Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity

Overview

"Elizabeth Clark reveals in devastating detail how the ascetic project came to prevail in the culture wars of early Christianity. By an inventive and selective interpretation of the Scriptural texts, later writers made the texts suit their purpose. Through arguments that are dense, supple and exciting, Clark shows us the church fathers ruthlessly exploitating their own foundation texts. This is a magisterial work by a major scholar."—Averil Cameron, Keble College, University of Oxford

"No aspect of the Christian ...

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Overview

"Elizabeth Clark reveals in devastating detail how the ascetic project came to prevail in the culture wars of early Christianity. By an inventive and selective interpretation of the Scriptural texts, later writers made the texts suit their purpose. Through arguments that are dense, supple and exciting, Clark shows us the church fathers ruthlessly exploitating their own foundation texts. This is a magisterial work by a major scholar."—Averil Cameron, Keble College, University of Oxford

"No aspect of the Christian tradition seems more alien to our own sensibilities than the ascetic temper of the late antique Church Fathers. Without diminishing their strangeness, Elizabeth Clark shows us just how they read their Bibles, their bodies, and their world. The book is itself a remarkable act of reading and writing—of 'poaching' and 'founding [her] own place'—informed by a profound knowledge of the ancient texts and by a mastery of postmodern critical theory."—Wayne A. Meeks, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University

"A brilliant exploration of the consequences of late ancient asceticism for the interpretation of the Bible. In her introductory chapter, Elizabeth Clark essentially revises and reverses the regnant historical notion of a peculiarly fourth-century ascetic movement, and argues instead that the ascetic movement has its roots in the very seedbeds of Christianity, indeed in its very Jewish soil. That demonstration alone would be worth the price of admission to this book, but it is only the appetizer, for she goes on to treat in detail and with clarity and verve the consequences of the patristic promotion of celibacy for the interpretation of the Bible. This book is indispensable for students of early Christianity, early Judaism, the Bible and the foundations of western interpretation in general."—Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, University of California at Berkeley

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Religion - Richard Valantasis
This is a magisterial work. . . . Reading Renunciation will stand the test of scholarly time and remain an essential work in the long tradition of patristic exegesis.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History - Philip Rousseau
[A] scholarly, conscientious and provoking study
From the Publisher
"This is a magisterial work. . . . Reading Renunciation will stand the test of scholarly time and remain an essential work in the long tradition of patristic exegesis."—Richard Valantasis, Journal of Religion

"[A] scholarly, conscientious and provoking study"—Philip Rousseau, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Journal of Religion
This is a magisterial work. . . . Reading Renunciation will stand the test of scholarly time and remain an essential work in the long tradition of patristic exegesis.
— Richard Valantasis
Journal of Ecclesiastical History
[A] scholarly, conscientious and provoking study
— Philip Rousseau
Journal of Religion
This is a magisterial work. . . . Reading Renunciation will stand the test of scholarly time and remain an essential work in the long tradition of patristic exegesis.
— Richard Valantasis
Journal of Religion

This is a magisterial work. . . . Reading Renunciation will stand the test of scholarly time and remain an essential work in the long tradition of patristic exegesis.
— Richard Valantasis
Journal of Ecclesiastical History

[A] scholarly, conscientious and provoking study
— Philip Rousseau
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691005126
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/19/1999
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Abbreviation List xv
CHAPTER ONE Introduction 3
CHAPTER TWO Asceticism in Late Ancient Christianity 14
Reading for Asceticism
CHAPTER THREE Reading in the Early Christian World 45
CHAPTER FOUR The Profits and Perils of Figurative Exegesis 70
CHAPTER FIVE Exegetical and Rhetorical Strategies for Ascetic Reading 104
CHAPTER SIX Three Models of Reading Renunciation 153
Rejection and Recuperation: The Old Dispensation and the New
CHAPTER SEVEN From Reproduction to Defamilialization 177
CHAPTER EIGHT From Ritual to Askesis 204
CHAPTER NINE The Exegesis of Divorce 233
Reading Paul
CHAPTER TEN I Corinthians 7 in Early Christian Exegesis 259
CHAPTER ELEVEN From Paul to the Pastorals 330
Afterword 371
Bibliograpky 375
Select Index of Biblical Passages 401
Select General Index 409

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