Globalization in the Early Jesuit Missions (Cambridge UP, 2008), won the Canadian Historical Association's Ferguson Prize for best work of non-Canadian history; a chapter from it won a paper prize from the World History Association. His writings on global religion, the history of ideas, and history methodology have appeared in the Journal of World History, the Journal of Global History, the Journal of Early Modern History, the Sixteenth Century Journal, Global History Review 全球史评 论 , History Compass, the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, and The Cambridge World History.