Rebecca Krawiec

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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This article explores an abstract concept, ‘asceticism’. Two obstacles immediately present themselves to an overview of the role of asceticism in shaping early Christian studies: the lack of a clear definition of asceticism and the ubiquity of the topic in both ancient sources and modern scholarship, especially in the past 35 years. Letters, hagiographies, homilies, even acts of councils all participate in the construction of an asceticism that was a central concern of Christians in late antiquity. To chart the shifts in the study of asceticism is to follow as well the major changes in the field from ‘patristics’ to ‘early Christian studies’. Asceticism is the means by which historians of early Christianity confront central methodological issues in investigating discourses, power, social relations, the body, and all the attendant current concerns of the construction of the self and society.

Keywords: Christian studies; patristics; hagiography; social relations; Christianity

Article.  10308 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Studies

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