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Reading Renunciation:
Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity
Elizabeth A. Clark

Book Description | Table of Contents


"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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File created: 4/17/2014

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