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Title: Asceticism and Mary : the function of Mary's virginity in the Early Fathers from Ignatius to Origen
Author: Manges, Ernest Berkey
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis is an examination of the relationship between the practice of ascetic virginity and the virginity of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Ante-Nicene Church beginning with Ignatius of Antioch through to Origen of Alexandria. The results of this study reveal that the two virginities have no contact in these documents and writers with the exception of two figures: Tertullian and Origen. A third witness, the Protevangelium of James, is sometimes considered to connect the virginity of Mary with asceticism. However, the Protevangelium is no such witness because it is not an ascetic document. For the most part the Ante-Nicene Church did not consider the Virgin Mary to be an imitative example for virgins and other sexual ascetics. Without a doubt Mary later on is widely perceived as a model for those who have renounced the sexual life. Augustine presents Mary as such a model, and as early as 377, Ambrose exhorts, 'Let, then, the life of Mary be as it were virginity itself, set forth in a likeness, from which, as from a mirror, the appearance of chastity and the form of virtue is reflected. From this you may take your pattern of life.' (de virginibus 2.2.6). In the course of this study a new tool is applied to the analysis of the witnesses selected. This is a more nuanced definition of asceticism. Renunciation has been considered the essential element by which to identify ascetic thought. Recent reexamination of the nature of asceticism now defines it less as a rejection of the world and more as a positive assertion of the hope of the transformation of the self. A leading voice in this new perspective is Peter Brown. More pertinent to this project is a specification by Richard Valantasis: 'asceticism may be defined as performances within a dominant social environment intended to inaugurate a new subjectivity, different social relations, and an alternative symbolic universe.'
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available