Asceticism and the New Testament

Asceticism and the New Testament

Asceticism and the New Testament

Asceticism and the New Testament

Synopsis

Addressing each book of the New Testament, an outstanding roster of scholars considers what asceticism may mean within New Testament studies. The question of the role of asceticism has often been overlooked in examining the New Testament. This major project in New Testament Studies is both comprehensive and comparative in its representation of how the question of asceticism might reorder the way in which we interpret the New Testament.

Excerpt

Leif E. Vaage and Vincent L. Wimbush

I.

ANTECEDENT QUESTIONS AND CONTINUING ISSUES

Was Jesus an ascetic? Did Paul teach contempt for the world? Does the New Testament model and therefore compel otherworldly orientations? Was Early Christianity a world-renouncing movement? If so, must contemporary Christianity be such? These questions were not necessarily the immediate impetus for the collection of essays that follow, but they do nevertheless get to the heart of some of the perduring basic and provocative issues that attend the modern and contemporary, academic and popular, religious and cultural engagement of the New Testament in general, and efforts to recover the historical Jesus and Paul and the primitive church in particular—all for the sake of understanding and finding compelling models for orientation to the increasingly complex world. These questions are addressed in the present collection of essays. As should be expected, different essays address the questions in different ways and differently assess the evidence. We think that the most important contribution of this collection lies in provoking thoughtful persons to come to more explicit terms with some of the complex presuppositions, practices, and issues that are involved in the study of the New Testament and the study of certain ancient forms of piety and world orientation.

This collection of essays is about the politics of two types of disciplin(e)ary practices, namely, ancient asceticism and world renunciations, and the arena of contemporary scholarship in the New Testament and early Christianity. The first set of disciplinary practices—ancient asceticism and world renunciations—refers to some clearly identifiable, intentional, often religiously inspired and religiously justified, and often absolutist orientations to and understandings of (a particular) society and culture and the enveloping natural order. The second set of practices—contemporary scholarship in the New Testament and early Christianity—refers to some clearly recognizable, academic/scholarly, sometimes absolutist, social-discursive formations and

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