Edited by Blake Leyerle and Robin Darling Young
Ascetic Culture honors Philip Rousseau’s pathbreaking work on early Christian asceticism in a series of essays exploring how quickly the industrious and imaginative practitioners of asceticism, from the early fourth through the mid-fifth century, adapted the Greco-Roman social, literary, and religious culture in which they had been raised. Far from rejecting the life of the urban centers of the ancient world, they refined and elaborated that life in their libraries, households, and communities.
The volume begins with a discussion of Egyptian monastic reading programs and the circulation of texts, especially the hugely influential Life of Antony. A second group of essays engages the topic of disciplinary culture in ascetic spaces such as the monastery, the household, and the city. A third group focuses on the topic of imaginary landscapes and ascetic self-fashioning. Ascetic Culture concludes by surveying the scholarly study of asceticism over the last one hundred and fifty years, arguing that previous generations of scholars have regarded asceticism either as a product of the inner dynamism of early Christianity or as a distortion of its earliest aims. Together, the contributors recognize, reflect upon, and extend the themes explored in Rousseau’s work on early Christianity’s ascetic periphery—a region whose inhabitants reflect in various ways the aspirations of their religion, from the daily to the otherworldly.
Contributors: Virginia Burrus, Daniel F. Caner, Catherine M. Chin, Malcolm Choat, Elizabeth A. Clark, Patricia Cox Miller, Susanna Elm, Georgia Frank, James E. Goehring, Joel Kalvesmaki, Blake Leyerle, Claudia Rapp, Samuel Rubenson, Janet Timbie, and Robin Darling Young.
“Ascetic Culture: Essays in Honor of Philip Rousseau is a significant resource for scholars and students interested in the study of Christianity in late antiquity. It offers a fascinating collection of investigations into early Christian ascetic rhetoric and practice as well as ample self-reflection on contemporary scholarly interpretation of primary source data. In so doing, the authors honor Philip Rousseau’s major contributions to the field." — Stephen J. Davis, Yale University
“Philip Rousseau has been a pioneer in the renewed study of asceticism and monasticism in ancient Christianity. In this exciting volume, leading historians provide cutting-edge studies of early Christian ascetic culture in its literary, social, and imaginative dimensions. The essays here consistently match the excellence of Rousseau’s own scholarship, and together they make an essential collection for anyone interested in the early church, asceticism, and approaches to the history of Christianity.” — David Brakke, Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity, The Ohio State University
“A fitting tribute to a thoughtful colleague, mentor, and gentle gadfly, this volume richly illustrates developing conversations among scholars about the cultures of self-discipline created and adapted by Christians in late antiquity. Expert essays take up questions of monastic society and its regulation, liturgy, literature, and biblical exegesis; explore the formations of selves and the constitution of genders; and reframe the history of the study of asceticism in the modern era. These contributions reflect the variety of new directions that have been pursued in dialogue with Philip Rousseau.” — Derek Krueger, Joe Rosenthal Excellence Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
“This book contains fifteen essays by recognized scholars and thus provides a good indication of the state of patristic studies today in the English speaking world in the area of early monasticism.” — American Benedictine Review
“The reader seeking an introduction to current scholarship on early Christian monasticism would be well served by this Festschrift . . . It is a tribute to Philip Rousseau that his network of former students and colleagues could so ably cover much of the vastness of the early ascetic landscape.” — Worship
“Ascetic Culture appears in book form in honor of Philip Rousseau, Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Early Christianity at the Catholic University of America, for his groundbreaking studies on ancient Christian asceticism and forty years of scholarship in early Christianity. It is a compilation of fifteen essays contributed by fifteen scholars whose special interests are religious studies, history, and early Christianity.” — The Asbury Journal
“This is, therefore, an impressively cohesive edited volume, which acts as an excellent guide to the state of scholarship in the field of late antique asceticism. It features many of the best-known names working in what we might think of as the new patristics, most of them, notables, based or at least trained in the USA. This kind of reflection on the historiography of patristic scholarship seems timely. Moreover, as Clark concludes ‘we can thank Rousseau and others for treating us to a more just understanding of Christianity’s past’ (332). This volume provides a truly fitting tribute to Philip Rousseau and its sensitive and nuanced studies will be warmly welcomed by those engaged in the study of the history of asceticism in Late Antiquity.” — The Journal of Roman Studies