Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity

Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity

by Lynda L. Coon
     
 

ISBN-10: 0812233719

ISBN-13: 9780812233711

Pub. Date: 06/01/1997

Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

Late antique and early medieval hagiographic texts present holy women as simultaneously pious and corrupt, hideous and beautiful, exemplars of depravity and models of sanctity. In Sacred Fictions Lynda Coon unpacks these paradoxical representations to reveal the construction and circumscription of women's roles in the early Christian centuries.

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Overview

Late antique and early medieval hagiographic texts present holy women as simultaneously pious and corrupt, hideous and beautiful, exemplars of depravity and models of sanctity. In Sacred Fictions Lynda Coon unpacks these paradoxical representations to reveal the construction and circumscription of women's roles in the early Christian centuries.

Coon discerns three distinct paradigms for female sanctity in saints' lives and patristic and monastic writings. Women are recurrently figured as repentant desert hermits, wealthy widows, or cloistered ascetic nuns, and biblical discourse informs the narrative content, rhetorical strategies, and symbolic meanings of these texts in complex and multivalent ways. If hagiographers made their women saints walk on water, resurrect the dead, or consecrate the Eucharist, they also curbed the power of women by teaching that the daughters of Eve must make their bodies impenetrable through militant chastity or spiritual exile and must eradicate self-indulgence through ascetic attire or philanthropy.

The windows the sacred fiction of holy women open on the past are far from transparent; driven by both literary invention and moral imperative, the stories they tell helped shape Western gender constructs that have survived into modern times.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812233711
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date:
06/01/1997
Series:
The Middle Ages Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1Hagiography and Sacred Models1
2Gender, Hagiography, and the Bible28
3The Rhetorical Uses of Clothing in the Lives of Sacred Males52
4God's Holy Harlots: The Redemptive Lives of Pelagia of Antioch and Mary of Egypt71
5"Through the Eye of a Needle": Wealth and Poverty in the Lives of Helena, Paula, and Melania the Younger95
6Civilizing Merovingian Gaul: The Lives of Monegund, Radegund, and Balthild120
Conclusion: Sacred Fictions143
Notes153
Bibliography203
Index221

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