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The Bible and Cultural Studies

The Care of the Self in Early Christian Texts

Authors: Niederer Saxon, Deborah

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  • Reframes Christian history and provides an alternative for an inclusive 21st century Christianity
  • Advocates for understanding the early groups of Christ followers as differing in their attitudes regarding practices rather than as engaged in differences regarding doctrine
  • Utilizes Foucault’s later work on the care of the self and articulates how important this concept was in the Greco-Roman culture of the first three centuries
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Buy this book

eBook $89.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-64750-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $29.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-87861-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book presents the first three Christian centuries through the lens of what Foucault called “the care of the self.” This lens reveals a rich variation among early Christ movements by illuminating their practices instead of focusing on what we anachronistically assume to have been their beliefs. A deep analysis of the discourse of martyrdom demonstrates how writers like Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp represented self-care. Deborah Niederer Saxon brings to light an entire spectrum of alternative views represented in newly-discovered texts from Nag Hammadi and elsewhere. This insightful analysis has implications for feminist scholarship and exposes the false binary of thinking in terms of “orthodoxy” versus “heresy”/”Gnosticism.”

About the authors

Deborah Niederer Saxon teaches at Butler University, USA. She researches newly-discovered Christian texts, women’s voices and the inclusive perspectives they reveal, and the intersection of gender and religion.  She serves on the board of Christian Feminism Today, as the Tanho Center Vice Chair, and is a Westar Fellow/Board Member.

Reviews

“This is an impressive and persuasive study that re-conceptualizes the place of martyrdom in early Christian writings. Incorporating both canonical and extra-canonical sources, Saxon displays the wide variety of attitudes Christians held with respect to both the ‘care of the self’ and to martyrdom in the early period. Saxon’s study should prompt scholars to move beyond thinking of early Christianity in the simple dichotomy of ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heresy.’ As Saxon recognizes, ‘rethinking the history of early Christ-related movements by re-conceptualizing them as offering competing, sometimes complementary, perspectives on the care of the self rather than a history of doctrine characterized by a false binary opposition between orthodoxy and heresy can be a means of escaping the limitations of prescribed ways of thinking in a postmodern, pluralistic age.’ Saxon has written an important study that should make an impact on future studies of early Christian martyrdom.” (Judith Perkins, University of Saint Joseph, USA)

“In a world full of self-help and self-care books so prevalent in society today, it is refreshing to see how Dr. Saxon, returning to original language source material from the first three centuries of Christianity explores how the early church defined care of the self as more than having some ‘me time.’  She compares the early church to Greco--Roman philosophies of care of the self, as well as the church’s view of martyrdom as care for the self or soul in light of the resurrection.  In addition, she contrasts perspectives of care of the self among women in the early church.  The results are insightful, inspirational, and eye-opening with profound implications for helping us find the courage to speak truth to power today.  It is a must read.” (Ann Graham Brock, Author of Mary Magdalene, the First Apostle: The Struggle for Authority, USA)

Table of contents (6 chapters)

Table of contents (6 chapters)
  • Introduction

    Niederer Saxon, Deborah

    Pages 1-10

  • The Importance of the Care of the Self in the History of the Early Christ Movements

    Niederer Saxon, Deborah

    Pages 11-29

  • Martyrdom Represented as Care of the Self in the Texts of Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp

    Niederer Saxon, Deborah

    Pages 31-57

  • Competing Visions of the Care of the Self in the Apocalypse of Peter, the Testimony of Truth, Fragments of Basilides and Valentinus, and the Gospel of Judas

    Niederer Saxon, Deborah

    Pages 59-131

  • Complementary Representations of the Care of the Self in the Gospel of Mary and the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity

    Niederer Saxon, Deborah

    Pages 133-185

Buy this book

eBook $89.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-64750-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $29.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-87861-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Care of the Self in Early Christian Texts
Authors
Series Title
The Bible and Cultural Studies
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-64750-0
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-64750-0
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-87861-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XV, 213
Number of Illustrations
1 b/w illustrations
Topics