The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity; Twentieth Anniversary Edition with a New Introduction / Edition 20

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Overview

First published in 1988, Peter Brown's The Body and Society was a groundbreaking study of the marriage and sexual practices of early Christians in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Brown focuses on the practice of permanent sexual renunciation - continence, celibacy, and lifelong virginity - in Christian circles from the first to the fifth centuries A.D. and traces early Christians' preoccupations with sexuality and the body in the work of the period's great writers.

The Body and Society questions how theological views on sexuality and the human body both mirrored and shaped relationships between men and women, Roman aristocracy and slaves, and the married and the celibate. Brown discusses Tertullian, Valentinus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Constantine, the Desert Fathers, Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine, among others, and considers asceticism and society in the Eastern Empire, martyrdom and prophecy, gnostic spiritual guidance, promiscuity among the men and women of the church, monks and marriage in Egypt, the ascetic life of women in fourth-century Jerusalem, and the body and society in the early Middle Ages. In his new introduction, Brown reflects on his work's reception in the scholarly community.

About the Author:
Peter Brown, is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University and the most prominent scholar of late antiquity (between 250 and 800 A.D.)

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
The reader of Peter Brown's work is always uncertain which to admire most, the grace and clarity, the scope and erudition, or the ability to bring diverse and complex units into a meaningful whole. These merits are all fully on display in The Body and Society.
New York Review of Books
Peter Brown's book is a great achievement. It will long be read, its insights studied and discussed, and its prose admired and enjoyed.... His work is a tour de force, showing a mastery of text and subject through six centuries of history.

— W. H. C. Frend

Christianity Today
A profound exploration of the meaning of embodiment, celibacy, and chastity for early Christians.
The Australian
A work of rediscovery and re-evaluation, written in luminous, heart-stopping prose.

— Nicolas Rothwell

Bryn Mawr Classical Review
A seminal work.
Choice

A truly magisterial work of historical scholarship by the greatest living authority on late antique Mediterranean civilization. It will be the definitive work on this subject for the foreseeable future.

London Review of Books
[A] compelling and human study of the depths and heights of sexual renunciation.... Brown's detached yet compassionate sympathy recreates the subtle and complex world of late-antique sexuality and renunciation with a skill which is uniquely his. This is not a history of the idea of virginity, but a sharpyly-focused series of pictures of its practice.
Religion
Only Peter Brown could have written The Body and Society. The book... is the work of an acute and immensely learned mind soaked in the sources, with an enviable power to bring together widely scattered and recondite texts.
New York Review of Books - W.H.C. Frend
Peter Brown's book is a great achievement. It will long be read, its insights studied and discussed, and its prose admired and enjoyed.... His work is a tour de force, showing a mastery of text and subject through six centuries of history.
The Australian - Nicolas Rothwell
A work of rediscovery and re-evaluation, written in luminous, heart-stopping prose.
New York Review of Books - W. H. C. Frend
Peter Brown's book is a great achievement. It will long be read, its insights studied and discussed, and its prose admired and enjoyed.... His work is a tour de force, showing a mastery of text and subject through six centuries of history.
Choice
A truly magisterial work of historical scholarship by the greatest living authority on late antique Mediterranean civilization. It will be the definitive work on this subject for the foreseeable future.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231144063
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/26/2008
  • Series: Columbia Classics in Religion Series
  • Edition description: Anniversar
  • Edition number: 20
  • Pages: 568
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Brown, formerly professor of classics and history at the University of California, Berkeley, is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University and the most prominent scholar of late antiquity (between 250 and 800 A.D.). He is the author of a dozen books, including Augustine of Hippo, Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the Christianization of the Roman World, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Poverty and Leadership in the Late Roman Empire.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents


Preface     xiii
Introduction     xxi
From Paul to Anthony     3
Body and City     5
From Apostle to Apologist: Sexual Order and Sexual Renunciation in the Early Church     33
Martyrdom, Prophecy and Continence: Hermas to Tertullian     65
"To Undo the Works of Women": Marcion, Tatian, and the Encratites     83
"When You Make the Two One": Valentinus and Gnostic Spiritual Guidance     103
"A Faint Image of Divine Providence": Clement of Alexandria     122
"A Promiscuous Brotherhood and Sisterhood": Men and Women in the Christian Churches     140
"I Beseech You: Be Transformed": Origen     160
"Walking on Earth, Touching High Heaven's Vault": Porphyry and Methodius     178
Church and Body: Cyprian, Mani and Eusebius of Caesarea     190
Asceticism and Society in the Eastern Empire     211
The Desert Fathers: Anthony to John Climacus     213
"Make to Yourselves Separate Booths": Monks, Women and Marriage in Egypt     241
"Daughters of Jerusalem": The Ascetic Life of Women in the Fourth Century     259
Marriage and Mortality: Gregory of Nyssa     285
Sexuality and the City: John Chrysostom     305
"These Are Our Angels": Syria     323
Ambroseto Augustine: The Making of the Latin Tradition     339
Aula Pudoris: Ambrose     341
"Learn of Me a Holy Arrogance": Jerome     366
Sexuality and Society: Augustine     387
Epilogue. Body and Society: The Early Middle Ages     428
Bibliography     449
Index     495
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