Wedding Garments and Holy Yokes

Naomi Koltun-Fromm

in Hermeneutics of Holiness

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199736485
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866427 | DOI:
Wedding Garments and Holy Yokes

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This chapter focuses on the fourth-century Syriac Christian writer Aphrahat, known as the “Persian Sage” and his construct of holiness and celibacy. Aphrahat, who administered to the small Persian-Mesopotamian Christian community, recorded his theological understandings of holiness in his only extant writings, the Demonstrations. For Aphrahat, holiness is celibacy and celibacy is holiness. And while he depends in many ways on the early Syriac tradition, such as the Acts of Judah Thomas, one can trace other biblical trajectories of holiness in his writings. On the one hand, he suggests that sexual renunciation is obedience to the divine law, and its reward is holiness, and on the other, he proposes that sexual renunciation brings one closer to God in a mystical sense, such that the sexually renunciant mystic participates in God’s holiness through his celibacy. Aphrahat elaborates both concepts with biblical interpretive traditions and texts.

Keywords: Aphrahat; the demonstrations; holiness; sexual renunciation; celibacy; Persian-Mesopotamian Christians; divine law; mysticism

Chapter.  20136 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies ; Religious Studies

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