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- DescriptionHas a repressive morality been the primary contribution of Christianity to the history of sexuality? The ascetic concerns that pervade ancient Christian texts would seem to support such a common assumption. Focusing on hagiographical literature, Virginia Burrus pursues a fresh path of interpretation, arguing that the early accounts of the lives of saints are t antierotic but rather convey a sublimely transgressive countereroticism that resists the marital, procreative ethic of sexuality found in other strands of Christian tradition. Without reducing the erotics of ancient hagiography to a single formula, The Sex Lives of Saints frames the broad historical, theological, and theoretical issues at stake in such a revisionist interpretation of ascetic eroticism, with particular reference to the work of Michel Foucault and Georges Bataille, David Halperin and Geoffrey Harpham, Leo Bersani and Jean Baudrillard. Burrus subsequently proceeds through close, performative readings of the earliest Lives of Saints, mostly dating to the late fourth and early fifth centuries-Jerome's Lives of Paul, Malchus, Hilarion, and Paula; Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Macrina; Augustine's portrait of Monica; Sulpicius Severus's Life of Martin; and the slightly later Lives of so-called harlot saints. Queer, s/m, and postcolonial theories are among the contemporary discourses that prove intriguingly resonant with an ancient art of saintly loving that remains, in Burrus's reading, promisingly mobile, diverse, and open-ended.
- Author BiographyVirginia Burrus is Professor of Early Church History at Drew University and the author of Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
- Author(s)Virginia Burrus
- PublisherUniversity of Pennsylvania Press
- Date of Publication29/10/2007
- SubjectChristian Theology
- Series TitleDivinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion
- Place of PublicationPennsylvania
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintUniversity of Pennsylvania Press
- Width152 mm
- Height229 mm
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