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Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (Twentieth Anniversary Edition with a New Introduction)

by Peter Brown Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 568 pages
AU$83.00 NZ$86.96
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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In his monumental book Peter Brown addresses the practice of permanent sexual renunciation--continence, celibacy, and life-long virginity--that developed in Christian circles from the first to the fifth centuries A.D.

Brown vividly describes the early Christians and their strange, disturbing preoccupations. He follows in detail the reflection and controversy these notions generated among Christian writers. Among the topics covered are marriage and sexuality in the Roman world, Judaism and the early church, Origen and the tradition of spiritual guidance, sexuality in the desert fathers and Augustine and sexuality. The Body and Society is a significant study on sexuality and the family in the ancient world by a renowned scholar. Besides being of great interest to readers in ancient history and early church history, and to classicists and medievalists, it will engage readers concerned with women's studies and the history of sexuality.

''The reader of Peter Brown's work is always uncertain which to admire most, the grace and clarity, the scope and erudition, or the ability to bring diverse and complex units into a meaningful whole. These merits are all fully on display in The Body and Society.''
—New York Times Book Review

“A work of rediscovery and re-evaluation, written in luminous, heart-stopping prose.”,,24207100-5001986,00.html

Part I. From Paul to anthony
1. Body and City
2. From Apostle to Apologist: Sexual Order and Sexual Renunciation in the Early Church
3. Martyrdom, Prophecy and Continence: Hermas to Tertullian
4. "To Undo the Works of Women": Marcion, Tatian and the Encratites
5. "When You Make the Two One": Valentinus and Gnostic Spiritual Guidance
6. "A Faint Image of Divine Providence": Clement of Alexandria
7. "A Promiscuous Brotherhood and Sisterhood": Men and Women in the Christian Churches
8. "I Beseech You: Be Transformed": Origen
9. "Walking on Earth, Touching High Heaven's Vault": Porphyry and Methodius
10. Church and Body: Cyprian, Mani and Eusebius of Caesarea
Part II. asceticism and Society in the Eastern Empire
11. The Desert Fathers: Anthony to John Climacus
12. "Make to Yourselves Separate Booths": Monks, Women and Marriage in Egypt
13. "Daughters of Jerusalem": The Ascetic Life of Women in the Fourth Century
14. Marriage and Mortality: Gregory of Nyssa
15. Sexuality and the City: John Chrysostom
16. "These Are Our Angels": Syria
Part III. Ambrose to Augustine: The Making of the Latin Tradition
17. Aula Pudoris: Ambrose
18. "Learn of Me a Holy Arrogance": Jerome
19. Sexuality and Society: Augustine
Epilogue. Body and Society: The Early Middle Ages

Only Peter Brown could have written The Body and Society. The book... is the work of an acute and immensely learned mind soaked in the sources, with an enviable power to bring together widely scattered and recondite texts.
Peter Brown, formerly professor of classics and history at the University of California, Berkeley, is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University and the most prominent scholar of late antiquity (between 250 and 800 A.D.). He is the author of a dozen books, including Augustine of Hippo, Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the Christianization of the Roman World, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Poverty and Leadership in the Late Roman Empire.