`Virgins of God: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity

Paperback | December 1, 1994

bySusanna Elm

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Situated in a period that witnessed the genesis of institutions that have lasted to this day, this path-breaking study looks at how ancient Christian women, particularly in Asia Minor and Egypt, initiated ascetic ways of living, and how these practices were then institutionalized. SusannaElm demonstrates that--in direct contrast to later conceptions--asceticism began primarly as an urban movement, in which women were significant protagonists. In the process, they completely transformed and expanded their roles as wife, mother, or widow: as Christian ascetics, they became `virgin wives', `virgin mothers', and `virgin widows' - with all the legal and economic implications of such a dramatic shift. As importantly, though, Christian menand women ascetics lived together. As `virgins of God' they created new families `in Christ'. No longer determined by their human bonds or human sexuality, they were `neither male nor female'. Finally, the book demonstrates how ascetic bishops - today known as saints - eventually `reformed' these early models of communal, ascetic life by dividing the `virgins of God' into monks and nuns and thus laid the foundation for the monasticism we know today.

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Situated in a period that witnessed the genesis of institutions that have lasted to this day, this path-breaking study looks at how ancient Christian women, particularly in Asia Minor and Egypt, initiated ascetic ways of living, and how these practices were then institutionalized. SusannaElm demonstrates that--in direct contrast to ...

Susanna Elm is at University of California, Berkeley.

other books by Susanna Elm

Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of…
Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julia...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:462 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.02 inPublished:December 1, 1994Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019815044X

ISBN - 13:9780198150442

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`Remarkable study...The volume is well written, amply documented and provided with an excellent select bibliography and various indices.'The Journal of Indo-European Studies