Lara, Jaime 1947-

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Lara, Jaime 1947-


Born 1947. Education: Cathedral College, B.A., 1969; Immaculate Conception Seminary, M.Div., 1973; University of the City of New York, M.A., 1985; Yale University Divinity School, S.T.M., 1989; Graduate Theological Union and the University of California at Berkeley, Ph.D., 1995. Pursued graduate studies in cultural anthropology at the New School for Social Research, New York, NY.


Office—Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511. E-mail—[email protected].


Office of Liturgy and Cultural Affairs, Northeast Hispanic Catholic Center, New York, NY, director, 1985-90; Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT, doctoral fellow, adjunct professor, 1995-96, visiting lecturer, 1996-97, assistant professor of Christian art and architecture, 1998-2003, Yale University Divinity School & Yale Institute of Sacred Music, associate professor and chair of the Program in Religion and the Arts, 2003—; California State University, Los Angeles, assistant professor of art history, 1997-98. Also served as a visiting professor of arts and humanities, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá; regular presenter at academic conferences. In addition to Colombia, has worked in Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru.


Institute of Hispanic Liturgy (USA advisory board, 1997—), Faith and Form (journal of the Interfaith Forum on Art and Architecture, advisory board member, 2004—), American Academy of Religion, American Catholic Historical Association, American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies, Association for Latin American Art, Association of Art Historians, Center for Jewish Art, College Art Association, Instituto de Liturgia Hispana, International Center of Medieval Art, Latin America Studies Association, Medieval Academy of America, Société des Américanistes, Society of Architectural Historians, Society of Biblical Literature.


City, Temple, Stage: Eschatological Architecture and Liturgical Theatrics in New Spain, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2004.

Christian Texts for Aztecs: Art and Liturgy in Colonial Mexico, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2008.

Contributor of chapters to numerous texts.


Writer and educator Jaime Lara has a diverse education that began when he earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology from Cathedral College in Douglaston, New York. From there he continued on, earning his master's degree in divinity from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York, and a master's degree in the history of art from the University of the City of New York. He then attended Yale University Divinity School, graduating with a master's degree in sacred theology, and completed his education with a doctorate in the history of religion and art from the University of California at Berkeley. Over the course of his career, Lara spent several years working for the Office of Liturgy and Cultural Affairs at Northeast Hispanic Catholic Center in New York City, where he served as director from 1985 to 1990. The majority of his career, however, has been spent as an educator, serving primarily on the faculty at Yale University Divinity School. He is currently an associate professor and chair of the Program in Religion and the Arts. He also spent a year at the California State University in Los Angeles, where he served as an assistant professor of art history, and as a visiting professor of arts and humanities at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, in Bogotá. Lara's primary areas of research and academic interest combine religion and art, and include the works of a number of periods, such as early Christianity, the Spanish Middle Ages, the theater of medieval times, and the colonial era of Latin America. He is also the author of the books City, Temple, Stage: Eschatological Architecture and Liturgical Theatrics in New Spain and Christian Texts for Aztecs: Art and Liturgy in Colonial Mexico.

In City, Temple, Stage, Lara discusses the methods that were used by the Spanish to spread Christianity throughout Latin America during the period of colonization. Today, the vast majority of Latin Americans classify themselves as Christians, illustrating how effective those early efforts were. Beauty and a sense of belonging were very potent tools, and these came primarily through the use of art, architecture, and the religious services that were used as sources of inspiration. Many of the Christian symbols and works of art actually incorporated the imagery that was familiar to the local peoples, particularly the Aztecs. Rituals were also adapted, such as the Aztec fertility ritual that included the use of a tree or cross to which an individual was tied—a tradition very reminiscent of the steps of crucifixion and thereby a logical tie-in to Christianity. A number of other pagan rituals or symbols were incorporated into Christian traditions in order to ease the way for assimilation. Lara does acknowledge that not all of the steps taken to spread Christianity to the local pagans were successful, nor were all of them of a peaceful nature. However, the use of artistic and cultural images and behavior to foster a feeling of unity did much to encourage the adoption of Christianity by generations of Latin Americans to come. Rebecca Beyer, in a review for the National Catholic Reporter, remarked that Lara's work illustrates how, "by responding to or rejecting metaphors created or adapted by the Europeans, the Amerindians were active in creating their church—what is now essentially Mexican Catholicism." Gauvin Alexander Bailey, reviewing for Renaissance Quarterly, observed that "Lara's book treads familiar ground—George Kubler and John McAndrew are just two of the dozens of scholars who have written on this subject—and at first glance the reader might think that it is a mere rehashing of old material…. But in fact this book is quite revolutionary." He went on to conclude that "this welcome book will provide much grist for the mill, especially as Lara slays some sacred cows and treads on potentially sensitive toes." Review- ing for Church History, Santa Arias observed that "Lara's analysis of the New World missionary project is based on his deep and insightful knowledge of early and medieval Christianity, personal observations of colonial religious spaces." Charlotte M. Gradie, writing for History: Review of New Books found some of Lara's argument regarding the conversion of the natives to Christianity to be somewhat insubstantial, but concluded that "this book is visually beautiful as well as scholarly important. It will be useful to historians and art historians of Latin America and enjoyed by general readers with an interest in the history and art of the region." Wanda Zemler-Cizewski, writing for Theological Studies, concluded that Lara's effort would "be of interest not only to historians of the early colonial period in Mexico, but also to art historians, liturgists, and medievalists, particularly students of the survival and dissemination of Franciscan eschatology." Osvaldo F. Pardo, in a contribution for the Catholic Historical Review, dubbed the book "a valuable if idiosyncratic scholarly contribution in which synthesis and new reinterpretations, images and ideas have not quite managed to work out their differences."



American Historical Review, December 1, 2005, Louise M. Burkhart, review of City, Temple, Stage: Eschatological Architecture and Liturgical Theatrics in New Spain, p. 1568.

Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History, July 1, 2006, Dana Leibsohn, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 154.

Catholic Historical Review, July 1, 2006, Osvaldo F. Pardo, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 358.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May 1, 2005, T.J. McCormick, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 1578.

Church History, June 1, 2007, Santa Arias, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 438.

Hispanic American Historical Review, August 1, 2006, Alberto Zambrana Ramirez, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 592.

History: Review of New Books, spring, 2005, Charlotte M. Gradie, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 106.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April 1, 2006, Fernando Cervantes, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 384.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, summer, 2007, Jeanette Favrot Peterson, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 158.

National Catholic Reporter, October 28, 2005, Rebecca Beyer, "Christian Mission and Art in New Spain," p. 15.

Renaissance Quarterly, winter, 2005, Gauvin Alexander Bailey, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 1337.

Sixteenth Century Journal, summer, 2006, James Ivey, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 627.

Theological Studies, March 1, 2007, Wanda Zemler-Cizewski, review of City, Temple, Stage, p. 216.

Times Literary Supplement, July 2, 2008, review of Christian Texts for Aztecs.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, (December 1, 2005), Craig Hendricks, review of City, Temple, Stage.

Notre Dame University Press Web site, (July 21, 2008), author profile.

Yale Divinity School Web site, divinity/ (July 21, 2008), faculty profile.