Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity

Forside
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997 - 228 sider

Late antique and early medieval hagiographic texts present holy women as simultaneously pious and corrupt, hideous and beautiful, exemplars of depravity and models of sanctity. In Sacred Fictions Lynda Coon unpacks these paradoxical representations to reveal the construction and circumscription of women's roles in the early Christian centuries.

Coon discerns three distinct paradigms for female sanctity in saints' lives and patristic and monastic writings. Women are recurrently figured as repentant desert hermits, wealthy widows, or cloistered ascetic nuns, and biblical discourse informs the narrative content, rhetorical strategies, and symbolic meanings of these texts in complex and multivalent ways. If hagiographers made their women saints walk on water, resurrect the dead, or consecrate the Eucharist, they also curbed the power of women by teaching that the daughters of Eve must make their bodies impenetrable through militant chastity or spiritual exile and must eradicate self-indulgence through ascetic attire or philanthropy.

The windows the sacred fiction of holy women open on the past are far from transparent; driven by both literary invention and moral imperative, the stories they tell helped shape Western gender constructs that have survived into modern times.

 

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Innhold

Hagiography and Sacred Models
1
Gender Hagiography and the Bible
28
The Rhetorical Uses of Clothing in the Lives of Sacred Males
52
The Redemptive Lives of Pelagia
71
Wealth and Poverty in
95
The Lives of Monegund
120
Sacred Fictions
143
Bibliography
203
Index
221
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