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Thorns in the flesh : illness and sanctity in late ancient Christianity /
Andrew Crislip.
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2013.
description
238 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
9780812244458 (hardcover : alk. paper)
format
Book
Holdings
More Details
series title
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2013.
isbn
9780812244458 (hardcover : alk. paper)
contents note
Illness, sanctity, and asceticism in antiquity : approaches and contexts -- Asceticism, health, and Christian salvation history : perspectives from the earliest monastic sources -- Paradis, health, and the hagiographical imagination -- Choosing illness : illness as ascetic practice -- Pestilence and sainthood : the great Coptic Life of our Father Pachomius -- Illness and spiritual direction in late ancient Gaza : the correspondence of Barsanuphius and John with the sick Monk Andrew.
catalogue key
8582623
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [175]-230) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2013-04-01:
Crislip (Virginia Commonwealth Univ.) argues that a prominent yet understudied theme of late antique Christian ascetic literature is the theological significance of monastic illness. As he discusses in chapters 2 and 3, influential hagiographies, notably the Life of Antony and its imitators, depict ascetics who enjoy preternatural health and long life. This, of course, was not the norm, and the second half of the book treats the various ways ascetics attached meaning to illness. In chapter 4 Crislip briefly discusses how four different figures--Jerome, Basil of Caesarea, Evagrius of Pontus, and Syncletica--address excessive asceticism that can lead to illness as well as the process of enduring illness as a form of asceticism. The final two chapters each focus on one text. Chapter 5 treats the Great Coptic Life of Pachomius--a text that foregrounds the sickness of Pachomius as part of his sanctity, and thus one that undermines the Life of Antony's tradition of the "healthy saint." The letters between Barsanuphius and a monk, Andrew, on the theological and social implications of the latter's illness are the topic of chapter 6. Overall, this is an important, noteworthy study. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and researchers/faculty. R. E. Winn Northwestern College
Reviews
Review Quotes
" Thorns in the Flesh moves well beyond the generalizations of a long tradition of scholarship on early Christian attitudes to disease and medicine--disease as test, judgment, or sign to others; medicine as divinely provided remedy or diabolical temptation--to a specific and highly productive study of the ambiguous position of the sick monk. The book rests on close and extensive knowledge of the primary sources for early monasticism in Greek and Coptic and thorough, justifiably critical deployment of the secondary literature."--Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway University of London
" Thorns in the Flesh moves well beyond the generalizations of a long tradition of scholarship on early Christian attitudes to disease and medicine-disease as test, judgment, or sign to others; medicine as divinely provided remedy or diabolical temptation-to a specific and highly productive study of the ambiguous position of the sick monk. The book rests on close and extensive knowledge of the primary sources for early monasticism in Greek and Coptic and thorough, justifiably critical deployment of the secondary literature."-Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway University of London
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 2013
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Andrew Crislip draws on a wide range of texts from the 4th through 6th centuries that reflect persistent and contentious attempts to make sense of the illness of the ostensibly holy.
Main Description
The literature of late ancient Christianity is rich both in saints who lead lives of almost Edenic health and in saints who court and endure horrifying diseases. In such narratives, health and illness might signify the sanctity of the ascetic, or invite consideration of a broader theology of illness. In Thorns in the Flesh , Andrew Crislip draws on a wide range of texts from the fourth through sixth centuries that reflect persistent and contentious attempts to make sense of the illness of the ostensibly holy. These sources include Lives of Antony, Paul, Pachomius, and others; theological treatises by Basil of Caesarea and Evagrius of Pontus; and collections of correspondence from the period such as the Letters of Barsanuphius and John. Through close readings of these texts, Crislip shows how late ancient Christians complicated and critiqued hagiographical commonplaces and radically reinterpreted illness as a valuable mode for spiritual and ascetic practice. Illness need not point to sin or failure, he demonstrates, but might serve in itself as a potent form of spiritual practice that surpasses even the most strenuous of ascetic labors and opens up the sufferer to a more direct knowledge of the self and the divine. Crislip provides a fresh and nuanced look at the contentious and dynamic theology of illness that emerged in and around the ascetic and monastic cultures of the later Roman world.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
Illness, Sanctity, and Asceticism in Antiquity: Approaches and Contextsp. 15
Asceticism, Health, and Christian Salvation History: Perspectives from the Earliest Monastic Sourcesp. 36
Paradise, Health, and the Hagiographical Imaginationp. 59
Choosing Illness: Illness as Ascetic Practicep. 81
Pestilence and Sainthood: The Great Coptic Life of Our Father Pachomiusp. 109
Illness and Spiritual Direction in Late Ancient Gaza: The Correspondence of Barsanuphius and John with the Sick Monk Andrewp. 138
Conclusionp. 167
List of Abbreviationsp. 173
Notesp. 175
Works Citedp. 213
Indexp. 231
Acknowledgmentsp. 237
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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