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Asceticism in the Graeco-Roman World


Part of Key Themes in Ancient History

  • Date Published: July 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521681544

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About the Authors
  • Asceticism deploys abstention, self-control, and self-denial, to order oneself or a community in relation to the divine. Both its practices and the cultural ideals they expressed were important to pagans, Jews, Christians of different kinds, and Manichees. Richard Finn presents for the first time a combined study of the major ascetic traditions, which have been previously misunderstood by being studied separately. He examines how people abstained from food, drink, sexual relations, sleep, and wealth; what they meant by their behaviour; and how they influenced others in the Graeco-Roman world. Against this background, the book charts the rise of monasticism in Egypt, Asia Minor, Syria, and North Africa, assessing the crucial role played by the third-century exegete, Origen, and asks why monasticism developed so variously in different regions.

    • The first study of the spread of ascetic traditions in antiquity, allowing deeper study of the practice as a whole
    • Provides a critical overview of theoretical and historical scholarship as well as entirely new ideas about early asceticism
    • Draws together a very wide range of material, relevant to philosophers as well as theologians and Church historians
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… an invaluable introductory work … Finn successfully presents the multitude of practices and beliefs composing the larger ascetic traditions of the Greco-Roman world that Christian asceticism was constructed with and at times constructed against.' The Expository Times

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521681544
    • length: 196 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Pagan asceticism: cultic and contemplative purity
    3. Asceticism in Hellenistic and Rabbinic Judaism
    4. Christian asceticism before Origen
    5. Origen and his ascetic legacy
    6. Cavemen, cenobites, and clerics
    7. Conclusion.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • History of Philosophy I: Ancient and Medieval
    • Introduction to New Testament
    • Mysticism East and West
    • Plato
    • Sociology of Religion
    • Western Religious Thought
    • World of Late Antiquity
  • Author

    Richard Finn, Blackfriars, Oxford
    Richard Finn OP is a Dominican friar and currently Regent of Blackfriars Hall at Oxford University, where he is a member of the Theology faculty and of the Classics faculty. He most recently published Almsgiving in the Later Roman Empire in 2006.

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