A leading scholar of ascetical studies, Richard Valantasis explores a variety of ascetical traditions ranging from the Greco-Roman philosophy of Musonius Rufus, the asceticism found in the Nag Hammadi Library and in certain Gnostic texts, the Gospel of Thomas, and other early Christian texts. This collection gathers historical and theoretical essays develop a theory of asceticism that informs the analysis of historical texts and opens the way for postmodern ascetical studies. Wide-ranging in historical scope and in developing theory, these essays address asceticism for scholar and student alike. The theory will be of particular interest to those interested in cultural theory and analysis, while the historical essays provide the researcher with easy access to a significant corpus of academic writing on asceticism.
Richard Valantasis is Professor of Ascetical Theology and Director of the Anglican Studies Program at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of The Gospel of Thomas, Centuries of Holiness: Ancient Spirituality Refracted for a Postmodern Age, and The New Q: Translation and Commentary.
Part One. THEORY. 1. A Theory of the Social Function of Asceticism. 2. Construction of Power in Asceticism. 3. Asceticism as a Sacred Marriage: Eastern and Western Theories. 4. Asceticism or Formation: Theorising Asceticism after Nietzsche. 5. A Theory of Asceticism, Revised. Part Two. CHRISTIAN ASCETICISM. 6. Uncovering Adam's Esoteric Body. 7. Daemons and the Perfecting of the Monk's Body. 8. Ascetical Withdrawal and the Second Letter of Basil the Great. 9. Is the Gospel of Thomas Ascetical?. 10. Competing Ascetic Subjectivities in the Letter to the Galatians. Part Three. ROMAN ASCETICISM. 11. Nag Hammadi and Asceticism: Theory and Practice. 12. Demons, Adversaries, Devils Fisherman: The Asceticism of Authoritative Teaching (NHL, VI, 3) in Roman Perspective. 13. Musonius Rufus and Roman Ascetical Theory.