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Asceticism

Overview


From meditation and fasting to celibacy and anchoritism, the ascetic impulse has been an enduring and complex phenomenon throughout history. Offering a sweeping view of this elusive and controversial aspect of religious life and culture, Asceticism looks at the ascetic impulse from a unique vantage point. Cross-cultural, cross-religious, and multidisciplinary in nature, these essays provide a broad historical and comparative perspective on asceticism--a subject rarely studied outside the context of individual ...
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Overview


From meditation and fasting to celibacy and anchoritism, the ascetic impulse has been an enduring and complex phenomenon throughout history. Offering a sweeping view of this elusive and controversial aspect of religious life and culture, Asceticism looks at the ascetic impulse from a unique vantage point. Cross-cultural, cross-religious, and multidisciplinary in nature, these essays provide a broad historical and comparative perspective on asceticism--a subject rarely studied outside the context of individual religious traditions. The work represents the input of more than forty preeminent scholars in a wide range of fields and disciplines, and analyzes asceticism from antiquity to the present in European, Near Eastern, African, Asian, and North American settings.
Asceticism is organized around four major themes that cut across religious traditions: origins and meanings of asceticism, which explores the motivations and impulses behind ascetic behaviors; hermeneutics of asceticism, which looks at texts and rhetorics and their presuppositions; aesthetics of asceticism, which documents responses evoked by ascetic impulses and practices, as well as the arts of ascetic practices themselves; and politics of asceticism, which analyzes the power dynamics of asceticism, especially as regards gender, cultural, and ethnic differences. Critical responses to the major papers ensure the focus upon the themes and unify the discussion. Two general addresses on broad philosophical and historical-interpretive issues suggest the importance of the subject of asceticism for wide-ranging but serious cultural-critical discussions. An Appendix, Ascetica Miscellanea, includes six short papers on provocative topics not related to the four major themes, and a panel discussion on the practices and meanings of asceticism in contemporary religious life and culture. A selected bibliography and an index are also included.
The only comprehensive reference work on asceticism with a multicultural, multireligious, and multidisciplinary perspective, Asceticism offers a model not only for an understanding of a most important dimension of religious life, but also for future interdisciplinary study in general.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Forty-two beautifully printed essays....A well-nigh inexhaustible source for study and reflection, it belongs in every theological, and especially monastic, library."--Religious Studies Reveiw

"An important book...for libraries with holdings in religious studies and the history of religions."--Choice

"...a wealth of information, insight, and intellectual provocation that will stimulate the thinking of many scholars, particularly those who study Christianity. It is required reading for any historian who studies asceticism, spirituality, or piety in Christianity--or, for that matter, in any religious tradition."--Church History

"This monumental collection of essays adds new weight to the evidence for a surprisingly vigorous and growing interest in religious asceticism....Wimbush and Valantasis are to be commended for a remarkable accomplishment, both in staging a conference of such rich diversity and high quality and for making its results available in a handsomely edited book."--The Catholic Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195151381
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 672
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Union Theological Seminary

Iliff School of Theology

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Contributors
Introduction
1 The Way of the Ascetics: Negative or Affirmative? 3
2 The Howl of Oedipus, the Cry of Heloise: From Asceticism to Postmodern Ethics 16
3 Women and Asceticism in Late Antiquity: The Refusal of Status and Gender 33
4 Christian Asceticism and the Emergence of the Monastic Tradition 49
5 Asceticism and Mysticism in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages 58
6 Practical, Theoretical, and Cultural Tracings in Late Ancient Asceticism: Response to the Three Preceding Papers 75
7 Rejecting the Body, Refining the Body: Some Remarks on the Development of Platonist Asceticism 80
8 Primitive Christianity as an Ascetic Movement 88
9 Tibetan Buddhist Perspectives on Asceticism 108
10 Trajectories of Ascetic Behavior: Response to the Three Preceding Papers 119
11 Asceticism and Anthropology: Enkrateia and "Double Creation" in Early Christianity 127
12 Ascetic Closure and the End of Antiquity 147
13 Pain, Power, and Personhood: Ascetic Behavior in the Ancient Mediterranean 162
14 Asceticism - Audience and Resistance: Response to the Three Preceding Papers 178
15 Deconstruction of the Body in Indian Asceticism 188
16 Ascetic Moods in Greek and Latin Literature 211
17 Asceticism in the Church of Syria: The Hermeneutics of Early Syrian Monasticism 220
18 Ascetic Moods, Hermeneutics, and Bodily Deconstruction: Response to the Three Preceding Papers 246
19 The Founding of the New Laura 267
20 Dreaming the Body: An Aesthetics of Asceticism 281
21 Mirabai as Wife and Yogi 301
22 Understanding Asceticism - Testing a Typology: Response to the Three Preceding Papers 320
23 The Significance of Food in Hebraic-African Thought and the Role of Fasting in the Ethiopian Church 329
24 Simeon the New Theologian: An Ascetical Theology for Middle-Byzantine Monks 343
25 Asceticism and the Compensations of Art 357
26 Sensuality and Mysticism - The Islamic Tradition: Response to the Three Preceding Papers 369
27 Asceticism and the Moral Good: A Tale of Two Pleasures 375
28 Gender and Uses of the Ascetic in an Islamist Text 395
29 Maximus the Confessor on the Affections in Historical Perspective 412
30 Toward a Politics of Asceticism: Response to the Three Preceding Papers 424
31 Renunciation and Gender Issues in the Sri Vaisnava Community 443
32 Body Politic among the Brides of Christ: Paul and the Origins of Christian Sexual Renunciation 459
33 Athanasius of Alexandria and the Ascetic Movement of His Time 479
34 The Politics of Piety: Response to the Three Preceding Papers 493
35 The Ascetic Impulse in Religious Life: A General Response 505
36 The Battle for the Body in Manichaean Asceticism 513
37 The Allegorization of Gender: Plato and Philo on Spiritual Childbearing 520
38 Shame and Sex in Late Antique Judaism 535
39 A Theory of the Social Function of Asceticism 544
40 Psychophysiological and Comparative Analysis of Ascetico-Meditational Discipline: Toward a New Theory of Asceticism 553
41 Flagellation and the French Counter-Reformation: Asceticism, Social Discipline, and the Evolution of a Penitential Culture 576
42 Practices and Meanings of Asceticism in Contemporary Religious Life and Culture: A Panel Discussion 588
Selected Bibliography 607
Index 623
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