"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bodily Asceticism

On the 15th of this month, Eastern Christians of course began the so-called Philip's Fast (sometimes known as "Christmas Lent" or "Winter Lent"), one of the four regular and sustained periods of fasting in the year in preparation for a major feast. This period would be ideal for reading a new book from Hannah Hunt, Clothed in the Body: Asceticism, the Body and the Spiritual in the Late Antique Era (Ashgate, 2012), 237pp.

The publisher describes this book thus:

This book explores religious anthropology and asceticism in eastern patristic writers ranging from Klimakos to Symeon the New Theologian, from St Paul to Ephrem the Syrian . It combines a focus on asceticism with a Christological subtext . Hunt considers why the Christian tradition as a whole has rarely managed more than an uneasy truce between the physical and the spiritual aspects of the human person . Why is it that the ‘Church’ has energetically argued, through centuries of ecumenical councils, for the dual nature of Christ but seems still unwilling to accept the fullness of humanity, despite Gregory of Nyssa’s ‘what has not been assumed has not been redeemed’?

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