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Title: Askesis : a multi-disciplinary study investigating a first century Christian concept
Author: Donovan, Kenneth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2751 8598
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2011
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This study is an investigation of a concept of askesis in the life style of Jesus and his original followers in the Galilee in the first century of the present era. It has been undertaken because definitions of the term, asceticism, in much scholarly writings have been premised on a style of living associated with that of hermits and monks living in the third and fourth centuries CE. Recent work on asceticism has opened up new avenues for consideration of this concept. However there is still little attention paid to the use of the Greek terms associated with dcncea) which had been in use in Greek writings for over a millennium prior to the era of the hermits and monks in the western world. These writings reveal that these terms embraced many meanings relating to behaviour and actions posited on the effort involved in fulfilling them. Chapter one of this study examines this group of cognate terms in order to establish a first century Christian concept of askesis which throws light on the way in which the Galilean followers of Jesus lived their lives in response to his teachings. One obstacle in this inquiry derives from the fact that daK 0) and its cognates do not appear in the Synoptic Gospels which remain the primary sources of evidence concerning Jesus and his followers. However, my studies nave indicated the interconnectedness which existed in the eastern Mediterranean, of which the Galilee was part, in which over many centuries there had been a free flow of ideas and practices spearheaded by changes in administration and governance. This study proceeds on the assumption that in this region there were shared beliefs and values in the cultural and religious lives of its inhabitants in which Hellenism played no small part. Chapters two and three contextualise the cultural background in which Jesus and his Galilean followers lived. From that peculiar culture I examine two examples of ascetic practices, the writings of Qoheleth and the code of practice found in the Essene documents. Both exemplify an element in askesis, to be found early in the development of the concept, namely the counter cultural nature of the behaviour of the people involved. Chapters four, five and six discuss the effect which the teachings of Jesus in the SM and the SP exercised on the lives of those who responded to his call. The ascetic nature of their response might be summed up in their voluntary acceptance of the demands of Jesus to undergo a new formation, the denial of self and love of one's enemies. Chapter seven examines how these ascetic teachings were received by a later generation of followers (c. 100-200 CE). In the conclusion I sum up what I have attempted to argue in this study and suggest how the concept of askesis presented might contribute another dimension in ascetic living.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available